An hour or so after Will Muschamp was introduced as USC's new head football coach, he made a bee line for Richland Northeast High School to check in on senior linebacker T.J, Brunson who at the time was committed to Louisville.
"He was kind of important," Muschamp recalled.
"He was the first person I went to see after the press conference I liked his tape a lot. I thought he flashed. I thought he played fast. I thought he played physical. Jay Frye, his head coach and former Gamecock, I talked to him about what kind of person he was and he said he checks all the boxes as far as everything you’re looking for. In my extended meeting with him at Richland Northeast High School, you could see he had a lot of qualities you want in your MIKE linebacker."
After learning the ropes in his freshman season, Brunson's first game as a seasoned sophomore saw him record 16 tackles against North Carolina State. Muschamp believes Brunson can only get better at the middle linebacker position.
"Having him as a freshman and seeing him grow and develop, to see how important it is to him to play well, was really neat," Muschamp said.
"He’s very hard on himself, and in my opinion too hard on himself at times. I told him that I shouldn’t have more confidence in you than you do in yourself. I’ve had to tell him that several times. Now he’s a guy that’s got a lot more confidence in himself, a lot more belief in himself. You saw him play Saturday. He plays fast and plays a very violent game. I’m glad he’s our MIKE."