COLUMBIA - If the season began Saturday, South Carolina senior Brison Williams would line up at cornerback.

That's the scenario defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward settled on as the Gamecocks inch within a week from the start of fall camp. Williams is the wildcard in South Carolina's secondary, able to line up in multiple positions as needed.

Ideally, Ward said, Williams would play safety this fall instead of corner. Most likely, he'll play both positions.

"I prefer Brison playing safety because when you're a safety, you get to talk to everybody," Ward said. "When you're a corner, you're stuck out on one side of the field. He needs to help everybody get lined up on both sides of the field. Not that the guys don't know how to do it, but that's what he's done.

"So, ideally, we want him to play safety."

Williams dropped 10 pounds this offseason, anticipating a move to cornerback. He now tips the scale at 195. Still, which position he plays this fall is still evolving.

Ward said he'll decide where Williams will play roughly one week before South Carolina opens its season Aug. 28 against Texas A&M. Several factors must be weighed. Can T.J. Gurley adequately replace Williams at safety? Will South Carolina's incoming freshmen cornerbacks be ready to contribute in significant roles?

Those questions will find answers in the first few weeks of fall camp, which begins Aug. 1. Ward already knows one thing to be true. Williams will be the most important player on defense this fall, Ward said.

"I think he's that anyway because of the leadership he has when he plays safety," Ward said. "He understands the system, he's very smart, and he's played a lot of plays for us."