Former Woodruff football star Marcellas Dial could start right away for South Carolina

Eric Boynton

When Marcellas Dial was a fifth-grader at Woodruff Middle School during the week of the annual rivalry football game between Clemson and South Carolina, school administrators would have some fun in asking the kids to choose who they thought would win.

Never one afraid to go against the grain, Dial said the majority of his classmates would usually opt for the Tigers, so he ended up picking USC. He has been a fan ever since.

"That's when I started to like them," Dial said. "I grew up a South Carolina fan. I always wanted to come here and play."

Now the former Woodruff High School star is living his dream after joining the Gamecocks in January after transferring from Georgia Military College.

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There's a solid chance Dial could play right away with cornerback a depleted position after several departures. A trio of players who had been regular starters at times at the position -- Jaycee Horn, Israel Mukuamu and John Dixon -- are all gone from last season's roster. 

Former Woodruff star Marcellas Dial has chance to possibly start in his first season at South Carolina

Dial and Georgia Southern transfer David Spaulding were the lone two cornerbacks among the 12 early enrollees from the newest signing class. Injuries and some incoming signees who won't join the team until after the end of spring practice have further lessened the current depth.

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"They have length, size and potential," defensive backs coach Torrian Gray said. "Each practice, each individual period we get, there's a chance those guys are going to get better. Dial is very green, but he's going to get better each practice because it's important to him."

Dial played only one season at Georgia Military after the program didn't compete in the fall due to COVID-19. USC redshirt senior linemen Jabari Ellis and Devontae Davis and incoming cornerback Isaiah Norris (a former T.L. Hanna star) also played at Georgia Military.

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"I definitely have a big opportunity in front of me to play right away," Dial said. "I just have to get into the playbook more, study the film and do what I have to do on the field to get my spot. The secondary group is going to be good because we have that chemistry. Everybody's clicking with each other and pushing each other to make each other great every day. We're going to make plays this year."

Dial said he immediately noticed differences in playing at the junior college level and at a Southeastern Conference program.

"The transition hasn't been that rough (but) the playbook is far bigger," he said. "At junior college they give you a couple of plays, you get out there they call the play and you run it. Here you have to know all the stuff, know what everybody is doing on the field. The transition has been good, I just need to tighten up on a couple of things. I've made a couple of mistakes here and there, but nothing I can't move on from. Practice has been a lot faster than it was in junior college so I'm still getting used to everything."

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Dial put in some early work at both nickelback and corner before moving strictly to the latter. He has caught the eye of veteran safety R.J. Roderick.

"I feel he can come into the fall and be a contributor," Roderick said. "What impresses me about Marcellas is his numbers. He works very hard in the weight room and his numbers show that. He attacks it and you can see it. He’s a guy that when it comes time to punch the clock and put the work in, he’s one of the guys that’s willing to do it.”