Tuesday, January 31, 2012

USC Pre-Signing Day Tidbits

It’s less than 24 hours before National Signing Day, an unofficial holiday (really it is!) especially in the Deep South, when thousands of high school prospects across the country will sign their John Hancock’s on the dotted line with their chosen institutions. The University of South Carolina is expected to bring in a full class of 25 freshmen (no JUCO’s) even though only 22 high school freshmen will sign Letter-of-Intents (LOI’s) because three players (OL Brock Stadnik, OL Clayton Stadnik and TE Kelvin Rainey) have already enrolled at USC for this semester and did not sign LOI’s. There will be wall-to-wall coverage of NSD on ESPN and ESPNU starting at nine o’clock Wednesday morning. For guys like me who salivate 24/7 over football recruiting, the first Wednesday of every February is hopefully a time when new gridiron talent will continue to bolster the football depth chart at the University of South Carolina.

Leading up to National Signing Day, there is usually some sort of drama around every college football program. This year to coin a cliché, “the hay is already in the barn” accurately depicts the situation at USC. Steve Spurrier Jr., USC Recruiting Coordinator, and the rest of the Gamecocks staff have done a remarkable job of nailing down a very talented class. Spurrier Jr. took a different strategy this year in his inaugural season as recruiting coordinator and really got after securing verbal commitments early in the recruiting process versus past practices at South Carolina. Since the calendar turned to 2012, the Gamecocks were only pursuing five to eight high school prospects. As of January 1st the Gamecocks have secured five verbal commitments (Running Back Mike Davis, Safety Jordan Diggs, Corner Back Chaz Elder, Kicker Nick St. Germain and Corner Back Chris Moody) with more than likely the last verbal commitment coming yesterday when McDonough, GA Henry High School athlete Chris Moody de-committed from Vanderbilt and verbally committed to USC.

Now the Gamecocks coaches are still communicating with a couple of prospects, DE Tyriq McCord (committed to Miami) and DB Elijah Shumate (committed to Notre Dame). I do not expect any Signing Day drama for South Carolina, good or bad, but you never know when you are dealing with 17 and 18-year-old kids. The USC coaches will begin receiving LOI faxes tomorrow around seven o’clock in the morning. A lot of the Gamecock commitments will hold Signing Day ceremonies at their respective high schools in front of the student body and local media. Usually the recruit will sign his LOI to the school along with a signature of a parent or legal guardian. USC has sent out 22 LOI’s (remember three players have already enrolled and did not sign LOI’s) to its verbal commitments to abide new SEC rules that went into effect this year to eliminate “over signing” at all 14 SEC member schools. If Carolina or another SEC institution is expecting a Signing Day surprise, then a Letter-of-Intent must have been sent to the football prospect and would count against the 25-man signing limit if the student athlete chooses “said” SEC institution.

Here is a list of 22 USC verbal commitments on National Signing Day Eve that are expected to sign Letter-of-Intents:

Shaq Roland
Mike Davis
Jody Fuller
Chaz Elder
Kwinton Smith
Kaiwan Lewis
Jerrell Adams
Joe Harris
Darius English
Jordan Diggs
Cody Waldrop
Brendan Nosovitch
Jhaustin Thomas
T.J. Gurley
Kyle Fleetwood
Chris Moody
Rico McWilliams
Carlos Hood
T.J. Holloman
Kendric Salley
Nick St. Germain
Mason Zandi

*Note: Brock Stadnik, Clayton Stadnik and Kelvin Rainey are already enrolled in school and therefore do not sign LOI’s.

Starting tomorrow morning SPURspective will be monitoring all of the signing day action bright & early and will bring you any breaking news on USC’s recruiting front.

I’ll breakdown the Gamecocks Signing Day haul with plenty of analysis and let you the fans know what coaches on USC’s staff really have made a difference on the recruiting trail this year and which signees we can expect to make an immediate impact on the gridiron in 2012.

Go Gamecocks!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Moody Has a "Mood Swing" in His Commitment

According to TheBigSpur, Georgia Athlete Chris Moody has switched his verbal commitment from Vanderbilt to South Carolina. Moody visited USC this past weekend after committing to Vanderbilt the weekend of Jan. 22nd while on an Official Visit. Moody becomes the 25th USC verbal commitment. Lorenzo Ward is the lead recruiter for Moody and represents the ninth Peach State product that Ward has secured this 2012 recruiting cycle out of Georgia.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Coach Jeep Hunter Off of USC Staff

According to TheBigSpur.com, USC football Assistant Coach Jeep Hunter is no longer a part of the football staff. Hunter had just completed his third season with the Gamecocks. This past year, he coached Safeties in the Secondary. No names mentioned as of right now of possible replacements.

Monday, January 23, 2012

USC Men’s Basketball – Wins & Losses Bottom Line

In our second installment of the Darrin Horn Era, we’ll take a look at the fourth year head coach’s win/loss record versus non-conference opponents, versus Southeastern Conference competition, Horn’s SEC Tournament record and post-season performance. Upward mobility in the SEC is always challenging and generally coaches are given a four to five year window to turn around a fledgling program upon arrival. The first task of any new coach is to upgrade its talent on campus. By & large Horn’s recruiting classes, especially his 2010 group, have been judged as improvements in changing the DNA of the Gamecocks basketball program. I discussed this topic in my first installment. If you missed it here is a link to the first installment of this three-part series:

USC Recruiting

The second benchmark of any program, and the single most important, IMHO, is win/loss record. Under Head Coach Darrin Horn, the Gamecocks have compiled a 58-52 overall record in three-and-a-half seasons. A disparaging sign for a coach entering his fourth year in charge of a turning around the fortunes of a college basketball program is to be facing a third sub-.500% season at this juncture in his tenure on the job. The big, red heron that raises red flags is that of Horn’s 58 career victories while at South Carolina, 36% (21) came in his initial year, when he inherited players like Devan Downey, Zam Frederick, Dominique Archie, Mike Holmes and Sam Muldrow. Horn’s seasonal win total in Columbia has declined each season since the former Western Kentucky University Head Coach has been at the helm of the USC men’s basketball program.

Here is a breakdown of Horn’s win/loss record at South Carolina:
2008-09: 21-10 (SEC record: 10-6)
Signature Wins: at #19 Baylor (85-84), #24 Florida (70-69), at #24 Kentucky (78-77)
Bad Losses: at College of Charleston (82-80, OT), Tennessee (86-70)

2009-10: 15-16 (SEC record: 6-10)
Signature Wins: Richmond (76-58), #1 Kentucky (68-62), at #19 Vanderbilt (77-73)
Bad Losses: at Wofford (68-61), at #14 Tennessee (79-53), at UGA (66-61), Mississippi State (76-63)

2010-11: 14-16, (SEC record: 5-11)
Signature Wins: Clemson (64-60), #22 Vanderbilt (83-75, OT), at Florida (72-69)
Bad Losses: at Ohio State (79-57), at Furman (91-75), Boston College (85-70), Auburn (79-64), at #23 Vanderbilt (78-60), #17 Florida (79-60), at #22 Kentucky (90-59), at Georgia (64-48)

2011-12: 8-10, (SEC record: 0-4)
Signature Wins: at Clemson (58-55)
Bad Losses: at Elon (58-53), Tennessee State (64-63), vs #1 UNC (87-62), Vanderbilt (67-57), Florida (79-65), Auburn (63-52)

So before we look at records versus competition, here is a staggering thought. Horn and his squad quite possibly could begin SEC league play this year, 0-10, as the Gamecocks play six games (Alabama, at Ole Miss, at Florida, Kentucky, at Tennessee and at Arkansas) where USC will be considered the underdogs before hosting Georgia at the CLA on February 15th.

Non-Conference Record:
Horn’s Non-Conference record is 37-17 in three-plus seasons. He has one victory over a ranked opponent (#19 Baylor in his first season, 85-84) on the road. His record against BCS Conference competition is 4-12 with two of those wins coming against an unranked Clemson team last year, 64-60, at the CLA and this season at Clemson, 58-55. His fourth victory against a BCS-level opponent was against South Florida 69-66 in a tournament two years ago. His average margin of victory against BCS conference opponents is 2.75 points/game. In contrast, USC’s average margin of loss under Horn versus BCS Conference competition is 12.3 points/game. Horn has a single win at the Colonial Life Arena against a BCS-level opponent in three-plus years: Clemson (2010, 64-60).

Another disturbing trend under Horn is the annual loss to a Southern Conference opponent on the road. An SEC school, even with subpar talent like USC’s, should never lose a single game to a non-BCS school each year like College of Charleston (2008), Wofford (2009), Furman (2010) and Elon (2011). The inability to win on the road against inferior competition reflects poor coaching and inexcusable execution of a game plan.

