South Carolina’s home opener against Georgia State doesn’t just serve as the team’s season debut. It’s a bit of a reunion for one Gamecock.
Jordan Strachan played his first season with USC last year, transferring in from Georgia State. He learned about the scheduled matchup against his former team midway through the 2021 season — at that point, however, he was leaning toward leaving the Gamecocks and trying his hand at pro football.
Strachan (pronounced STRAHN) had one more year of eligibility and kept the game against Georgia State in mind when deciding to exercise his option for another year in college.
“That played a part in it, for sure,” Strachan said. “I just feel like I’m supposed to be a part of that game.”
While playing for the Panthers, Strachan led the FBS in sacks during his junior year with 10.5. The edge that he and his former teammates played with, he said, was fueled by Georgia State not having the same resources of a Power Five college like USC.
As an SEC school, South Carolina has advantages with facilities, recruiting and other factors to keep the program competitive.
“All of us were hungry,” Strachan said. “We’re not the five-stars, the four-stars. So I just brought that over, that type of attitude.”
That mentality is evident to his current team, specifically Defensive coordinator Clayton White.
White commended Strachan for returning as a “super senior” and getting the chance to enhance his game. Now, with a year of SEC football under his belt, Strachan still carries that competitive mindset with him.
“He made a name for himself in that Group of Five level, but I think there’s a competitive nature in him that wants to show that, ‘I can do it at this level as well,’ ” White said.
In the process, White said Strachan’s personality shows itself as he becomes more comfortable around his teammates.
Strachan has a good sense of humor, defensive lineman Zacch Pickens said. He often cracks jokes during practice while among his teammates.
“Oh, that’s a funny man,” Pickens said.
Strachan brought more than his talent to Columbia — he also brought his mind for the game.
During practice sessions, defensive ends coach Sterling Lucas sometimes brings Strachan up to explain pass rushing techniques to the rest of the team.
“I think the guys really respect him,” Lucas said. “The guys feed off him a little bit. And I think it’s awesome having him in the room.”
Less than two years removed from his time in Atlanta, Strachan knows many players and coaches who are still with the Georgia State program.
Other than this year’s freshman athletes, Strahan said he knows everyone at Georgia State — from the trainers who helped him rehab a torn ACL to the academic advisers who helped him away from the field. The Panthers’ head coach is former USC offensive line coach Shawn Elliott.
Returning to USC for one final season, Strachan hopes to improve his run defense to market himself toward the NFL. He also wants the Gamecocks to find success as a team, and that starts with a game against his former team.
“Shoot, I want to win,” Strachan said.
South Carolina 2022 football schedule
Sept. 3: vs. Georgia State, 7:30 p.m. (SEC Network Plus/ESPN+) Sept. 10: at Arkansas, noon (ESPN) Sept. 17: vs. Georgia, noon (ESPN) Sept. 24: vs. Charlotte Oct. 1: vs. South Carolina State Oct. 8: at Kentucky Oct. 22: vs. Texas A&M Oct. 29: vs. Missouri Nov. 5: at Vanderbilt Nov. 12: at Florida Nov. 19: vs. Tennessee Nov. 26: at Clemson