COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - With the Gamecocks taking the practice field for the first time in fall camp on Monday, there's an excitement that is palpable throughout the program.
However, there's arguably no player more excited about being back on the field than senior linebacker Skai Moore.
"I'm very, very excited," Moore said. "I'm almost itching to get back out there and just be able to hit something and make some plays and be back in Willy B definitely."
Moore was sidelined all of last season with a neck injury. However, the senior from Cooper City, Fla., worked extremely hard to have this opportunity and his return has been a welcome addition to the roster.
"I expect him to play extremely well and I think he will," said Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp. "He's had a great spring. He probably feels like he's in the best shape he's been. He's up to 225. He's moving extremely well. I think that I'm expecting him to play extremely well."
"I feel the same way," Moore said. "Just coming back here and getting into the groove of things. I feel like I'm back pretty much. So, I'm ready to show the country and let them know I'm back."
The last time Moore was on the field, he had a different head coach with a different defensive philosophy. Still, Moore will be expected to produce and lead this defense and he's embraced that challenge as an upperclassmen.
"It feels good," Moore said. "You know, we've got a lot of young guys that haven't been around and haven't seen a lot of repetitions of defense. So, they come to me and they ask questions and see how I'm moving and stuff. It feels to know I'm established and (I'm) just trying to give off what I know to them. This feels good."
At this point, Skai Moore is listed as the starting weakside linebacker. In three seasons at Carolina, he has led the team in tackles and will look to do it a fourth time to add his name to the NCAA history books.
Moore also has the opportunity to become the school's leader in interception. In his career, Moore has 11 and is three shy of the all-time lead held by Bo Davies.
The Gamecocks will open fall practice for the first time on Monday morning. They will take on North Carolina State at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Sept. 2.