Bottom line: Darrin Horn has “padded” his win total (33) versus lesser opponents to the tune of .057% winning percentage. Most of his wins have come at the CLA against the likes of S.C. State, Furman, Southeast Louisiana, Western Carolina and Radford. Let’s remember the Gamecocks lost to Tennessee State this season at home!

Conference Record:
Horn’s Southeastern Conference record is 21-31 in three-plus seasons. Horn won ten conference games in his first season, when the SEC East Division was not very good and the conference as a whole was mediocre. Since year one, Horn’s teams have compiled an 11-25 record without winning a conference game yet this season. In the last 16 SEC Conference games (regular season), the Gamecocks are 2-14. During that span of games, the average loss is 14.5 points/game, while the two wins came against SEC West bottom feeders, LSU & Ole Miss, last season by an average of 7.5 points/game.

The Gamecocks have not won an SEC game since February 22, 2011 at home against Ole Miss, 79-73, and currently own a seven-game regular season conference losing streak. The last time Horn’s Gamecocks defeated a ranked SEC team on the road was March 6, 2010 at #19 Vanderbilt, 77-73 and that was with Dave Odom players (Downey, Muldrow, Frederick and Raley-Ross). Under the Horn regime, the Gamecocks have not defeated Mississippi State (0-3; regular season and 0-1; SEC Tournament) or Tennessee (0-6). Against the top four teams in the SEC East Division (UK, UF, VU and UT), Carolina is 9-18 and in the midst of a nine-game losing streak to those four teams. Against the top four teams in the SEC West (Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi St and Ole Miss), South Carolina is 5-7. Against the rest of the SEC (Georgia, Auburn and LSU), the Gamecocks are 7-6.

Bottom line: Clearly, the last two seasons, the SEC is getting better while South Carolina is getting worse! The Gamecocks are not competing against the upper echelon of the Southeastern Conference, while just treading water (one game over .500) against similar conference competition.

Southeastern Conference Tournament Record:
In three SEC Conference Basketball tournament appearances, the Gamecocks are 0-3 where the average loss is 10 points/game. In two of the three losses, Mississippi State (2009) & Ole Miss (2011), the Gamecocks never really put up much of a fight. In the opening-round loss to Alabama in 2010, the Gamecocks unraveled in the second half surrendering a double-digit lead before losing by five points.

Bottom line: The Gamecocks have not won a single game in the SEC Tournament under Darrin Horn and two of the three losses have been by double digits and greater than ten points.

Post Season:
Under Darrin Horn, the Gamecocks have participated in one post-season tournament game. In 2009, the Gamecocks hosted Davidson (Southern Conference opponent) at the CLA in an opening round NIT game and lost 70-63. Horn’s predecessors, Fogler and Odom, had the Gamecocks in the NCAA Tournament by their fourth year. Barring a miracle, this team will not see postseason play for a fourth straight year under Darrin Horn.

Bottom line: The lack of postseason play during Horn’s tenure defines the demise of this program the last two-plus years. Even under Odom, the Gamecocks participated in multiple NIT tournaments and won back-to-back NIT titles in 2005 & 2006. Coach Horn has demonstrated he cannot guide his team to postseason play when facing BCS-level competition. Remember when Horn’s Western Kentucky University team reached the Sweet 16 back in 2008; the Hilltoppers (#12 seed) defeated two non-BCS schools, (#5 seed) Drake University & (#13 seed) San Diego State before losing to UCLA.

In the last installment of this three-part series, SPURspective will list some possible candidates to replace Darrin Horn and what it will cost South Carolina to replace Darrin Horn at season’s end.

Go Gamecocks!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gamecocks Defensive Back Suspended

University of South Carolina Head Football Coach Steve Spurrier announced this afternoon that freshman Safety Brison Williams has been suspended indefinitely from the football team.
"Brison Williams has been suspended for conduct detrimental to the South Carolina football team," said Coach Spurrier.
Williams, a freshman from Warner Robins, Georgia, played in eight games for the Gamecocks in 2011, recording 11 tackles.

Friday, January 20, 2012

USC Strength Coach Craig Fitzgerald Resigns

Per Gamecocksonline, Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach Joe Connolly has been named as the South Carolina Gamecocks' Head Football Strength & Conditioning Coach, head coach Steve Spurrier announced today. Connolly replace Craig Fitzgerald, who has resigned to pursue other opportunities.

Connolly has been a member of the South Carolina Strength & Conditioning staff since 2009. The Massachuesetts native began his career at Harvard where he worked for two years, assisting with all 41 sports at the Ivy League school. He then served as an assistant strength & conditioning coach at Louisville, working with football.

Go Gamecocks!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Adams Finally a Part of the Gamecock Family

Per TheBigSpur, the NCAA Clearinghouse finally approved Tight End Jerell Adams' enrollment to the University of South Carolina today. Adams, a former four-star prospect, will not be able to enroll this semester and thus participate in spring practice because he has already missed too many classes, but he will enroll in May. Adams is a former South Carolina Shrine Bowl member and signed with USC last year. He unfortunately did not make grades out of high school and attended Fork Union Prep in Virginia for a semester last fall to improve his academics.

Adams is a native of Summerton, SC and played his high school football at Scott’s Branch.

Go Gamecocks!

The Horn Era“ror” - Recruiting Shortcomings

It’s ironic that nearly four years ago the University of South Carolina played the ultimate April Fool’s Day on its fan base. On April 1, 2008, USC Athletics Director Eric Hyman made the first, most significant coaching hire at South Carolina since he arrived from Texas Christian University, TCU, in 2005. At this press conference, A.D. Hyman introduced to Gamecocks Nation a young, energetic, up-and-coming head coach from Western Kentucky University named Darrin Horn. Horn had just completed the most successful season at his alma mater with a surprising run to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Horn was a polar opposite of former USC Head Basketball Coach Dave Odom. Odom was longer in the tooth, played a brand of basketball (half-court offense versus 94 feet of helter-skelter) that was not resonating with fans in the Colonial Life Arena and, most importantly, was not the most enthusiastic recruiter when it came to the AAU basketball circuit where a lot of the top high school talent is mined these days by college coaches.

Recruiting was the first chord that Horn chimed in during his introductory press conference. The Tom Crean disciple (Horn coached under current Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean at Marquette University) said, “The key to being a great coach is being a great recruiter.” Gamecocks’ fans clamored for a young, energizer-bunny head coach that could open doors for Carolina amongst the AAU hotbeds (Atlanta or Charlotte), where successful college basketball coaches feed their programs annually. Unfortunately, Darrin Horn burnt the recruiting bridge to Atlanta within a few weeks on the job, when he told former Dave Odom recruit, Darius Morrow (now at East Carolina University), that he could come to USC, but he would not play a lot of minutes. Horn’s abrasive attitude rubbed several high school coaches in the Atlanta Metro area the wrong way and subsequently USC has been black-balled from the Atlanta AAU circuit since the incident.

So with Atlanta out of the picture as far as a recruiting territory for South Carolina, the Gamecocks coaching staff turned their attention north of the border and within the Palmetto state’s borders. Horn has targeted prospects in North and South Carolina and has had some degree of success signing a total of nine players.

“Another great thing is that we have talent in this state. Let me tell you about my recruiting philosophy. We are going to start on the inside and work our way out. We've done that everywhere I've ever been, and it's led to great success. There is talent in this state. We are going to put a fence up around the state of South Carolina, and the best players in the state are going to be recruited to play at the University of South Carolina,” said Horn back at his introductory press conference at USC.

Since Horn arrived at South Carolina, he has done a decent job of keeping the top Palmetto state talent within our state’s borders. In four recruiting cycles at USC, Coach Horn has signed two of the state’s top home grown talents. In 2010, Horn signed point guard Bruce Ellington, four-star prospect, out of Berkeley High School in Moncks Corner, and then last year the Gamecocks inked shooting guard Damien Leonard, four-star prospect, out of J.L. Mann High School in Greenville. Horn and his staff have signed a total of six basketball prospects from South Carolina: Ellington (2010), Leonard (2011), Johndre Jefferson, JUCO transfer, (2009/graduated last year), Eric Smith, three-star prospect, (2010), R.J. Slawson, three-star prospect, (2010) and Carlton Geathers, three-star prospect, (2010).

The only prospect that has had any degree of impact on the basketball program is sophomore Bruce Ellington, who, during his freshman season, averaged just over 14 points a game. This year Ellington split time between football and basketball and understandably his progression on the hardwood has been stunted this year, because he is not concentrating solely on basketball. The Moncks Corner native has participated in ten basketball games this season and is averaging 11 points/game, while in 17 games freshman SG Damien Leonard is averaging 6.6 points/game. Ellington is the second highest scorer on the team behind senior forward Malik Cooke. Leonard is amongst the top four scorers on the team so far this season.

