Dec. 10, 2009
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina freshmen WR Alshon Jeffery, DB Stephon Gilmore, OL T.J. Johnson and DE Devin Taylor were named to the SEC’s All-Freshman Team as selected by the league’s coaches, the conference announced Thursday.
Jeffery was one of four unanimous selections to the rookie squad, joining Alabama OL Barrett Jones, Vanderbilt PK Ryan Fowler and Ole Miss P Tyler Campbell. The native of St. Matthews, S.C., leads the Gamecocks with 43 catches for 735 yards and six touchdowns, becoming South Carolina’s go-to receiver midway through the season. Jeffery is sixth in the SEC averaging 61.2 receiving yards per game and is the only freshman in the league’s top 10. He racked up three 100-yard receiving games on the season with an eight-catch, 161-yard performance against Vanderbilt ranking as the best by a Carolina wideout since Sidney Rice also amassed 161 yards against Florida Atlantic in 2006.
Gilmore, a defensive back from Rock Hill, S.C., was one of five Gamecocks to start all 12 games during the regular season. He finished fifth on the team with 52 tackles on the season, including 5.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. Gilmore found a way to be everywhere on the field, sharing the team lead with eight passes broken up and adding two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception to his overall stats. His most memorable moment of the season, though, came in the regular-season finale against Clemson where the former quarterback at South Pointe High School lined up in a variation of the “Wildcat” formation and led the Gamecocks on a 60-yard scoring drive where he accounted for 59 of those 60 yards (20 rushing, 39 passing).
Johnson was the only Gamecock offensive lineman to start all 12 games at the same position during the season. The native of Aynor, S.C., redshirted during the 2008 season but became the stalwart of the Carolina offensive line in 2009. After being named the team’s Most Improved Offensive Lineman after spring practice last season, Johnson remained steady at right guard throughout the season’s 12 games while nine different athletes made at least one start at the other four spots on the line.
Taylor, a native of Beaufort, S.C., finished the regular season with 26 tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. The redshirt freshman made a fantastic debut in the season-opener against NC State, where he forced a fumble on his first collegiate snap that eventually led to the winning score. He also blocked a punt and racked up six tackles, including a sack and three tackles for loss. For his efforts, he was named the league’s Defensive Lineman of the Week.
South Carolina tied for the league lead with four selections to the squad, joining Mississippi State and Vanderbilt for that distinction. It marks the second honors in as many days for the Gamecock foursome as Jeffery and Gilmore were both named first-team Freshman All-Americans by Phil Steele Publications and CollegeFootballNews.com on Wednesday while Taylor earned third-team honors and Johnson was named honorable mention.