March 25, 2015 • Volume 37 • Issue 4 • $1.50
Back to the Grind!
Gamecocks get back to work with start of spring practice
2 • Spurs & Feathers
Spurs & Feathers
March 25, 2015
What’s Inside? - Table of Contents
Published by Aiken Communications, Inc.
Contact Us: 301 Greystone Blvd. Columbia, SC 29210 (803) 335-1399 To subscribe: Please call 800-559-2311; annual subscription price is $50 Ellen Priest Publisher Aiken Communications, Inc. Tim O’Briant General Manager email@example.com (803) 335-1400 Ext. 500 Brian Hand Executive Editor firstname.lastname@example.org (803) 335-1399 Ext. 506 Ed Girardeau Contributing Editor/ Advertising Account Executive email@example.com (803) 646-9807 Dee Taylor Advertising Director (803) 644-2371 Kathy Boyette Advertising Sales Manager (803) 295-3654 firstname.lastname@example.org Brooks Rogers Advertising Representative (803) 446-4022 email@example.com Reporters Kyle Heck and Collyn Taylor Photographers Allen Sharpe and Jenny Dilworth Mary Watson Graphic Designer Cover Design: Brian Hand (photo by Juan Blas) Postal Information: SPURS & FEATHERS (USPS 12779) (ISSN 7454368X) is published 20 times annually. The frequency is monthly from December to February, bi-weekly in March, monthly in April, bi-weekly in May, monthly in June and bi-weekly from August-December. SPURS & FEATHERS also publishes three slick-paper magazine issues — one in April, one in June and one in August. The annual subscription price is $50 for non Gamecock Club members. Members of the Gamecock Club receive a discounted subscription as a member benefit. Spurs & Feathers is published by Aiken Communications, Inc., 326 Rutland Drive NW, Aiken, SC, 29801-4010. Periodicals postage paid at Columbia, SC Postmaster: Send changes to SPURS & FEATHERS, PO Box 456, Aiken, SC, 29802.
photo by alison burns
Steve Spurrier takes time to take a picture with some of Greenwood’s finest during his visit to Greenwood, S.C. last week.
Selection show event fun for all................................................................ 3 South Carolina kicks off spring practice.................................................. 5 Quarterback competition in full swing................................................... 6 No. 1 priority is to set base defense for Hoke........................................ 8 HBC speaks with passionate Gamecocks in Greenwood................10 South Carolina fans raise bar for attendance......................................12 South Carolina pre-spring depth chart.................................................13 Recruiting Roundup.....................................................................................14 South Carolina spring football roster.....................................................16 Inside Look with Glenn Snyder.................................................................17 Langston Moore column............................................................................18 Bill Gunter column........................................................................................20 Inside the Chart..............................................................................................22 South Carolina holds “Thank Alumni for Giving Day”......................24 Brown has become huge supporter of Gamecock equestrian.....26 Upcoming Gamecock Club events.........................................................27 Sights from start of spring practice........................................................28 Mangus visits with Aiken County Gamecock Club............................29
photo by jenny dilworth
Kyle Martin gets a little wet as the Gamecocks celebrate his game-winning tworun home run in South Carolina’s third game win over Kentucky in 10 innings. The win allowed South Carolina to open SEC play with a sweep of Kentucky.