The other three Palmetto state players on the Gamecocks roster are collectively averaging 12.4 points/game this season. All three players are currently role players off the bench.

Since Horn’s arrival at USC, he has signed a total of 13 players. His first class consisted of four players:

Lakeem Jackson (Jr): three-star prospect (North Carolina); very limited offensive player & poor shooter
Ramon Galloway: three-star prospect (Florida); transferred to LaSalle last year & averaging 15 pts/game
Stephen Spinella: three-star prospect (New Jersey); transferred to Monmouth last year; no longer playing
Johndre Jefferson: JUCO transfer/(Lake Marion, SC): played two years; graduated last year

→Not one single member of Horn’s first recruiting class made a significant impact on the USC basketball program. IMHO, not a single player improved under Horn’s coaching and only one player remains on the team - Jackson!

Horn’s second recruiting class was full of Palmetto state players. He signed six players in 2010:

Bruce Ellington (Soph): four-star prospect (South Carolina); face of the program; starting point guard
R.J. Slawson (Soph): three-star prospect (South Carolina); role player off the bench; decent sixth man
Eric Smith (Soph): three-star prospect (South Carolina); role player; backup point guard
Damontre Harris (Soph): four-star prospect (North Carolina); developing as a decent SEC post player
Carlton Geathers (Rfresh): three-star prospect (South Carolina); below-marginal SEC big man; project
Brian Richardson (Soph): three-star prospect (North Carolina); spot-up shooter; limited offensive skills

→Horn’s second recruiting class is the core of Horn’s basketball product and more than likely will be his downfall since not a single player has drastically improved in year two under Horn’s guidance.

Horn’s third recruiting class included three players in 2011:
Damien Leonard (Fr): four-star prospect (South Carolina); 3-pt shooter, limited shot maker off the dribble
Anthony Gill (Fr.): three-star prospect (North Carolina); skilled big man; high basketball “IQ”
Brenton Williams (JUCO/Jr): three-star prospect (Florida/JUCO); injuries have led to little impact so far

→Horn’s third class has two highly skilled players in Leonard and Gill. Both players were highly recruited and hopefully will improve as the year progresses. Williams was a lightly recruited player out of a Florida Junior College and has missed more than half of the games due to injury.

Horn’s fourth recruiting class is a nice “bookend” to his first class and on paper devoid of talent as a black cloud hovers around the men’s basketball program:
Tyrone Haughton: three-star prospect (Florida); decent low post player on defense but will need extensive coaching at the next level

→Remember, Horn had two Florida prospects, Ian Baker & Carlos Morris, de-commit because of Horn’s uncertainty as the head coach of South Carolina post-2012 season.

Horn is toxic in recruiting circles due to his tumultuous tenure at USC since the end of the 2011 season, when multiple players walked away from the program for multiple reasons. Recruiting is the life blood of any college program and the lack of difference makers on the court at the Colonial Life Arena has created apathy in the fan base and coined the label Colonial Life-“less” Arena. The recruiting evaluations of Coach Horn have been his own worst nemesis in four years at the helm of USC basketball. The future is bleak concerning USC basketball and with the current talent on the roster; recruiting has been a huge part of the disastrous recipe since Horn arrived in Columbia. The apathy of the fan base is apparent when you see the games on television and the crowds are so sparse that it is embarrassing to even be seen by a national audience.

I guess the joke will be on USC if Horn is allowed to continue to patrol the sidelines at the CLA after this season.

SPURspective’s Note: I will run a three-part series on the state of USC basketball under Darrin Horn: Recruiting, Win/Loss Record and Future Replacements,

Go Gamecocks!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

South Carolina Football Recruiting Board

Football recruiting junkies are almost two weeks away from National Signing Day (February 1st), which is always the first Wednesday in the month of February. The Gamecocks currently stand at 24 verbal commitments after receiving a big commitment from Stephenson High School/Stone Mountain, Georgia four-star RB Mike Davis on Friday night during the Georgia native’s official visit to USC’s campus. Three of the 24 verbal commitments (Brock Stadnik, Clayton Stadnik and Kelvin Rainey) enrolled into South Carolina early to participate in spring practice. A fourth early enrollee possibility, Jerrell Adams, more than likely will not be cleared in time by the NCAA Clearinghouse to begin classes at USC this semester, so he will have to wait and enroll in May.

So basically the Gamecocks have three to four scholarships to offer for the 2012 class because only 25 high school, prep or JUCO combination of players can sign Letters-of-Intent on National Signing Day. Plus, once classes begin in the fall, the Gamecocks must be at or under the 85 NCAA-mandated scholarship limit. Also keep in mind that South Carolina might have self-imposed or NCAA-imposed scholarship reductions related to the 2010 “Whitney-gate,” where USC athletes were getting discounted housing accommodations from a Columbia area hotel. If there are scholarship reductions, that squeezes the 2012 scholarship numbers even tighter for the football coaching staff.

So here is a current breakdown of the USC Recruiting Board with verbal commitments in BOLD.


Brendan Nosovitch – Pennsylvania/Official Visit Date: 01/14/2012

Running Back:

Kendric Salley – South Carolina/Official Visit Date: 01/14/2012
Mike Davis – Georgia/Official Visit Date: 01/13/2012

Wide Receivers:

Shaq Roland – South Carolina/Official Visit Date: 01/14/2012
Kwinton Smith – South Carolina/Official Visit Date: 01/14/2012
Jody Fuller – North Carolina/Official Visit Date: 11/11/2011

Quinshad Davis –South Carolina/Davis (6’4”/185 pounds) currently does not have an official visit date with USC. He visited Wake Forest last weekend. He plans to see UNC on 1/21 and Tennessee on 1/28. Shawn Elliott is Davis’ recruiter for the Gamecocks.

Tight Ends:

Jerrell Adams – South Carolina//Official Visit Date: 11/18/2011
Kelvin Rainey – Florida//Official Visit Date: 11/12/2011

Offensive Line:

Brock Stadnik – North Carolina/Official Visit Date: 11/12/2011
Clayton Stadnik – North Carolina/Official Visit Date: 11/11/2011
Cody Waldrop - Florida/Official Visit Date: 09/23/2011
Mason Zandi – South Carolina/Official Visit Date: 01/14/2012
Joe Harris - Georgia/Official Visit Date: 01/14/2012

Defensive Line:

Darius English - Georgia/Official Visit Date: 01/14/2012
Carlos Hood - Georgia/Official Visit Date: 01/14/2012
Jhaustin Thomas - Georgia/Official Visit Date: 01/21/2012

Tyriq McCord – Florida/McCord is a Miami commitment that USC lead for his services throughout, until the Friday night prior to McCord selecting the ‘Canes on national television in the Army All-American game. I believe distance from home was a big factor for McCord, but I get the feeling USC is not giving up on this Tampa product just yet. Mangus is his lead recruiter.

Dalvin Tomlinson – Georgia/Tomlinson (6’3”/275 pounds) had an early offer from the Gamecocks but USC cooled on the defensive tackle prospect, as the Gamecocks focused on other d-line prospects. Now per Phil Kornblut, USC has rekindled interest in the Atlanta Metro area player, as Lorenzo Ward visited Tomlinson on Tuesday at his school, Henry County High School, which is also home of USC defensive back target Chris Moody. USC’s numbers are tight, but it appears the Gamecocks would like to secure one more commitment on the defensive line in this class. Currently, UGA and Georgia Tech would have to be considered the leaders for Tomlinson, but Ward hopefully can reignite Carolina’s interest in time to secure an official visit date for Tomlinson to USC’s campus over the next three weekends.

Josh Dawson – Georgia/Dawson (6’4”/220 pounds) is a Vanderbilt commitment, but there are the proverbial reports that he is looking around at other options. A lot of kids begin to second guess themselves as Signing Day nears and so competing schools, especially in the Southeastern Conference, will pounce on a kid that seems to teeter on a decision. If there is a city in America where USC can go out of state and win a head-to-head battle with a home state school, i.e., UGA or Georgia Tech, it is the Atlanta Metro area where USC’s ace recruiter Lorenzo Ward has really established the Gamecocks as big-time players in recruiting circles. So right now it is unknown if South Carolina will really push Dawson, but he is a new name that has surfaced on the d-line board.

Kenderius Whitehead – Georgia/Whitehead (6’5”/210 pounds) is still uncommitted and recently took a visit to Clemson University this past weekend. As things stand right now, UGA and Clemson would have to be considered the top two choices in the race for this four-star prospect’s signature. Ward also paid a visit to Whitehead on Tuesday during his swing through the ATL. USC would have to be considered a long shot to come from behind and sway Whitehead, but with Ward’s presence in Atlanta this year, never count out the Gamecocks.


