COLUMBIA -- Shaq Wilson has been back in a white jersey at practice this week, and South Carolina's outside linebacker says he has every intention of playing Saturday night at No. 17 Auburn.
Wilson had to demonstrate to trainers Monday that his injured hamstring was ready, but he passed the test and was handed his jersey. The junior from Jacksonville, Fla., has been out since the first day of preseason camp. Coaches were considering redshirting Wilson. He ran without any noticeable limp Tuesday, backpedaling in the early part of practice.
"I feel like I can do everything," Wilson said. "The coaches kept me in shape. I can go full speed. I'm ready to show (defensive head) coach (Ellis) Johnson and the other coaches I'm ready to play."
Even if he's able to go Saturday, Wilson admitted that Tony Straughter should start. Straughter, a senior by way of Georgia Military, has been filling in for Wilson. Physically, Johnson has been satisfied with Straughter's progress. But he's illustrated numerous times how important Wilson is to the defense, in terms of getting the unit adjusted to what the opposing offense is doing.
Johnson has repeatedly called Wilson, who led the team in tackles a year ago, the "defensive quarterback."
"We listen to Shaq," All-SEC cornerback Stephon Gilmore said Tuesday. "He's probably like the leader of our defense."
Junior spur Antonio Allen had been on the shelf with Wilson, but came back last week against Furman. Position coach Shane Beamer said Allen was in for about 22 or 23 plays -- enough to knock off the rust. Allen recorded two tackles.
Prior to his return, sophomore Damario Jeffery had been left to man the hybrid linebacker-safety spot almost by himself.
"There weren't a lot of mental errors or anything like that," Beamer said. "He did a good job for his first time out."
Before injuring his knee and missing last season, Steve Spurrier called Travian Robertson the strongest guy on the team. Things haven't changed for the junior defensive tackle, who collected the first two sacks of his career last week. "He's a big, strong guy and he's hard to block," Spurrier said. "He's a good run defender and he gets pressure on the quarterbacks. He's in there a lot."
Spurrier noted Robertson arrived as an outside linebacker, weighing about 225 pounds. "Now he's a good, solid 280," he said.
McKinley trust fund
The NFLPA has started a fund to help the future of Kenny McKinley's young son, Keon. Players and fans can donate to the following address.
Kenny McKinley's Trust Fund, (in care of NFL Players Association), 1133 20th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036.