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March 25, 2015
one.FAN-ily Selection Show treat for all at CLA by collyn taylor Reporter
the fans all night. Each player on the team selected one person from the crowd to compete in a lip sync battle, free throw and celebration The board filled with Gamecock women’s contest. basketball highlights as the crowd began to They also gave out t-shirts and gave the swell and yell as the time ticked closer to the fans opportunities to ask Staley and the playbig unveiling. ers questions. Both Staley and the players It was the moment the Gamecock team thanked the fans, saying that they would be in played all season for: the selection show that this position without the support of the fans all would show them who and where they would season. be playing in the NCAA Tournament. The fans have been on social media, talking To join them for the big show were some of to Staley about the program and trying to start their biggest fans. campaigns to sell Colonial Life Arena out. The team hosted their second straight view- Staley said the fans have become a big part of ing party for the Selection Monday show on the program and it showed at the event. March 16 where they decided to give back to Every member of the team was walking their fans that have come to pack around with the fans, dancing, Colonial Life Arena all season. laughing and taking pictures “It was awesome. Our fans with the Gamecock faithful have been right there with us all that showed up to celebrate the season long. I think it’s fitting to team’s number one seed in the be amongst the fans when they NCAA Tournament. announced where we would The one seed is the second be,” South Carolina head coach straight for the program and Dawn Staley said. “You get reStaley said that without the fans, ally excited when you see your they would not be the national All Gamecock name on the screen.” basketball coverage powerhouse that they have beThe event was hosted by the come. sponsored by team and featured activities for “We’re always searching for Yesterdays
Photo by Allen Sharpe
ways to include our fans. The more that we get to interact with them and they get to interact with us, I hope they feel appreciated by the support they’ve given us,” Staley said. “I think
it’s great. Our players wanted them to participate and wanted them to feel a part of what we’ve been building here because they are very much a part of what we’ve built here.”
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4 • Spurs & Feathers
March 25, 2015
Superstition and baseball go hand-in-hand by Brian hand Executive Editor
Superstition is commonplace in sports. The greatest basketball player of all-time in Michael Jordan always wore blue North Carolina basketball shorts under his Chicago Bulls uniform. Personally, in my soccer playing days, I always had my superstitions before hitting the pitch. I had to listen to a certain song, do the same thing the night before a game and eat the same thing to get ready among many other things. No idea if these things ever really helped me play the game, but why risk it? No sport is probably more superstitious than baseball though. Think about it. When someone is throwing a no-hitter, nobody is allowed to talk about it or even move out of the spot where they are sitting. You don’t want to be the one that broke up the no-hitter. This is all ridiculous of course (or is it?), but once again, why take the chance? When I was the Assistant Athletics Director at USC Aiken during my first year there the baseball team was not really playing well in the 2009 season. Well, up to the standards of the historic program as they were just 19-14 on March 29, 2009. The next day we tried two completely out of the box things to help the cause. One, we had an intern go get McFlurry’s from McDonald’s for everybody in the press box and then we took the incredibly weird step of playing Toto’s immortal (and not at all a pump-up song) “Africa” if the team was leading heading into the ninth inning. Amazingly it worked. The Pacers won 14 straight and 19 of their next 20 to eventually win the Peach Belt Conference regularseason championship and go on to host the 2009 NCAA Division II Southeast Regional. It was an incredible ride that I will never forget, but obviously we all had to go on diets due to the numerous McFlurry’s (never been happier for a winning streak to end by the way) over a 14-game winning streak. Nevertheless, the tradition of playing “Africa” continued for many years after that. This year’s South Carolina baseball team admitted after winning its 10th straight game in the sweep of Kentucky that they are dipping into whatever it takes to win games this year. South Carolina baseball head coach Chad Holbrook had even stopped shaving to help the cause. “One of my players told me today that I look like I’ve been on a bender. I said, ‘y’all drive me to that mess,’” Holbrook joked after South Carolina’s three-game sweep of Kentucky. “If I shaved my players would be
Photo by Jenny Dilworth
mad at me … I feel like I’m unprofessional, another way to help the Gamecocks get but at the same time, we try to have fun. I back in the win column. want the players to have fun when they play “It’s time to start another one (winning and when things are going good, we’re going to keep doing the same things that we’ve been doing.” Holbrook’s wife, Jennifer, was not a big fan of the bearded look, but just like her husband she was willing to do whatever to help keep the Gamecocks winning. “Not a big fan of it, but if it means we continue to win, @cholbrook2 can let the darn thing grow until he can step on it!,” Jennifer Holbrook tweeted to @SpursFeathers after South Carolina’s 10th straight victory. The winning streak would not continue though with the Gamecocks dropping their next game to Winthrop and the next day after the loss to the Eagles, Holbrook had shaved and conceded “I’m smooth as a baby’s behind.” Just as superstitious as any baseball man, Holbrook is ready to hopefully get behind
All Gamecock baseball coverage sponsored by DiPrato’s
streak) if we can. I’m not done with the superstitions, but I’m done with that one (noshave bearded look),” Holbrook said.