Kaiwan Lewis – New Jersey/Official Visit Date: 01/14/2012
T.J. Holloman - Georgia/Official Visit Date: 01/14/2012


Jordan Diggs – Florida//Official Visit Date: 11/25/2012


Kyle Fleetwood - Georgia/Official Visit Date: 01/14/2012
T.J. Gurley - Georgia/Official Visit Date: 01/14/2012

Elijah Shumate – New Jersey/Shumate committed to Notre Dame on national television during the Army All-American Game. USC was once a strong leader for Shumate, particularly after his official visit last November, but once Shumate took an official visit to South Bend, the Irish overtook USC’s lead and gained Shumate’s verbal commitment. The Gamecocks continue communication with the Garden state product, but, IMHO, Shumate is South Bend bound. Mangus is the lead recruiter for Shumate.

Chris Moody – Georgia/Moody is uncommitted at this point in the recruiting process, and USC has renewed its interest in the Peach state athlete. Moody played quarterback in high school, but South Carolina is recruiting Moody as a Safety at the college level. After Shumate committed to Notre Dame, the Gamecocks turned the recruiting heat back up on the McDonough, GA native, and have tentatively set up an official visit date to USC on January 27th for Moody. Lorenzo Ward is the lead recruiter for Moody.


Chaz Elder – Georgia/ Official Visit Date: 11/25/2011
Rico McWilliams – Georgia/ Official Visit Date: 01/14/2012


Nick St. Germain - Georgia/ Official Visit Date: 01/14/2012

In quite a contrasting approach to recruiting this year, the Gamecocks have pretty much put a bow on the 2012 recruiting cycle with just maybe 2-3 uncommitted players still being aggressively pursued by USC’s coaches. Now names may surface on the South Carolina recruiting board with two weeks left to NSD, but for the most part, the Gamecock coaches are focusing on the 2013 underclassmen and getting a jumpstart on next year’s class, because remember, college football recruiting is 24/7, 365 days a year.

Go Gamecocks!

Monday, January 16, 2012

South Carolina Native to Be New USC Running Backs Coach

Steve Spurrier has completed his 2012 staff by hiring former Citadel running back Everette Sands to replace Jay Graham, who departed in December for his alma mater, Tennessee. Sands just completed his first season in Raleigh, as the Running Backs Coach for the N.C. State Wolfpack. Sands has been in the college coaching ranks for 16 years coaching mostly at the FBS & FCS levels at institutions like Elon (1996-98), The Citadel (1999-2000), Ohio University (2001-2004), The Citadel (2005-2010) and NC State (2011). Sands has coached almost his entire career at the Running Backs position.

The Conway, SC native inherits a loaded backfield in Columbia with the return of Marcus Lattimore, Brandon Wilds, Shon Carson, Kenny Miles and the expected signature of RB Mike Davis after his verbal commitment to USC this weekend.

During his one-year stint in Raleigh, Sands recruited two players during the 2011 cycle: Myrtle Beach DE Tyler Knox and RB Shadrach Thornton of Hinesville, GA.

As a player at The Citadel, Sands was an All-Southern Conference player all four years, 1990-1993, and never recorded a single negative yard in four college years of rushing the football.

Welcome to the Gamecocks Nation Coach Sands & family!

Go Gamecocks!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Four Gamecock Commitments Named Parade All-Americans

The 2012 Parade All-American Team was published today and four Gamecock commitments were recognized. The four players are Quarterback Brendan Nosovitch of Allentown, PA; Wide Receiver Shaq Roland of Lexington, SC; Offensive Lineman Brock Stadnik of Greensboro, NC; and Defensive End Darius English of Powder Springs, GA.

The Palmetto state had three representatives on the team: the aforementioned Shaq Roland, Wando High School Defensive Lineman Gimel President and Gaffney High School Wide Receiver Quinshad Davis. A total of 53 high school seniors represented 27 states and one player from the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.).

Congratulations to the four Gamecock commitments on this achievement!

Go Gamecocks!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

South Carolina Nabs First 2013 Football Commitment

Momentum in recruiting is a wave the Gamecocks are riding into National Signing Day and tonight USC got its first commitment for---2013. One day after getting a verbal commitment from highly touted RB Mike Davis, the Gamecocks secured a verbal commitment from D.J. Park an offensive lineman from Dillon High School down in the Pee Dee area of South Carolina. Park is a four-star prospect and ranked the number 217th best prospect in the 2013 class according to 247sports. The massive 6’5” 315 pound road grader is a top five prospect in the 2013 class of South Carolina high school rising seniors.

Park was on an unofficial visit to USC on Saturday and committed to his recruiting coach Shawn Elliott. Elliott will ironically be Park’s position coach when the Dillon native arrives at South Carolina in August of 2013. Elliott offered Park last July when high school junior attended the Gamecocks Showcase Camp.

Park comes from a strong high school program down in Dillon, SC. His teammate wide receiver Kwinton Smith is a verbal commitment to USC in the 2012 class. Smith is on his official visit to Carolina this weekend. Park has some highly touted teammates that also have offers from USC. Offensive lineman Bryce King has a USC offer and the Gamecocks lead for the 2013 interior o-line prospect. Also USC is tracking Dillon RB Jabo Lee who has yet to receive a USC offer.

Per TheBigSpur, Park had multiple offers to consider like Auburn, Clemson, East Carolina, Florida, LSU, N.C. State, UNC, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

With Park’s commitment, the Gamecocks are off to a fantastic start inside the borders of the Palmetto state in regards to recruiting for the next cycle. Remember recruiting is 365 days a year and most importantly it is about relationships. Even though Spurrier has lost some assistant coaches like Ellis Johnson and Jay Graham, Spurrier has kept a key core of coaches, Spurrier Jr., Brad Lawing and Shawn Elliott, who have built trusted relationships with high school coaches around this state over the years and have positioned the Gamecocks to have a very strong haul of the top S.C. talent in 2013.

Go Gamecocks!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Top Georgia Running Back Commits to South Carolina

Per TheBigSpur, Stephenson High School Running Back Mike Davis has committed to USC during his official visit this weekend. The Stone Mountain, GA native is a 247sports Top 50 high school prospect and is the top rated back in the state of Georgia. Davis is the third prospect, Carlos Hood & Kyle Fleetwood, to pledge to the Gamecocks from Stephenson HS in the 2012 recruiting cycle. He is the eleventh verbal commitment for the Gamecocks from the Peach state.
Davis was a one-time Florida commitment but had a falling out with the Gators’ staff and re-opened his recruitment back in early December of last year. USC Defensive Coordinator Lorenzo Ward has been the point man on Davis’ recruitment all along and never gave up on the highly regarded prospect from the Atlanta Metro area even when he was a verbal commitment to Florida.

Heading into the USC visit, Carolina was perceived to be in the lead to acquire Davis’ services come National Signing Day with UGA the closest competition, but this afternoon Georgia secured its second running back commitment from a highly touted prospect, Todd Gurley, out of North Carolina (its second from the Tarheel state) and that pretty much cast Davis’ lot for South Carolina even though the Gamecocks were already the team to beat.

According to 247sports, Davis is a four-start prospect and the 45th ranked prospect overall. He is ranked the 5th best running back overall by 247sports.

Mike Davis is the younger brother of former Clemson Tigers running back James Davis who actually accompanied his little brother to Columbia this weekend.

This is a huge commitment for the Gamecocks coaching staff to secure. Congratulations to Lorenzo Ward for his hard work in the ATL Metro area this year where he has been just killing it with eight verbal commitments from his recruiting territory.

This is the 24th verbal commitment for the Gamecocks in the 2012 class.

Go Gamecocks!

South Carolina Hires Two Football Coaches

South Carolina has hired former University of North Carolina Tarheels Special Teams Coach Joe Robinson. Robinson spent last year in Chapel Hill. Prior to being on the UNC staff, Robinson coached in the SEC under Les Miles at LSU. While at LSU, Robinson’s special teams were ranked #1 in the NCAA special teams.

Robinson will also coach the tight ends position in addition to his special teams coordinator title.

Robinson has previous coaching stops at UCF, Louisiana Tech, Houston and Southern Miss.

The second hire of the day was announced shortly after the Robinson announcement. Former Arkansas tight end and NFL player Kirk Botkin accepted an offer to become the Gamecocks linebackers coach. Botkin last coached in the college ranks at Arkansas in 2010 before he was released by Coach Bobby Petrino. It was during his tenure at Arkansas that Botkin coached one year with current USC Defensive Coordinator Lorenzo Ward during the 2008 season.

In 2011, Botkin was a high school coach in Texas.

Prior to his stint at Arkansas, Botkin coached at Jacksonville State and Louisiana Monroe University.

Botkin played four years in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Welcome to the Gamecock family Coach Robinson & family and Coach Botkin & family!

