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March 28, 2003

This spring takes on even more emphasis for the Gamecocks offensive line with heavy competition for starting positions. After losing four starters, but returning players with game experience, finding a cohesive unit will be the key during spring drills.

“The 15 practices this spring are critical for the line,” said offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo. “We need to get the most out of every repetition in practice. Competition is very good and I have seen them make strides toward being better than last season.”

Preseason All-America candidate Travelle Wharton is lone returning starter at left tackle and will be counted on as the leader of the unit. The senior and 2003 team captain returns the experience of 32 starts and 34 games played and is regarded as one of the most talented offensive line performers ever to play at USC. Despite the accolades and owning a starting position, Wharton is taking nothing for granted this spring.

“I have high standards for myself, so I feel like I have a lot to work on,” said Wharton. “There is also someone behind you that is trying to win your job and I want to lead this line by setting an example of always working to get better.”

Slated to start opposite Wharton at right tackle is Na’shan Goddard, a 2002 Freshman All-American and SEC All-Freshman selection by The Sporting News. After redshirting in 2001, Goddard appeared in nine games, making three starts last season.

“Our line is gelling together very well,” said Goddard. “We are interacting and learning as a group and Travelle is showing that he is a great leader in bringing us all together.”

Between the tackles, position competition is wide open. Senior Jeff Barnes, junior Jonathan Alston, junior John Strickland, junior Chad Walker, and sophomore Jabari Levey are among those returning with game experience. The group is part of those fighting for the three interior starting slots along with redshirt freshmen Jon Hall, Kris Mick and others.

“We are trying to find the right chemistry among the group,” said DeGuglielmo. “Most of the guys who are fighting for starting spots have played a couple of positions. We just need to get the best five guys and put together the right mix.”

The Offensive Line Roster
52 Jeff Barnes, 6-4, 286, Sr., Fayetteville, Ga. (Fayetteville)
60 Chris White, 6-4, 310, Fr.-RS, Chester, S.C. (Chester)
61 Brandon Robinson, 6-4, 265, Fr.-RS, Cumming, Ga. (South Forsyth)
63 Kris Mick, 6-5, 290, Fr.-RS, Troy, Ohio (Troy)
68 Travelle Wharton, 6-4, 315, Sr., Fountain Inn, S.C. (Hillcrest)
69 Stephen Sene, 6-6, 320, Fr.-RS, Columbia, S.C. (Dutch Fork)
70 Na’shan Goddard, 6-6, 305, So., Dayton, Ohio (Dunbar)
72 Jonathan Alston, 6-5, 302, Jr., Goose Creek, S.C. (Stratford)
73 Jon Hall, 6-5, 296, Fr.-RS, Cisco, Ga. (Murray County)
74 John Strickland, 6-5, 304, Jr., Bainbridge, Ga. (Bainbridge)
75 Chad Walker, 6-4, 311, Jr., Albertville, Ala. (Albertville)
78 Jabari Levey, 6-7, 340, So., Moncks Corner, S.C. (Berkeley)
79 Josh Malloy, 6-5, 335, So., Shelby, N.C. (Crest)