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March 25, 2015
South Carolina kicks off spring practice by Kyle Heck Reporter South Carolina broke in its new practice fields on Tuesday, March 17, with around a two and a half hour practice that was the start of 2015 spring ball. With the new start comes a lot of new faces. This year’s bunch of Gamecocks will be one of the youngest in recent memory. Some of the big questions entering spring practice involve who will emerge as the leader out of the cluster of quarterbacks and how much the defensive line has improved. South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier was happy with what he saw after the first day of practice. “We’ve got a lot of new players as we all know and they showed a lot of hustle and effort,” Spurrier said. “It was a pretty good day.” The Gamecocks are coming off of a season where they finished 7-6, but won three out of their final four games, including their fourth consecutive bowl victory. That left a good taste in everyone’s mouth and Spurrier compared it to how the men’s basketball team finished this season as they also closed out their season strongly. “Give those guys credit, we didn’t toss in the towel,” Spurrier said. “We hung in there.” Players and coaches said there was a different sense of urgency on the field Tuesday as South Carolina wants to get back to winning 11 games (or more) a year. “Everyone has to be running and you can’t have any loafs,” said linebacker Skai Moore of what’s expected in practice. “It’s high intensity.” Spurrier explained the mood change on the fact that the Gamecocks know they aren’t going to get anything handed to them this year. After winning 33 games in three seasons, some players relaxed going into last season. “There’s not a sense of, ‘we’re pretty
Photo by Juan Blas
good’, let’s put it like that,” Spurrier said. “Sometimes after you go 11-2 three years in a row, some people are maybe naturally saying that, ‘well, we’re going to keep on winning.’ But it didn’t quite happen that way.” Connor Mitch, Perry Orth, Michael Scarnecchia and Brendan Nosovitch are the four quarterbacks currently battling it out. Mitch is listed at the top of the depth chart, but a lot can change over the next six months. South Carolina will also get highly-touted Lorenzo Nunez in the summer, who will immediately join the quarterback battle. As for the ones who are currently on campus, Spurrier praised the way they responded in the first practice of the year. “The attitude has been excellent,” Spurrier said. “These young quarterbacks, they want to play. Connor Mitch has tremendously improved since he got here. He seems to have a little bit more confidence and knows what to do know and I think he’s ready to take some giant steps. Perry Orth throws a beautiful pass and Scarnecchia knows what to do as well. We had Nosovitch back at quarterback today and we know he is good at running the ball and he actually threw the ball a lot better today.”
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March 25, 2015
Quarterback competition in full swing by Collyn Taylor Reporter
The quarterback competition this spring is still in full swing, but redshirt sophomore Connor Mitch is one of the standouts after the first days of practice. After the first spring practice, head coach Steve Spurrier had high praise for Mitch saying that he really stood out. This comes after the offseason where the Head Ball Coach hinted at Mitch not having the starting spot locked down, saying he wouldn’t see him in the weight room when other players were there. Mitch said it’s just coach being coach and that, “I was definitely somewhere else working.” The coaching staff said during bowl practice at the end of last season that the light started to come on for the redshirt sophomore. Mitch is listed as the starter on the depth chart and said that he’s learning to play quarterback in the SEC. “I worked hard this offseason; the whole team has,” Mitch said. “I’m coming along as a quarterback. A couple years into it, hopefully I think it would come.” Spurrier wasn’t the only one that spoke out about Mitch playing well to start the spring, quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus said the same thing. “I thought he came out, had his first practice Tuesday and threw the ball well. He looked confident, gave good poise. That’s what will give him confidence,” Mangus said. “Playing and being successful is what gives you confidence.” Mitch is the second oldest quarterback vying for the starting job at spring practice. Perry Orth is a redshirt junior and Michael Scarnecchia, the youngest, is a redshirt freshman. They are coming in as one of the older skill position groups on offense and have taken that seriously. Mitch said he and the rest of the quarterbacks have taken on the task of teaching the young receiving core the ropes. Six of the 11 receivers on the roster are freshmen or redshirt freshmen. Both Mitch and Mangus said those are the expectations for all the quarterbacks. “That’s our job as quarterbacks,” Mitch said. “We have a lot of young receivers right now learning the playbook, learning the routes. If they need help, we’ll definitely tell them what to do.” Mangus said the leadership roles aren’t new. He said that it started in January and February when they would meet up on weekends and late at night to help coach them. That’s something that comes with age and good mentoring. Mitch said that he’s been taking advice from former quarterbacks Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson on becoming a leader and better quarterback.
