Coming out of high school in 2012, Kelvin Rainey was seen as someone who could have success on both sides of the ball. He played tight end at Yulee High in Florida, but it looked like his potential might be the highest at linebacker.
This spring, he's really getting a chance to test that theory after he was moved to weakside linebacker. Rainey redshirted last year in order to get bigger, stronger and more acclimated to college life, and was listed as a tight end. But with the Gamecocks losing their two-deep at each linebacker spot, the coaches felt he could help the team out more at linebacker.
"I told [coach Steve Spurrier] that I'd do whatever it takes to help the team out," Rainey told members of the media following Tuesday's practice.
So far, he hasn't disappointed.
Through the Gamecocks' first six practices, Rainey has registered five interceptions and appears to be getting more comfortable at his new position. His pure athleticism helps, but the fact that he used to play on offense has really come in handy. With that offensive mindset, he's able to tell if a play is going to be a run or a pass most of the time. It's kind of an unfair advantage for the youngster.
While he's coming along and adapting more and more in the short time he's shared reps at the weakside position, Rainey admits it was tough to move away from offense. There's more glory that comes with making a big offensive play and scoring touchdowns, but he's hoping to generate the same excitement on the defensive side of the ball this fall.
"It was hard, really," Rainey said of moving away from offense. "It's nothing like scoring a touchdown or getting the crowd [excited] out there, knowing that you're out there making plays to help your team win the game. But I can do the same thing, getting those interceptions. I can do the same thing scoring a touchdown out there [on defense]."
Rainey said he's been getting a lot more reps at linebacker than he did last year at tight end, but he really hasn't received much feedback from linebackers coach Kirk Botkin on how he's looked. Rainey said he's still in the learning process, so he isn't bothered by the lack of communication with his coach, but he expects his play to garner a little more attention soon.
"I'm still messing up out there," he said. "This is only my third week of practice, really. There are still things that I have to get done out there, but by the end of the day, I'll make him change his mind."