Go Gamecocks!

Big Football Recruiting Weekend on Deck for USC

This weekend is scheduled to be South Carolina’s biggest football recruiting weekend leading up to National Signing Day on February 1st. The Gamecocks have 23 total verbal commitments for the 2012 recruiting cycle, and four of the commitments have already enrolled into school this semester. The four early enrollees are OL Brock Stadnik, OL Clayton Stadnik, TE Jerrell Adams and TE Kelvin Rainey. Those four prospects did not sign LOIs, Letters-of-Intent, and thus do not count towards the 25 signed LOIs statute that the SEC put into effect this year.

As of right now, the Gamecocks coaches are expecting 16 official visitors on campus beginning Friday/Saturday and running through Sunday/Monday. Of the official visitors at USC this weekend, 15 of the prospects are committed to Carolina, while one official visitor is uncommitted. Eight USC commitments, WR Jody Fuller, OL Brock Stadnik, OL Cody Waldrop, OL Clayton Stadnik, TE Jerrell Adams, DB Chaz Elder, DB Jordan Diggs and TE Kelvin Rainey have already visited the Gamecocks campus officially.

Here is a list of planned visitors to USC’s campus this weekend:

Verbal Commitments in BOLD along with home state
1. DE Darius English (Georgia)
2. RB Mike Davis (Georgia): USC leads UGA and Clemson with Lorenzo Ward as lead recruiter
3. LB T.J. Holloman (Georgia)
4. RB Kendric Salley (South Carolina)
5. OL Mason Zandi (South Carolina)
6. K Nick St. Germain (Georgia)
7. LB Kaiwan Lewis (New Jersey)
8. S Kyle Fleetwood (Georgia)
9. OL Joe Harris (Georgia)
10. WR Shaq Roland (South Carolina)
11. WR Kwinton Smith (South Carolina)
12. QB Brendan Nosovitch (Pennsylvania)
13. DB Rico McWilliams (Georgia)
14. DB T.J. Gurley (Georgia)
15. DE Jhaustin Thomas (Georgia)
16. DT Carlos Hood (Georgia)

There was another in-state official visitor planned to come in this weekend, but according to TheBigSpur, Gaffney High School Wide Receiver Quinshad Davis has chosen to take an official visit to Wake Forest instead of USC. Earlier this week, USC’s coaches informed Davis that he had a “firm” scholarship offer to come into the program in August 2012 and not have to be a greyshirt candidate for January 2013. A greyshirt candidate is a high school prospect that does not sign an LOI in February with his college choice; the player sits out the upcoming football season and then enrolls into the university the following calendar year without signing a Letter-of-Intent. USC has already discussed this option with at least one current Gamecock verbal commitment.

Davis hails from former Gamecocks record-setting wide receiver Sidney Rice’s alma mater, Gaffney HS, and had favored USC earlier in the process, but with Davis’ hesitation to commit early to South Carolina and subsequently three wide receivers committing to USC for this recruiting cycle, the late non-greyshirt offer from Carolina might have allowed out-of-state schools like Wake Forest, UNC and Tennessee to inch ahead of South Carolina for Davis’ services come National Signing Day. IMHO, Wake Forest University is the biggest hurdle for the Gamecocks securing the Gaffney product’s signature as we move closer and closer to February 1st. Davis could still set an official visit to USC but just not this weekend as of right now.

Go Gamecocks!

USC Has Sights on Four Linebacker Coaching Candidates

Per Phil Kornblut of the South Carolina Radio News Network, the USC coaching search for a new linebackers coach has narrowed its focus to four candidates.

The four coaches being considered:

1.Lance Thompson, University of Tennessee Defensive Line coach. Thompson is a graduate of The Citadel and has previous experience coaching linebackers at Tennessee. Thompson is a Nick Saban disciple, having coached at Alabama and LSU with Saban. Thompson has been at Tennessee for three seasons, one under Lane Kiffin and two under Derek Dooley.

2.Kevin Steele, former Clemson Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach. Steele is a Tennessee graduate who has had previous coaching stops at UT, Alabama, FSU, Baylor and Clemson, as well as in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers. Steele was fired from his Defensive Coordinator position at Clemson after giving up a bowl record 70 points to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl.

3.Tyrone Nix, former Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach. Nix was a member of Steve Spurrier’s original cast of coaches from 2005-2007. Nix was the Defensive Coordinator at South Carolina from 2006-2007 before leaving to go to Ole Miss in 2008. Nix was relieved of his duties at Ole Miss after Houston Nutt resigned.

4.Kirk Botkin, former Arkansas Defensive Ends Coach was a member of Bobby Petrino’s staff with Lorenzo Ward for one season at Arkansas before Ward left for USC in 2009. Botkin is currently a high school coach in Texas.

SPURspective’s View: I would instantly rule out Steele and Nix. Spurrier is not going to hire a defensive coordinator whose defense just yielded 70 points in a BCS bowl game on national television. Sources indicate that Lorenzo Ward would not be comfortable with Tyrone Nix back on the staff in Columbia. That leaves Thompson (would require lots of $$$$) and Botkin. Thompson is hoping to be considered for the vacant Defensive Coordinator position on Rocky Top. Ward has coached with Botkin and feels comfortable with the former Razorbacks player and coaching colleague.

My hope is USC ponies up the cash and hires Lance Thompson away from Tennessee, but the reality is USC will more than likely hire Botkin.

Go Gamecocks!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Clemson Fires Defensive Coordinator

Per 107.5 TheGame, in Columbia, SC the Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney has fired Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele. Not sure of any other staff shakeups in Clemson at this time.

Top Five Defining Plays of USC 2011 Season

The 2011 Gamecocks football season was an historical rollercoaster from start to finish. South Carolina started the season ranked 12th in both preseason polls (AP & USA Today/Coaches) and finished 8th in the Coaches’ Poll and 9th in the AP Poll. Carolina kicked off the season on a neutral field in Charlotte, NC versus East Carolina University with a quarterback not named Garcia, and USC completed the season in Orlando, FL against Nebraska University in the Capital One Bowl without Garcia under center, as well. To coin a music lyric, “Against All Odds”, by Phil Collins, the Gamecocks endured a grueling 13 game schedule, earning a record-setting 11 wins without superstar running back Marcus Lattimore (injured during the seventh game of the season) and redshirt senior quarterback Stephen Garcia, benched after the fifth game of the season & dismissed after the sixth game of the season for failing a drug test. I will attempt to convince you of five plays that defined South Carolina’s greatest season ever on the gridiron.

#1 Play: Melvin Ingram’s 68-yard Fake Punt Touchdown Scamper Between the Hedges

With South Carolina trailing UGA 13-7 and facing a 4th & 7 from USC’s own 32-yard line in the second quarter, Gamecocks Special Teams Coach John Butler noticed Georgia’s Punt Return personnel aligned favorably for Butler to reach into his bag of tricks and select a play to try and generate some momentum for USC’s offense. Well, the play called Garnet was executed perfectly by the upback, Melvin Ingram, as Ingram received a direct snap from deep snapper, Walker Inabinet, followed his blocks to the left sideline, hurdled a would-be tackler, UGA’s Brandon Boykin, about 20 yards downfield, and then the 267-pound defensive end raced to the end zone giving South Carolina a 14-13 halftime lead. After Ingram’s Fake Punt, ESPN cameras caught Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt slamming his headset to the ground in disgust after the fake punt. Priceless! South Carolina would squeak out a victory 45-42 and beat Georgia for the second year in a row under Steve Spurrier.

#2 Play: Alshon Jeffery’s Game-Winning Touchdown Reception at Mississippi State

The Mississippi State game represented the first true road game of the post-Stephen Garcia era for South Carolina. USC traveled to Starkville, MS after thumping Kentucky at home 54-3 to begin a tough three-game road stretch at Mississippi State, Tennessee and Arkansas. The game represented Connor Shaw’s first true road start for the Gamecocks in a tough environment as the signal-caller for the Gamecocks. South Carolina was still in control of its own destiny of winning the SEC East but unsure of how its newly anointed sophomore quarterback would perform away from the confines of Williams-Brice stadium. Through three quarters of play, the USC offense was sluggish against a feisty Bulldogs defense. As the fourth quarter began, the Gamecocks trailed 10-7 and were seeking an offensive spark to triumph in Starkville and remain in the driver’s seat of the SEC East. With 9:44 left in the fourth quarter, Shaw, along with Bruce Ellington, march the Carolina offense 75 yards in 11 plays to the MSU four-yard line. On 3rd & Goal, Shaw lobs a pass towards Jeffery in the end zone, where the 6’4” Calhoun County native out jumped two MSU defenders to record the game-winning touchdown for the Gamecocks and salvage a hard-fought 14-12 victory on the road in the SEC. USC would continue to control its own destiny in the race for the SEC East heading into the BYE Week.