photo by allen sharpe
“They’ve definitely been more vocal,” Mangus said. “And they’re older now — they’re not as old as I wish — but they’ve been around. It’s amazing when the job’s open. It amazes me what it does to confidence levels of certain guys. Sometimes they embrace that and jump right in and act like it’s been there the whole time.”
Mangus said the competition has been high starting practice with the top spot on the depth chart wide open. It’s still too early to see who the favorite is, but the reps will slowly starting to shift from equal to the favorites getting more reps in practice. Mangus said that’s good having guys wanting to compete.
And as practice moves forward, the starter will slowly emerge. “You always want competition. They’re all getting reps right now,” Mangus said. “We’ll start giving some guys more reps sooner than later. Once we start getting in pads and getting some more scrimmage situations, that’s where you start finding out.”
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March 25, 2015
South Carolina’s Stahl named IMG Learfield General Manager of the Year by Brad Muller South Carolina Director of Content
this honor.” Not to be confused with the broadcasting and advertising arm for Gamecock Athletics, IMG South Carolina has had many honorees as Learfield Ticket Solutions provides a professional conference coaches or players of the year. The sales force to increase ticket sales and enhance Gamecocks have had a Heisman Trophy winner customer service. Stahl came to South Carolina in and MVPs at the College World Series. The folks July of 2013 and manages the Gamecocks ticket behind the scenes don’t always get such accosales team for all new business in football, men’s lades, even when it is deserved. That is changing basketball, women’s basketball and baseball. as South Carolina’s Dan Stahl has been named “One of the biggest thing he does is help us the IMG Learfield General Manager of the Year. greatly with customer service,” said Patrick “Dan has done a tremendous job leading our McFarland, Executive Director of the Gamecock South Carolina property,” said A.J. Arem, ReClub. “He improves communication by calling gional Manager-Southeast for IMG Learfield our new members and helps them purchase seaTicket Solutions. “He has built a great partnership son tickets. It’s a very big impact. He calls a lot of with administration that has resulted in several our non-renewing members and helps get them collaboratively successful revenue generating back on board by just speaking with them. He ideas. He’s surrounded himself with an excellent brings a lot of people back into the fold. He’s also sales team that are bought into our MVP best really innovative. Looking at some of our social sales practices. He’s a tireless worker that demedia sites and how to communicate with commands excellence and results from his staff. Most panies to show them some of the opportunities importantly, Dan exemplifies strong character, that we have here; he does a very good job with capacity and commitment, which can be seen in that too.” the relationships he’s established and initiatives he This is the second time he’s been recognized has helped to execute. He was very deserving of in his role after being honored as the 2013 IMG
Learfield Ticket Solutions Rookie of the Year Property. Stahl beat out 29 other general managers around the country for this year’s prestigious award. Criteria for the award includes the ability to excel in teaching, motivating and training sales staff as well as maximizing revenue generation by advancing sales timelines. “I think he acts in the best interest of our department without fail,” said Lance Grantham, Assistant Athletics Director for Ticket Operations. “He is an important part of our structure, providing service to our members and ticket buyers that
we have not been able to do before. To be successful, he has to sell and articulate our vision to potential customers and convince them to make a sometimes emotional and financial investment. He and his crew are great at this. He has basically created a group sales plan that is communicated effectively and proactively, resulting in thousands of tickets being sold, along with his and the IMGL Sales group’s main effort towards season tickets. The success we have had at the gate in women’s basketball, men’s basketball, and football would not have been accomplished without his group and their involvement.”
