Chaz Elder shouldn't be bearing the weight of South Carolina's secondary on his shoulders after less than two seasons. And, in a way, he isn't.
The sophomore safety has senior Brison Williams, a potential mentor and leader for the Gamecocks defense. But Williams may move from safety to cornerback this fall, leaving Elder as the - ahem - statesman at safety.
At the safety position, Elder is South Carolina's future. There's a lot of pressure that comes with that. Even more when South Carolina is running short on other options.
Cornerback is the most glaring need in South Carolina's defense. An argument could be made whoever lines up on the outside - and how well they fill that void - will be as important as anything on the Gamecocks defense. But with a shortage of experienced defensive backs, Elder must deliver.
Elder gave his coaches good reason for confidence last season.
Though he was inconsistent as a redshirt freshman, he also flashed big-time potential at times. Elder had 25 tackles, four tackles for loss, one interception and a fumble recovery in six starts.
The high point came against Mississippi State. Elder tied a single-game career-high four tackles, adding an interception. They weren't big numbers, but Elder didn't have to play a big role in an experienced secondary.
Elder's role will likely grow this fall. If he's able to grow with it, his maturation will go a long way toward helping solidify South Carolina's shaky secondary.