#3 Play: Auburn’s Barrett Trotter Completes a 3rd & 13 Pass on Game-Winning Drive

This game was by far the most gut wrenching game for Gamecock fans to endure of any game on the schedule this year. Auburn’s offense executed 92 plays on offense that afternoon in the cockpit, while USC’s offense, led by former USC Quarterback Stephen Garcia, sputtered along to its most lethargic offensive performance of the year. The 10th-ranked Gamecocks were 4-0 and playing on national TV (CBS) against a young, undermanned Auburn team that had lost a lot of production off of last year’s national championship team. Unfortunately, USC’s signal caller, Garcia, was not playing at a high level, it was the first game where starting Left Tackle Kyle Nunn was out with his injury, and these two items led to a disastrous offensive show. Trailing USC 13-9 in the fourth quarter, Auburn took over the ball at its own 40-yard line with less than six minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Facing a 3rd & 13 from its own 42-yard line, AU quarterback Barrett Trotter fires a strike, on the 83rd offensive play of the game for Auburn, to a wide open Tigers WR DeAngelo Benton at the USC 45-yard line. Nine plays later, Trotter finds TE Phillip Lutzenkirchen on a nine-yard touchdown pass. If USC had stopped Auburn on 3rd & 13, forced Auburn to punt and then runoff a few minutes on the clock, who knows if this game has a different result and USC finds a way to win, while keeping its unblemished record intact. This one play may have single-handedly kept South Carolina out of the Georgia Dome in the SEC Championship Game.

#4 Play: Capital One Bowl Hail Mary Touchdown Pass to Alshon Jeffery

The last play in the first half of the Capital One Bowl catapulted South Carolina to an 11-win season. Alshon Jeffery’s amazing last-second TD reception of Connor Shaw’s desperation throw sealed Nebraska’s fate in the game even with another 30 minutes of football to play. Up until that play, USC was trailing 13-9; Nebraska had momentum and was getting the football to start the second half. Jeffery’s leaping catch and subsequent stretch into the end zone gave USC a 16-13 intermission lead and shifted the pendulum into Carolina’s favor the rest of the game, as the Gamecocks defense suffocated Nebraska’s offense in the second half en route to a 30-13 victory and snapping a three-game bowl losing streak.

#5 Play: Fourth Quarter 46-Yard Pass Completion from Shaw to Ace Sanders Against Florida

The Gamecocks clung to a slim 14-12 fourth quarter lead, and Shaw had completed only five passes for a meager 38 yards. Carolina was stagnant on offense, and the Gators were focused on stopping the USC running game. With this game’s outcome hanging in the balance, Steve Spurrier dialed up a go route, and Connor Shaw delivered a perfect pass to WR Ace Sanders for a 46-yard pass completion that placed Carolina in Field Goal range for Kicker Jay Wooten. Four plays following the completion to Sanders, Wooten nailed a 28-yard field goal, giving USC a five-point cushion, 17-12, that dynamically changed UF’s strategy late in the ballgame from kicking a field goal to having to score a touchdown. USC would go on to win the football game, sweep the SEC East divisional opponents for the first time ever and secure six conference wins for the first time as a member of the Southeastern Conference.

Go Gamecocks!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Names Surface for Vacant USC Coaching Jobs

Per AM-560 The Team in Columbia, two names, Air Force’s Des Kitchings & Wake Forest’s Lonnie Galloway, have crept towards the top of the board to replace former Gamecocks RB Coach Jay Graham, who left for Tennessee last month.

Des Kitchings, former Furman football player, is the current RB Coach/Run Game Coordinator at Air Force. Kitchings is a native of Wagner, SC and played his college ball at Furman University. Kitchings coached at Furman from 2004-2007, where he coached special teams and tight ends. Kitchings moved from Furman over to Bobby Johnson’s staff at Vanderbilt from 2008-2010, where he served as RB Coach from 2008-2010 and Offensive Coordinator in 2010. 2011 was his first year at Air Force, where he served as RB Coach/Run Game Coordinator. Kitchings recruited a couple of solid prospects at Vanderbilt in RB Warren Norman and Safety Kenneth Ladler.

Lonnie Galloway, former Western Carolina football player, is the current Co-Passing Game Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach at Wake Forest University. Galloway is a native of Eden, NC. Galloway coached three seasons with current USC Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator Shawn Elliott at Appalachian State University. After his coaching stint in Boone, NC, Galloway headed to West Virginia University, where he coached for three years as the Co-Passing Game Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach for the Mountaineers. Galloway was the only ex-Bill Stewart coaching assistant that current WVU Head Coach Dana Holgerson asked to remain on the Mountaineers football staff, but when the opportunity arose in Winston-Salem, NC it was a chance to get back closer to home. During his time at WVU, Galloway recruited several key current Mountaineers players like four-star prospects WR Tevon Austin (still scoring on Clemson), DE Bruce Irvin (multiple sacks of Tajh Boyd), WR Ivan McCartney, DB Wayne Lyons and DB Jonathon Scott.

Remember, the RB Coach position on Steve Spurrier’s staff is a crucial recruiting position. When Jay Graham left, the Gamecocks were devoid of a strong recruiting presence in the Tarheel state. Either of these candidates would be strong recruiting additions to the staff and now, with three positions open on the staff, maybe both could be options, because Kitchings does have Special Teams coaching experience from his time at Furman and Vanderbilt.

Go Gamecocks!

USC Special Teams Coach Accepts Position at Penn State

According to Tony Morrell of TheBigSpur and AM-560 in Columbia, sources say South Carolina Special Teams Coach John Butler has accepted a position at Penn State University on Bill O’Brien’s football staff. Butler just completed his first season as USC’s Special Teams Coach and Spurs Coach. He came to South Carolina in January 2011 via the Houston Texans. Prior to that, Butler served on former Golden Gopher’s Head Coach Tim Brewster’s staff at Minnesota, where he coached special teams and linebackers. Steve Spurrier must now hire three new coaches (Running Backs, Linebackers & Special Teams) to fill out his 2012 staff.

Under Spurrier the Gamecocks have cycled through several special teams coaches. Fred Goldsmith, Ray Rychleski, Shane Beamer and John Butler to name a few former special teams coaches under Spurrier at South Carolina.

Monday, January 9, 2012

USC Football Welcomes Four 2012 Enrollees to School Today

The Gamecock football team will be welcoming four new members to its football squad for the 2012 season this week. The four players are four-star TE Jerrell Adams (Fork Union Prep/Scotts Branch, SC), four-star OL Brock Stadnik (Western Guilford HS/Greensboro, NC), two-star OL Clayton Stadnik (Western Guilford HS/Greensboro, NC) and three-star TE Kelvin Rainey (Yulee HS/Yulee, FL).

None of the four players will sign a Letter of Intent (LOI) which does not count towards the 25-man limit that the SEC has implemented beginning this year.

Winter conditioning drills will startup next week for the Gamecocks.

Go Gamecocks!

South Carolina Underclassman Decides to Remain in School

The lone remaining USC football letterman that was contemplating a jump to the NFL has elected to stay in school for his senior season. Defensive End Devin Taylor announced this morning his intentions of returning to USC for his redshirt senior season in 2012.

"I still have some things I would like to accomplish at Carolina before I go onto the next level.” said Taylor.

Taylor, 6’7” 260 pounds, is a Beaufort, SC native that started all 13 games this past season and recorded 42 tackles, logged 8.5 tackles-for-loss and registered six sacks. Since the 2009 season, the redshirt senior has started 32 games accumulating 116 tackles, 27 tackles-for-loss and 15.5 sacks.

Go Gamecocks!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Gamecocks Add Another Commitment at All-Star Game

The Army All-American Game was the showcase for another future Gamecock on the gridiron this afternoon in front of a national television audience on NBC. Defensive Back Jordan Diggs announced his intention to wear the Garnet & Black for the next four to five years.

Diggs chose the Gamecocks over Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Diggs is being recruited for the Spur position by G.A. Mangus. He is a Gamecock legacy as his father, Shed, played linebacker for USC in the mid-1980’s. Diggs had multiple offers from several other BCS programs like Nebraska, Michigan State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ole Miss, West Virginia and South Florida. Diggs is 6’2” 190 pounds and played his high school football at Island Coast High School in Cape Coral, FL. Diggs is a four-star prospect by 247sports and is the 28th ranked prospect in the state of Florida. Diggs has already taken all five of his official visits.

Diggs becomes the 23rd known verbal commitment for South Carolina’s 2012 recruiting class.