8 • Spurs & Feathers
March 25, 2015
No. 1 priority for Hoke this spring is to teach base defense by Brian Hand Executive Editor
we’re still teaching the game of football and at at levels that’s all you’re doing,” Hoke stated. Hoke says it has been a smooth transition For new South Carolina co-defensive coor- coming to South Carolina and rejoining the dinator Jon Hoke football is football. HBC. A former defensive coordinator for South “Everybody’s been great. I’ve been very forCarolina head football coach Steve Spurrier at tunate. Coach has put together a great staff, Florida, Hoke returns to the college sidelines we’ve got a lot of good players here, good this spring after spending the last 13 seasons people, so it’s been an easy transition,” Hoke in the NFL. said. Despite the return to the college ranks, Spurrier said that one of the reasons the Hoke did not feel all too different though transition has been so seamless for Hoke is after the first South Carolina spring football because he is a special type of person. practice. “He fits in everywhere he goes because he’s “Just coaching football. Just teaching the a good person. He’s been around a lot of regame of football. It’s exciting to see the new ally sharp coaches and I think he’s a sharp players and those types of things, but I’m alcoach. But he’s got a lot of work to do, he’ll ways excited to teach the game of football … tell you that. We all have a lot of work to do,”
Photo by juan blas
Spurrier said. After the first practice of the spring for the Gamecocks, Hoke articulated that he takes a very methodical approach. In fact, according to the HBC, Hoke only employed one coverage during the first day of spring ball. Hoke says that is all part of the plan. “It’s very much a step-by-step process,” Hoke mentioned. “We’re going to go one step at a time and we’ll be very detailed in our approach. We’re always going to favor technique over tactics and we’re not going to skip any steps. We’re going to go nice and slow.” Hoke believes that implementing some of his new schemes will not be as tough for the players to comprehend as just the overall verbiage and vocabulary of his system. “It’s always a transition, but it’s more vo-
cabulary than anything else … you try to keep as much of it as you can the same, but there is always going to be a learning curve,” Hoke relayed. The overarching thing Hoke wants the defense to accomplish during their spring practices is understanding the base defense they want to employ, which has the Gamecocks switching from a 4-2-5 base defense to more of a traditional 4-3. “The biggest thing (this spring) is just to teach the base defense. Try to get everything down, learn your assignment, learn your technique, learn the tempo we want to play with, learn how hard we want to play; those types of things. The kind of effort (we want), how to take the ball away … we want to set that foundation,” Hoke said.
