April 18, 2008
|Spring Game Central
QUICKLY: The annual Garnet & Black Spring Game, which is the culmination of the 15 spring practices allowed by the NCAA, is set for Saturday, April 19. Game time is set for 1 p.m. at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. Admission to the 2008 spring game is free to the public.
TELEVISION: This year’s Garnet & Black Spring Game will be televised on a tape-delay basis on CSS. Brad Muller, Derek Scott and George Rogers will be in the booth. The game will air later Saturday at 4 p.m. The show will initially air as a two-hour program. Later, CSS will edit the show, add some interviews, and re-air the program multiple times throughout the summer.
NEW COACHES IN TOWN: Steve Spurrier made a pair of changes to his coaching staff in the off-season, bringing in Ellis Johnson to be the new defensive coordinator and Ray Rychleski to coordinate the special teams. Johnson has spent the past four seasons as the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State under Sylvester Croom. He actually comes to Carolina following a very brief stint on Bobby Petrino’s staff at Arkansas. Rychleski takes over as special teams coordinator and tight ends coach, a similar role to what he held for the past seven years at the University of Maryland.
COACHING RESPONSIBILITIES: With Ellis Johnson taking over as defensive coordinator, he will also be in charge of the Gamecock linebackers. Shane Beamer, who coached the outside linebackers and served as co-coordinator of special teams a year ago, will now work exclusively with the cornerbacks. Ron Cooper, who handled the secondary a season ago, will oversee the safeties. In addition, this spring, Coach Spurrier indicated that Steve Spurrier, Jr. will be taking over more of the offensive play-calling duties in 2008.
RETURNING STARTERS: The Gamecocks officially return 17 starters from the 2007 squad (six on offense, 10 on defense and one specialist). The returning offensive starters are OG Seaver Brown, OG Lemuel Jeanpierre, WR Dion Lecorn, WR Kenny McKinley, OT Jamon Meredith and OT Justin Sorensen. The returning defensive starters include DT Ladi Ajiboye, S Emanuel Cook, DT Marque Hall, LB Cliff Matthews, CB Captain Munnerlyn, DE Eric Norwood, LB Rodney Paulk, LB Marvin Sapp, FS Darian Stewart, CB Carlos Thomas. Senior Ryan Succop is the returning punter and placekicker. The list does not include middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who started all 13 games in 2006 and the first four games of the 2007 season before suffering a season-ending knee injury, or DT Nathan Pepper, who started 12 games in 2006 and each of the first three games in 2007 before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
POSITION CHANGES: Several players tried new positions this spring. Most notably, Yvan Banag moved from linebacker to fullback; Mark Barnes moved from wide receiver to safety; Chris Culliver moved from wide receiver to safety; Clark Gaston moved from fullback to tight end; Cliff Matthews moved from linebacker to defensive end; and Eric Norwood moved from defensive end to linebacker.
NEW ARRIVALS: Six scholarship players will be getting their first taste of Division I college football this spring. The six include three players who spent last fall at Fork Union Military Academy and three others who graduated from high school in December. The Fork Union trio includes defensive back Antonio Allen, cornerback Akeem Auguste and tailback Eric Baker, all of whom originally signed with Carolina in February of 2007. The trio of December grads includes safety Jay Spearman, wide receiver C.C. Whitlock and linebacker Shaq Wilson.
SIDELINED: Several players have been sidelined with injuries and will not participate in the spring game. Those sidelined include: Jasper Brinkley (knee), Emanuel Cook (left thumb), Dustin Lindsey (knee), Kenny McKinley (toe), Captain Munnerlyn (foot), Nick Prochak (left leg), Nathan Pepper (knee), Marvin Sapp (hernia), Jay Spearman (left shoulder).
THE 2008 OPENER: The Gamecocks will host the North Carolina State Wolfpack on Thursday, Aug. 28 on ESPN to kick off the 2008 season, the 115th season of intercollegiate football at the USC. That contest will mark the renewal of an old rivalry, one that dates back to 1900. The teams have met 55 times previously, with NC State holding a slim 26-25-4 advantage. The teams are slated to meet again in Raleigh in 2009.
DATES TO REMEMBER:
Saturday, July 19 Ladies Clinic
Friday, July 25 South Carolina at SEC Media Day
Monday, July 28 Coaches/Media Golf Tourney
Thursday, July 31 Players Report for Fall Camp