By Rixon Lane
This week, for the first time in "Matchup Monday," we move to the defensive side of the ball.
Our matchup features a pair of ball-hawking, NFL-caliber cornerbacks from Rock Hill, SC.
The only question is...who was better?
The case for...Stephon Gilmore
Gilmore was the first in a string of Mr. Football's to choose South Carolina over more prestigious programs. He started as a true freshman in 2009 and was a Freshman All-American in his first campaign in Columbia. Gilmore led the Gamecocks in interceptions in 2010 and 2011, becoming the first player to have the team's sole lead in INTs in back-to-back years since the late 1970's. He also was South Carolina's leading tackler in 2010, tallying 79 stops on the season.
The case for...Ko Simpson
Simpson had one of the best seasons ever by a Gamecock freshman in 2004. He led South Carolina and the SEC with six interceptions, the most by a Gamecock since Arturo Freeman in 1997. He was the SEC Freshman of the Year, becoming the first South Carolina player to ever win the award. The following year, Simpson led the Gamecocks in tackles with 103. He was a consensus All-SEC player in his sophomore season.
Simpson put up gaudier statistics at times, but Gilmore wins because of how he contributed in a multitude of ways and helped set the stage for a slew of top recruits to come to South Carolina.