Go Gamecocks!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Georgia Defensive Back is a Gamecock

Standing in front of a camera on national television, Banneker High School Defensive Back Chaz Elder spurned the home state Georgia Bulldogs and placed a University of South Carolina Gamecocks hat atop his head. Elder had long favored USC in the recruiting process and tonight finally ended speculation that he would be playing his college football in Columbia, SC. Newly anointed USC Defensive Coordinator Lorenzo Ward recruited Elder and sold the Peach state product on playing the Cornerback position at the next level. Elder is a 6’2” 185 pounder and Ward is a big believer in taller cornerbacks in his scheme that he will run next season. Elder becomes South Carolina’s 22nd known commitment in the 2012 class and becomes the 10th verbal commitment from the state of Georgia for the Gamecocks. Ward and the Gamecocks might not be done in the Atlanta Metro area this recruiting cycle either; Stephenson High School Running Back Mike Davis is supposedly down to USC and UGA and will decide on National Signing Day Eve, January 31st.

Elder is the second commitment for South Carolina this week as the Gamecocks secured a verbal commitment from Kicker Nick St. Germain Wednesday afternoon. St. Germain is out of Powder Springs, Georgia and plays at McEachern High Schol.

Decision Day for Georgia Defensive Back At All-Star Game

Banneker High School star DB Chaz Elder will announce a decision tonight on ESPNU during the Under Armor All-American game sometime after 7:30 p.m. Elder has narrowed his choices down to USC, UGA and Vanderbilt. Elder has favored South Carolina throughout the recruiting process since last summer and almost committed to the Gamecocks in August before postponing his decision until tonight. Georgia got the last official visit from Elder during a December 16th weekend trip to Athens, but it is perceived that Elder’s strong relationship with newly appointed Defensive Coordinator Lorenzo Ward will be too strong for the Bulldogs and Commodores to overcome. Plus, South Carolina has always recruited Elder as a Cornerback versus a Safety. Elder prefers Cornerback. Elder is a 6’2” 185 pound prospect that plays at the same high school that former Gamecocks defensive back Carlos Thomas played in Atlanta. Even though Elder will announce his college decision the prep athlete might still visit other schools like Vanderbilt and possibly Arkansas. Elder is a four-star prospect.

SPURspective’s Prediction: South Carolina

Go Gamecocks!

USC's Gilmore & Jeffery Declare for the NFL Draft

Two prominent USC underclassmen will be taking their talents to the next level of football as both Stephon Gilmore and Alshon Jeffery officially announced their intentions to leave school early and make themselves available for the 2012 NFL Draft in April. Per TheBigSpur, both players will not hire an agent until January 15th when college underclassmen must make a firm decision to stay or go pro. Jeffery is the second best wide receiver in the draft behind Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon while Gilmore has been projected as anywhere from a first rounder or a middle round selection.

Good luck to both players and thanks for their contributions to the South Carolina football program!

Go Gamecocks!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gamecocks Welcome New Kicker Commitment

Per TheBigSpur, the Gamecocks have accepted the verbal commitment of Kicker Nick St. Germain of Powder Springs, GA. He is a high school teammate of current USC commitment Defensive End Darius English and former teammate of Gamecocks freshmen Tight End Rory Anderson and Linebacker Marcquis Roberts of McEachern High School. St. Germain becomes the 21st commitment in the 2012 class and was recruited to USC by Coach G.A. Mangus.

Go Gamecocks!

Capital One Bowl Review: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

The South Carolina Gamecocks concluded a historic season on Monday afternoon by defeating the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 30-13, in the Capital One Bowl. Steve Spurrier has overcome 118 seasons of mediocrity and accomplished what 32 predecessors prior to him at USC could not attain ---an 11-win football season in Columbia. FYISPURspective did predict an eleven-win campaign for South Carolina during the preseason; albeit, I admit that I did predict 11 wins in the regular season (not including the bowl game). Carolina defeated the fourth most successful football program in NCAA football history (Nebraska 846 all-time victories) with the convincing victory over the ‘Huskers in Orlando. Before I list the highlights & low-lights from the game, let’s review the obstacles this team overcame throughout the season to achieve an 11-win season. The Gamecocks lost several key components to its squad during the season, like Cornerback Akeem Auguste (played a handful of snaps in the UGA game before taking a medical redshirt with foot injury), OL Kyle Nunn (missed the last eight games of regular season before returning to the bowl game), Quarterback Stephen Garcia (dismissed from the team after failing drug test and countless personal issues) and then the heart & soul of the team RB Marcus Lattimore (suffers a knee injury in the MSU game). The culture of this program has definitely been changed under Spurrier in seven years and there are no better facts to back up this argument than the distractions and injuries that did not derail this team’s quest to rewrite the history books at the University of South Carolina this year. The DNA in this program has changed 180 degrees under the Spurrier regime and finally patient Gamecock fans can be proud of their football program with a resounding bowl game victory over a tradition-rich program like Nebraska, an 11-win season and back-to-back-to back convincing victories over Clemson!

With that said, let’s take a look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly from the Capital One bowl.

The Good:
→Steve Spurrier won his 55th game as Head Football Coach at the University of South Carolina. Spurrier is now 55-35 in seven full seasons at South Carolina. That is a .611% winning percentage. Spurrier is second all-time on USC’s Career Wins List for USC football coaches, trailing only Rex Enright (64 all-time wins)
→USC snaps a three-game bowl losing streak (Outback – Iowa ’09, PapaJohn’s.com – UConn 2010 & Chick-fil-A – 2010)
→South Carolina finishes a season on a four-game win streak for the first time since 1958, per WOLO-TV 25 in Columbia
→The Gamecocks finish in the AP Top 25 for the seventh time in school history
→USC will be represented in the final AP & Coaches Poll Top 10 for the first time ever
→The 14-member senior class earned more victories (34) than any other senior group in South Carolina football history
→Gamecocks earn elusive 11th win for the first time ever in program history
→School record 20 wins over the past two seasons, per The State newspaper
→Junior Wide Receiver Alshon Jeffery named Capital One Bowl MVP; playing less than four quarters
→The Calhoun County native set a new school record of 100-yard receiving games (12) with a four reception, 148-yard and one Pass TD (Hail Mary) performance. Jeffery’s finale in a Gamecocks jersey (going pro) was his first 100-yard receiving game of the season
→WR Alshon Jeffery has caught a pass in 36 straight games. He now trails Kenny McKinley’s school record, 43 straight games with a reception, by seven games
→Jeffery tied Sidney Rice’s all-time Touchdown receptions record (23) at USC with his heroic Hail Mary catch at the end of the first half
→Shaw tosses eight TD passes over the last three games against one INT (The Citadel)
→Connor Shaw – touchdown machine as he accounted for three touchdowns in the bowl game (two TD passes & one TD run) and a total of 13 touchdowns during USC’s four-game win streak to close out the season
→Zero turnovers in a bowl game
→Unblemished Fourth Down Conversion Rate Offense going a perfect 3-3 (100%)
→Smothering Gamecocks defense limited Cornhuskers offense to 253 total yards, registered six sacks (season high), and recorded 11 tackles-for-loss for negative 52 yards
→Lorenzo Ward’s “in-game adjustments” holding Nebraska scoreless after first quarter and limiting the Cornhuskers to 64 total yards in the second half & negative yards 18 over the last four NU possessions, per John Whittle of TheBigSpur
→Ball-hawking USC defense forced two turnovers finishing the season with 32 turnovers gained (19 INTs & 13 Fumble Recoveries)
→USC’s Third-Down Conversion Rate Defense yielded only 3-13 (23%)
→Blocked PAT by Travian Robertson and two-point conversion return by Stephon Gilmore
→“Walking in High Cotton” Nebraska Associate Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach, Barney Cotton, is a USC streak savior. Barney was on the New Mexico State staff in 2000 when Carolina ended its 21-game losing streak and he obviously was on NU’s staff this year when the Gamecocks ended their three-game bowl losing streak, per Andy Demetra, USC basketball/baseball play-by-play personality.

The Bad:
→Early returns on Lorenzo Ward’s defensive scheme were not popular as Nebraska’s offense scored touchdowns on its first two possessions
→Lack of focus on both teams’ part as the squads combined for 16 penalties
→Special Teams were anything but “special” in this game, as Kicker Jay Wooten missed a 20-yard attempt, while Punter Joey Scribner Howard shanked his first two punts
→USC wide receivers unable to get open during the first offensive series as Connor Shaw had all day to throw the ball but could not find WRs open down the field

The Ugly:
→The third quarter fist-a-cuffs between Alshon Jeffery and Alfonzo Dennard, which ultimately led to both players’ ejections from the game. Jeffery’s subsequent ejection cost him a chance to become the SEC’s all-time yards receiving leader (UGA’s Terrence Edwards 3,093) & USC’s Touchdown Receptions Leader.

