Top 10: #8 - Victor Hampton

For South Carolina to reach its goals in the 2012 season, 10 players have to step up and have a big year. We begin the top 10 today and will conclude with the #1 player prior to the opening game against Vanderbilt. Today we take a look at the #8 player, Victor Hampton

8. Victor Hampton

Outside of whoever becomes the number one target for quarterback Connor Shaw at receiver replacing Alshon Jeffery, no player has bigger shoes to fill than that of Victor Hampton. Hampton will be expected to step in and fill the role left by Stephon Gilmore, a top 10 draft choice for the Buffalo Bills.

"It's big to prove to my team that I'm ready to take the opportunity and step up and be a starter," Hampton said back in the spring. "Also to prove to my coaches that I'm ready to be a starter."

Hampton has had his fair share of problems off the field, nearly getting kicked off the team after struggling with the coaching staff's decision to redshirt him in 2010. Hampton saw an opportunity to step in for the injured Akeem Auguste in 2011. Victor took full advantage of his opportunity, playing in nine games and recording 12 tackles and an interception against Kentucky. Hampton also spent time returning kicks where he returned seven kicks for an average of 25.4 including a 55-yard return against Arkansas.

Hampton stepped right in for the departed Gilmore and left no doubt about whether or not he'd start. With Auguste again out with another injury, Hampton has to step in and be the lockdown corner that Carolina needs.

"His role has always been important," defensive backs coach Grady Brown said. "I don't think the level has increased since Akeem has been out. Vic is doing a good job. He's a really good football player; he has a high football IQ. He comes to practice to work every day. We expect him to play a big part in our success this year."

Hampton will be counted on to make plays for a relative inexperienced secondary to open the season. Hampton is a play-maker and he will take chances to make a big play. It has a big payoff but it is high-risk and the risk can sometimes outweigh the reward. Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward has often spoke with Hampton during practice about when to take a chance and when to play it safe.

"He's not trying to take my aggressiveness away from me," Hampton said. "He's just trying to teach me when to do it."

The Darlington native has the potential to be a dominant corner that makes big play after big play. Carolina is going to need Hampton to be that shutdown corner that can take away half of the field. Hampton must make sure he isn't over-aggressive and gives up the big play, but if he plays up to his capabilities the Gamecock defense will be that much better.

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