South Carolina: Defensive Back University

This past April South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger was drafted in the second round by the Houston Texans, becoming the 17th defensive back drafted dating back to 2000. Among fans, the Gamecocks have quickly been dubbed “DB University“over the past decade. This trend may have been set starting with Arturo Freeman, who was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the 5th round of the 2000 NFL Draft. Two years later the trio of Sheldon Brown, Andre Goodman and Willie Offord were all taken, becoming South Carolina’s first group of secondary players to be drafted in the same year. Continuing the trend in 2003, Corey Jenkins was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the 6th round. Jenkins was a converted safety after spending most of his two year career at South Carolina under center. From 2004-2006 the Gamecocks had 5 defensive backs drafted into the NFL (Dunta Robinson, DeAndre Eiland, Rodriques Wilson, KO Simpson and Jonathan Joseph). Corner back Fred Bennett was taken in the 4th round of the 2007 NFL draft by the Houston Texans and actually replaced an injured Dunta Robinson and logged 62 tackles and 3 interceptions as a rookie.

Dating back to 2006 the Houston Texans have had 4 different former Gamecock DB’s on their roster, all of which were starters at some point ( Dunta Robinson, Fred Bennett, Jonathan Joseph and D.J. Swearinger); assuming Swearinger will start in their 3-3-5 defensive scheme.

After his junior season at South Carolina Captain Munnerlyn decided to forgo his senior season and enter the draft. Munnerlyn was selected during the 7th round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers and has since become a starter at the right cornerback position. Safety, Stoney Woodson was also taken in the 7th round by the New York Giants. Woodson played for multiple NFL teams including the Eagles and Buccaneers but has recently found a home in the Arena Football League, playing for the Jacksonville Sharks.

In recent years the likes of Darian Stewart, Antonio Allen, Chris Culliver, Stephon Gilmore, Emanuel Cook and now D.J. Swearinger all have homes in the NFL, joining past teammates and continuing a great tradition for South Carolina defensive backs.

Now the question becomes, who will be the next DB from South Carolina to have his name called to play on Sundays? With a young secondary returning it will be interesting to see who will step up and make the big plays that fans are accustomed to seeing. With plenty of potential and play-making ability it appears that Victor Hampton may be next in line to become a part of the Gamecock DBU fraternity.

With so many schools around the country also producing stand out DB’s year in and year out it is hard to say what program is “THE” Defensive back University, but as of now the Gamecocks can proudly say that they are “THE” DBU, at least for the past decade.

Ryan Hood