Congratulations Gamecocks!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Alshon Jeffery Sets another Gamecocks Receiving Record

Alshon Jeffery has set a new school record for 100-yard receiving games in a career with twelve as he breaks former Gamecock WR Sidney Rice’s record of eleven. Jeffery also has tied Rice’s Career TD Reception record of 23 with his late first half Hail Mary TD reception from Connor Shaw.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Five Keys to a South Carolina Victory Over Nebraska

The South Carolina Gamecocks can distinguish themselves as winning the most games in school history by defeating 20th ranked Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl on Monday. South Carolina’s football program has never exceeded more than ten wins in a season (’84 & ‘2011) but the possibility for that elusive number “11” is attainable with a win over the Cornhuskers. The Gamecocks enter the bowl game riding a three game winning streak (Florida, The Citadel and Clemson) to close out the regular season. Nebraska comes into bowl season winning two out of three games down the stretch against Penn State and Iowa, while losing in The Big House to Michigan. Under Steve Spurrier, the Gamecocks are 1-4 in bowl games and riding a three-game bowl losing streak. The Cornhuskers are 3-1 in bowl games under Head Coach Bo Pelini, losing last year to Washington. Nebraska is undefeated (3-0) all-time versus South Carolina, most recently winning a home-and-home series in ’86 & ’87. Nebraska is 12-5 all-time versus the SEC in bowl games, including a 7-4 record against top ten SEC opponents in the postseason.

There are many different storylines entering this game bowl match-up. There is a new USC defensive coordinator, Lorenzo Ward, since the end of the Clemson game, as Ellis Johnson departed for Hattiesburg, MS to take over the reins at Southern Miss University. There is no Linebackers or Running Backs Coach for USC. Nebraska has a new defensive coordinator, as well, as its d-coordinator, Carl Pelini, accepted the Head Coach position at Florida Atlantic University. Nebraska has hired a former d-line coach, Rick Kaczenski, from Iowa, who once was a Graduate Assistant at South Carolina during the Lou Holtz regime.

A milestone victory over a storied, tradition-rich Nebraska football program would have such a positive impact on the Gamecocks football team heading into the offseason. Eleven wins, immense recruiting momentum and a stamp on a memorable Garnet & Black calendar year!

So enough history lessons for now, let’s take a look at the five key components that will determine a USC victory on Monday afternoon.

Zone Read Option has been money for South Carolina since the insertion of Connor Shaw into the starting quarterback position mid-season after the demotion of Stephen Garcia. Shaw is the leading rushing quarterback in the SEC with 483 rushing yards on 116 attempts, including his best rushing effort of the season against in-state rival Clemson with a 107 rushing yard performance. Complementing Shaw is freshman RB Brandon Wilds, who has eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark three times in four starts, while seldom-used Kenny Miles emerged as the work horse in the season finale against Clemson with 71 yards rushing on 21 carries. Nebraska’s Achilles heel this year has been stopping mobile quarterbacks like Shaw, and the Cornhuskers demonstrated susceptibility when facing a mobile quarterback in three losses (Wisconsin, Northwestern and Michigan) this season. USC runs the Zone Read Option play out of dozens of different formations, and Shaw’s speed and decision-making in executing the Zone Read Option has ignited South Carolina’s ground game down the stretch. Since Shaw took over the reins at quarterback, the Gamecocks ground game has churned out six 200-yard-plus rushing performances. Remember, the Gamecocks are 18-0 under Steve Spurrier when rushing the football for 200 yards or more. IMHO, the two most important numbers for USC to win this game are 40 and 70%. The Gamecocks are undefeated (9-0) when attempting 40-plus rush attempts. In The Citadel game, USC only rushed a meager 37 times! In the three Cornhuskers’ losses, their Big Ten opponents ran the football at least 70 percent of their respective offensive plays. If any combination of Shaw, Miles or Wilds accumulates 40 or more carries then that bodes well for South Carolina. FYI, Nebraska’s preseason All-American Defensive Tackle Jared Crick suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the Washington game and had his season shut down following the Ohio State game to avoid further damage.

Addition by subtraction might actually benefit USC along the line of scrimmage, if Terrance Campbell is unable to play many snaps on the offensive line on Monday. Campbell is trying to persevere through a broken fibula he suffered during the Clemson game at the end of the first half, but on Friday and Saturday the sixth-year senior wasn’t able to participate in practice. With the return of fifth-year senior Kyle Nunn at Left Tackle and the emergence of freshman Mike Matulis at Right Tackle, o-line coach Shawn Elliott has been afforded the luxury of practicing All-SEC performer Rokevious Watkins at Right Guard, IMHO his most natural position on the o-line. I hope Campbell is well enough to play, but if he cannot play, then I think shifting Watkins inside to RG would provide Carolina a bigger, more physical presence at the point-of-attack in the Zone Read Option portion of the playbook. A starting o-line unit of Left Tackle – Kyle Nunn, Left Guard – AJ Cann, Center – TJ Johnson, Right Guard – Rokevious Watkins and Right Tackle – Mike Matulis would be the best combo that o-line coach Shawn Elliott could trot out onto the field. Getting Kyle Nunn back from his back surgery is a huge bonus, when Steve Spurrier calls for the vertical passing game. Blocking Shaw’s blindside when the sophomore takes five or seven step drops (staples of SOS’ offenses) was treacherous for the Georgia native, as defenses amassed 22 sacks against USC during Nunn’s absence. The Gamecocks yielded just four sacks when Nunn anchored the left side of the offensive line.

USC’s front seven must contain the two-headed monster of Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead on early downs. If the Nebraska tandem reaches the perimeter of the Carolina defense, it will expose our slower linebacker’s corps ability to pursue from sideline-to-sideline. Nebraska will undoubtedly attempt to exploit the middle of the USC d-line, which has been vulnerable against the run throughout the season. South Carolina’s Rush Defense ranks 44th in FBS, allowing just less than 136 rushing yards/game (3.68 yards per carry); if you remove the run-heavy opponents, Wofford & The Citadel, the Gamecocks are only yielding 111.6 rushing yards/game and a meager 3.26 yards per carry by opposing ball carriers, which is very respectable. Nebraska unfortunately is predominantly run-oriented (14th Rush Offense in FBS) and averages 47 rush attempts & slightly less than 224 rushing yards/game. The best rush defense the Cornhuskers faced all year was Michigan State (12th, 104 yards/game) in which the Cornhuskers rushed 58 times for 190 yards (3.28 yards per carry, respectable) in a 24-3 win in Lincoln, NE. In the three losses, the Cornhuskers averaged 3.84 yards per carry while averaging 36 rush attempts (eleven less than NU’s season average) for just less than 140 yards on the ground. Limiting the success of Martinez and Burkhead on first & second downs can negate Nebraska’s strength and force the Cornhuskers’ Martinez into passing situations that will play into USC’s strength, Pass Defense, which is ranked 2nd in FBS and forcing turnovers (30 TOs gained), INTs – 18 & Fumble Recoveries - 12.

Eliminate any “Cornhusker Kickbacks” on Special Teams that provide Nebraska any momentum swings during the game. The Cornhuskers are 6th in FBS in Kickoff Returns averaging just less than 26 yards/game, while the Gamecocks allow just over 22 kickoff return yards per kickoff. The biggest kickoff return threat is Ameer Abdullah, who has one kickoff return (100-yard KOR TD versus Fresno State) for a touchdown to his credit this year. Abdullah averages 30 kickoff return yards/game. The Cornhuskers rank near the bottom, 95th overall, of the FBS in Kickoff Return Yardage Allowed. NU surrenders almost 24 kickoff return yards per kickoff. The Gamecocks average 21 kickoff return yards per attempt.

Gar-CYA three-game bowl losing streak without the Lutz, FL native taking snaps for the Gamecocks. Love him or hate him the lightning rod quarterback often saved his worst performances for post-season play in a Gamecocks uniform over his career. In three career bowl games played by Garcia, the former quarterback accounted for nine total turnovers (seven INTs & two fumbles). Six of the seven interceptions occurred in the first halves of the Outback (Jan. ’09) & Chick-fil-A (Dec. 2010) bowl games, which put his team in horrible early deficits that the Gamecocks were unable to overcome. Leading up to last year’s Chick-fil-A bowl game in Atlanta, Garcia and some other teammates violated team rules by allowing coeds into their hotel rooms post-curfew. The incident was not made known to the public until March, when Steve Spurrier announced Garcia would be suspended for spring practice for violating team rules at the bowl game. The Gamecocks will welcome a quarterback this bowl season that abides by the rules and prepares 100 percent for the upcoming bowl game instead of extracurricular activities off the field. Hopefully with a focused and motivated quarterback, Carolina can start a bowl winning streak and Gar-CYA the bowl losing streak.

SPURspective’s Prediction: USC shucks the Huskers back to Lincoln, Gamecocks win 38-24.

Go Gamecocks!