Diggs is learning from the best

Jordan Diggs knew the college game wasn't going to be easy. He has relied heavily on senior DeVonte Holloman to teach him the spur position and the Carolina defense in general. Diggs got to use what he learned Saturday and he hopes to continue what he started this week against UAB

One of the many South Carolina players to see his first action of his career was spur Jordan Diggs. With Sharrod Golightly serving a three-game suspension to start the season, Diggs moved up the depth chart to the back-up role behind DeVonte Holloman. Diggs did not play in the season opener at Vanderbilt, but with the Gamecocks holding a big lead over East Carolina, Diggs got in the game in the second half.

"Nervousness set in when Coach (Kirk Botkin) said ‘Diggs get ready,'" Diggs said. "When he said ‘Diggs get ready' I was like ‘okay, this is about to happen.' DeVonte came to me and he said ‘alright Diggs, remember what we worked on in practice and you'll be fine.' Once DeVonte came and talked to me I was good."

In a dream world Diggs would have entered the game and made a huge stop or created a turnover to make a name for himself. While his first play will not be memorable to the thousands in attendance at Williams-Brice, it will be memorable to him. Diggs was heading to the ball to try and make that play when he was completely leveled from out of nowhere.

"I will remember that play forever," Diggs said. "That was my first play of college football, so I guess that guy was saying ‘hi, welcome.' I was running to the ball and he ran his route, and I guess he saw me flowing to the ball and he just peeled back around and came and hit me out of nowhere. I totally didn't see him. I'll definitely have my head on a swivel now."

After that play Diggs began to settle in and play his game. Diggs recorded the first two tackles of his collegiate career and played more than 30 snaps.

"I wouldn't say I played my best but I think I showed Coach that I am capable of going out there and playing in front of that kind of crowd," Diggs said. "I know there are some things I have to work on, and I have to come out here every day and get better. I looked at film and saw some things that I did good and some things that I did bad as well. I'm just going to try and correct those mistakes."

Diggs wants to learn to play more consistent and play up to the level that Holloman plays. To do that Diggs says he needs to learn the defensive schemes more and what checks to check to in certain situations. Having a senior to lean on that has played in 38 games has been an advantage to Diggs.

"It's great," Diggs said. "DeVonte's become my best friend. DeVonte is a phone call away from me. If there's anything I need to know I probably call DeVonte before I call Coach Botkin because he's going to give me a short, clear-cut answer. We just talk about so many different things. If there's something that I don't understand and it makes no sense to me, DeVonte will tell and I get it. It's been a good thing for me to have a guy like that, especially with his senior leadership and being in the scheme a while. He knows our defense in and out and he's been giving good insight."

Diggs is constantly in communication with Holloman on and off the field. Holloman helps Diggs study in the playbook and often quizzes him on what his job is in certain coverages. When they're out on the field, Diggs is Holloman's shadow.

"I follow him on the sidelines," Diggs said. "When DeVonte comes off the field I'm standing right behind him every time. I just ask him all the time how things are going out there. DeVonte gives me good insight and we just keep working together to get better."

Always having someone around asking questions can become quite frustrating, but being the type of leader that Holloman is he has no problem with Diggs wanting to make himself better.

"I never see it, but I'm sure I probably get annoying because I'm always asking questions," Diggs said. "I feel like that's the only way I can get better. I just try and pick his brain on every little detail. DeVonte's fine with it so he don't ever show any emotion where he's frustrated."

Unfortunately for Diggs, his father was not on hand to see his son's debut, nor was he on hand when Diggs signed his letter of intent. Shed, who played for Carolina during the "Fire Ant" years in 1983-87 at linebacker, is currently serving a 10-year sentence in Alabama that began in 2007. He likely will never see his son play a down of college football at South Carolina, but that does not mean he doesn't know or care what is going on with his son.

"I wrote him a letter after the game and I should be getting a letter back," Diggs said. "My mom talked to him and said he was going bananas. She said he was so excited and wanted her to tell me that he was proud of me. I'm just waiting to get my letter from him. He usually writes me a letter and goes on and on."

Diggs was forced to become an adult early. His older brother, Jordan, was imprisoned as well and his mother's fiancé was killed less than a week before signing day. Diggs had to accept the role as the man of the house. Diggs has taken that role into his football career and is much more mature than most 18-year olds. He has accepted and taken on many challenges in the last year, so when Sharrod Golightly returns next week to battle Diggs for the back-up role it will be no big deal to Diggs, who is continuing to improve on the field.

"Jordan is getting better," defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said. "He's starting to learn the system more, so we'll just have to see where they're at and let them both compete."

Regardless of how that battle ends, if the past is any indication, Diggs will take it in stride and continue to work hard. It's safe to say that by the end of Diggs' career at South Carolina he will make his family, and Gamecock Nation, extremely happy.

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