Spurs & Feathers • 9
March 25, 2015
Wharton excited for great opportunity on Gamecock staff by Brian hand Executive Editor
And you see those guys, they practice hard. I was very impressed the way they practice and the way they go about their It’s not often that a program has the op- business,” Wharton stated. portunity to add an 11-year NFL veteran A product of Hillcrest High School in to their coaching staff. Simpsonville, S.C., Wharton was a part It’s especially rare when that individual of the Gamecocks’ resurgence as a projust happens to be one of your all-time gram under Lou Holtz from 2000-03. He greats. started 45 of 47 games as a Gamecock at That’s the situation the Gamecocks are left tackle. in right now though with South Carolina The former All-SEC standout knows offensive line great Travelle Wharton that his experiences as a Gamecock and joining Steve Spurrier’s staff as an offen- in the NFL make him a unique asset on sive quality control coach. the South Carolina coaching staff. Wharton is thrilled to be back with the “I’m trying to help as much as I can,” garnet and black. Wharton relayed. “Not just on the football “I’m very excited to be back in town and field, but as young men. If I can give any learn. It’s a great opportunity,” Wharton advice to how to help you as a young man, told the media after South Carolina’s I think that will be great. Those guys ask spring practice on Saturday, March 21. questions and I try to do what I can.” Wharton has only been with the GameThe Carolina Panther great retired in cocks for a short time since officially July of 2013 and has spent his time since being added to the staff on March 18, but ending his NFL career working in radio he likes what he has seen from the Game- and various other areas. He had not really cocks. expected to get into coaching, but when “They’re fiery and that’s the thing. the opportunity presented itself it was too They’re fiery. No matter what goes on the good to pass up. guys keep playing hard and if you’ve got “It just happened in a sense,” Wharton that going you can build a lot of things. mentioned. “It was an opportunity that
photo by brian hand
presented itself. I always thought about it and had a lot of friends in coaching and they always tell me you should consider it and when this opportunity came it’s
one that my wife and I sat down and we talked about it and it was like ‘let’s do it, let’s see what happens.’ It’s a great opportunity.”
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10 • Spurs & Feathers
March 25, 2015
Spurrier speaks with passionate Gamecocks in Greenwood by Brian Hand Executive Editor
Anytime Steve Spurrier visits the Upstate of South Carolina it’s a big deal. The evening of Wednesday, March 18, in Greenwood, S.C. was no different as Spurrier visited a large grouping of Gamecock fans at the American Legion Post 20 building. The Greenwood County Gamecock Club is one of the most passionate chapters of the Gamecock Club and they showed their support of Spurrier and all things Gamecock over the course of the evening. “It’s always good to have him here, especially with football season about to ramp up. The spring game is a huge thing in the SEC, especially at South Carolina,” Greenwood County Gamecock Club chapter vice president Ray Lewis II said. In addition to getting to hear the HBC speak, those in attendance on the evening also were treated to a barbecue buffet style dinner and much more. There was a silent auction and those in attendance also had the opportunity to talk with the Gamecock Club and even purchase season tickets. Hundreds were in attendance on the evening and the turnout was not only because of the solid support of the Gamecocks in the area, but also the continued hard work of the Greenwood County Gamecock Club. “We try to be as active as possible with the chapter,” Lewis said. “One thing that someone mentioned to me earlier is that every time they come to an event in Greenwood they see different faces. It’s just the growth of our chapter. Our Facebook page is big for us. We have over 1,000 people following it. Anytime that you can get Steve Spurrier or any of the coaches here (is big), but just having an event where we can talk about something people in this area love in Gamecock football and Gamecock sports in general is great.” The Greenwood County Gamecock Club event came exactly 168 days from South Carolina’s season opener against North Carolina in Charlotte and Spurrier took his time on the stage to discuss the past and future of Gamecock football. He even focused on Greenwood, S.C. native and new Gamecock Marquavius Lewis. “We’ve got help coming on defense and Marquavius Lewis is the No. 1 help of all
photo by brian hand
of them right now,” Spurrier relayed. Spurrier also thanked everyone in attendance for their commitment to the Gamecocks and made it be known that any suc-
cess South Carolina is able to have could not happen without their support. “Keep up the support. We appreciate it. Keep screaming and yelling and we’re try-
ing our best to do our part. We made a few changes, we got a new direction and we think it’s going to lead to a lot better results,” Spurrier noted.
