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Sept. 8, 2003

by Matthew Shoultz, USC Sports Information

Dondrial Pinkins always knew that he had the skills to compete in major college football. This year the fleet-footed quarterback will finally get his chance to lead the Gamecocks.

“It means a lot, I’ve been here three years and now finally have the chance to go into the season as the starter,” said Pinkins. “I look forward to going out and doing the best job that I can do.”

Pinkins came out of high school figuring that he would step right in and lead the Gamecocks to the promised land. However, he learned quickly that this was going to be no walk in the park.

“While playing behind guys like Phil Petty and Corey Jenkins I learned a lot,” said Pinkins. “I thought I was ready to come in and play. After being behind those two guys I realized that I wasn’t ready to come in and start at this level. It takes a lot of film studying and just watching my mistakes made me a better quarterback.”

Pinkins started the final two games in 2002 against Florida and Clemson and was 16-for-41 for 253 yards. Statistics do not tell the whole story; however, as the redshirt junior came away with valuable game experience and some motivation for the upcoming year.

“Obviously, they gave me the opportunity to start and play the whole game. I got a little game experience, two games isn’t a lot, but it was enough to get me ready for this season,” said Pinkins referring to the experience gained against Florida and Clemson. “I am just 1-2 as a starter right now and I just want to learn from my mistakes and get much better as a quarterback and team leader.”

The Camilla, Ga., native, placed first in the Countdown Combine while in high school with a toss of 73 yards. This year Pinkins feels that all of the weapons are in place to make this one of the most potent Gamecock offenses in recent memory.

“We have more offensive weapons that can make plays this year at both running back and wide receiver,” said Pinkins. “We have a solid offensive line, as we did last year, but with the depth we have, we can wear down the opponents’ defense when we have more guys to stick in the game.”

Coming off last season’s tough loss to an up-and-coming Virginia football team Pinkins feels that the Gamecocks are ready to face the challenge of playing them in front of more than 82,000 screaming Gamecock faithful.

“I think playing them at home will be a big factor. Last year we went out and played at Virginia and I think the biggest key to that game was the turnovers,” said Pinkins. “This year we feel if we just protect the ball as an offense and our defense and special teams play well, we will have a better opportunity for success. Virginia is an excellent team, a top-15 ranked team, that has a lot of talented athletes.”

The main goal for Pinkins this year is to always be prepared. He credits Coach Holtz for teaching him about preparing mentally and physically for not only football, but for life.

“I have learned a lot from Coach Holtz about being prepared. Preparation is the key to being successful. If you don’t prepare, you won’t be successful in life,” said the Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management major. “Coach Holtz teaches us to be prepared for anything that the other team might throw at us.”

Rest assured Gamecock faithful, Dondrial Pinkins is poised and prepared for the 2003 season.