March 25, 2015
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12 • Spurs & Feathers
March 25, 2015
South Carolina fans raise the bar for attendance at home events by Brad Muller South Carolina Director of Content
Williams-Brice Stadium. There are certain limitations as Williams-Brice Stadium ranks 8th in the SEC in maximum capacBetter than UCONN. Better than Tenity. Meanwhile, South Carolina volleyball nessee. South Carolina fans did better than ranked 34th nationally with 1,239 fans per anyone in filling up seats at the Colonial home match, which also ranked fifth in the Life Arena for women’s basketball home SEC. games this season. The Gamecock men’s The momentum has carried over to the basketball team also enjoyed a significant spring sports, which are also enjoying inbump in home attendance, ranking fourth creases in season ticket sales. South Caroin the SEC and outdrew successful prolina baseball season ticket sales increased grams across the nation such as Florida, to 6,075 this year and the Gamecocks are Cincinnati, and West Virginia. It’s now a averaging 7,156 fans for its home games common thread for Gamecocks athletics. so far in 2015. Carolina Softball Stadium “Our fans love to support our team and at Beckham Field has a seating capacity of our program,” South Carolina women’s 1,305, and 922 season tickets were sold for head coach Dawn Staley said. “That’s solid, and we’re not going to price our fans out. From where I sit today, I know we are the 2015 season. Near the midpoint of the the kind of experience you want to give out. It’s a family atmosphere. I can see the a lot closer than people realize to being an 2015 season, South Carolina has averaged student-athletes. It raises the level of play interactions that our young women have NCAA Tournament team.” 1,156 tickets sold per home game. out there on the court. When you create a with the children and the fans. They under“I don’t think the increase was a surprise,” “Sometimes when you have great attenproduct that people can be proud of, they’re stand what that engagement means.” added Kamryn Hollar, Assistant Director of dance or you sell a lot of tickets, it doesn’t going to come out and support that team.” It takes talent to win games, but having Ticket Operations. “Each year we set a goal necessarily create a home court or home South Carolina led the nation in attena large crowd behind you doesn’t hurt. to increase the number of season tickets and field advantage, but in our case, I think it dance at home women’s basketball games Staley’s team has gone undefeated at home this year we were successful in doing that. does.” Tanner said. “It’s not just people in for the 2014-15 season with an average of in each of the last two seasons and is curWe have a great marketing department that the seats. It’s the passion and the enthusi12,540 fans per game for the 14 contests rently riding the nation’s second longest is constantly attracting new and different asm that they bring. Going back to when I played in the Colonial Life Arena. That winning streak in women’s basketball with segments of the population to our events was in the dugout, there were a number of number jumped to 14,516 per game for the 32 straight on its home court. through promotions in the community.” games where I would tell myself that I don’t eight SEC games played at home. South The Gamecock men’s basketball program While winning certainly helps, there are know if we’re as good as we need to be toCarolina sold more than 8,500 season under head coach Frank Martin not only still challenges in getting fans to begin day, but our fans aren’t going to let us lose. tickets for women’s basketball prior to the ranked fourth in the SEC, but also 33rd thinking about other sports during the They just instill that type of energy and start of the season, more than doubling the nationally, with 11,520 fans per home game height of football season. emotion into that game that puts the players amount from the previous year. this season. That’s nearly 1,500 more than “Being in the SEC, our fall is spent at in a different place, and it puts the opposi“I think it’s a compliment to coach Staley, last year. South Carolina averaged 12,405 Williams-Brice Stadium and that’s when tion in place where they realize it’s a monuher staff, and student-athletes that we’re in fans per home SEC event this year as well. basketball renewals are taking place,” Hol- mental task to beat us on our home field and the position we are today as far as the inter“What our fan base has seen is that we lar said. “That’s when we are also trying home court. There’s no question you can est in women’s basketball at the University have a coach in Frank Martin who is pasto hype up the start of the season so our create a home field or home court advantage of South Carolina,” Athletics Director Ray sionate about building a great program marketing department will do things like if your fans are like ours.” Tanner said. “I certainly believe that if you here,” Tanner said. “He, as well as Dawn, have the players sign autographs at Gamehave a great team, people will come see you has really worked hard at building a relacock Village in Gamecock Park or be part play. In our case it’s much more than that. tionship with our fans and students. Fans of a recognition on the football field, just so We do have a great team, but we have a pro- identify more with coaches and studentpeople can start thinking about the winter gram that is all about the community and athletes when they have built a connection sports. Single game sales are definitely afthe city of Columbia. Our fan base feels like with them outside of the in-game environfected by the team’s performance. It’s a cyOfficial Clothier of Coach Chad Holbrook it is part of the program. They have owner- ment. It has helped all of our programs, but clical process that happens; the teams win, ship, and I think it’s reciprocal. It’s great to you can see the immediate impact with our media ups their coverage, interest picks up see that.” men’s and women’s basketball programs.” and more tickets are sold.” Tennessee was the only other SEC womOut of 14 SEC schools, South Carolina This is becoming common among South en’s program to average more than 10,000 was one of six men’s programs to average Carolina athletics venues. per home game (10,913). Those figures are more than 10,000 fans per home game. Fans The women’s soccer team ranked second almost exactly twice as many fans as the are creating a home court advantage as nationally last fall with an average of 2,683 previous year when South Carolina averten of South Carolina’s 15 wins during the fans at the 12 home dates at Stone Stadium. aged 6,371 fans per home game, including regular season were on its home court and The men’s soccer program ranked sixth 7,745 per home SEC contest. attendance at men’s games has increased nationally and led Conference USA with an “This has been growing,” Tanner said. 31% over the last two years. average of 2,602 fans for its 11 home games Exclusively at “This is not a one-hit wonder. This is an “I think our fans appreciate the 110 perin the fall. investment that coach Staley and her team cent effort that coach Martin’s teams give,” Gamecock football ranked 16th nationhave made to get us to the point we are toTanner said. “They watch players who com- ally and eighth in the SEC with 81,381 fans 2818 Devine Street • Columbia (803) 771-2700 day. I think it will continue. Our fan base is peted extremely hard, night in and night per game in the seven contests played at Phone Orders Welcome AS14-1288286
Seventh Inning Stretch
Spurs & Feathers â€˘ 13
March 25, 2015
South Carolina Pre-Spring Depth Chart 1 Deebo Samuel 14 Shaq Davidson 23 Christian Owens 11 Pharoh Cooper 29 Matrick Belton 9 Jerad Washington 87 Sean Odom 8 Shamier Jeffery 83 Carlton Heard Terry Googer 74 Mason Zandi 76 Mike Matulis 51 Cody Waldrop 65 Brock Stadnik 70 Alan Knott 72 Donell Stanley 63 Justin Smith 75 Will Sport 77 Malik Young 71 Brandon Shell 69 D.J. Park 89 Jerell Adams 86 Kevin Crosby 40 Jacob August 6 Connor Mitch 10 Perry Orth 12 Michael Scarnecchia 5 Brendan Nosovitch 43 Garrison Gist
6-0, 206, RFr. 5-11, 175, RFr. 6-5, 204, Fr. 5-11, 208, Jr. 6-4, 217, Jr. 5-8, 154, Fr. 6-0, 197, Jr. 6-1, 196, Sr. 6-0, 185, Sr. 6-4, 227, RFr. 6-9, 313, Jr. 6-5, 293, Sr. 6-2, 309, Jr. 6-5, 280, Jr. 6-4, 268, So. 6-4, 336, RFr. 6-1, 329, RFr. 6-5, 304, Sr. 6-3, 323, RFr. 6-6, 327, Sr. 6-4, 332, So. 6-6, 231, Sr. 6-1, 232, RFr. 6-6, 257, RFr. 6-3, 220, So. 6-1, 212, Jr. 6-4, 201, RFr. 6-1, 225, Jr. 5-10, 252, Sr.
Inman, S.C. Gaffney, S.C. Griffin, Ga. Havelock, N.C. Columbia, S.C. Jacksonville, Fla. Orangeburg, S.C. St. Matthews, S.C. Athens, Ga. Atlanta, Ga. Irmo, S.C. Boynton Beach, Fla. Seffner, Fla. Greensboro, N.C. Tyrone, Ga. Floydale, S.C. Lyman, S.C. Milton, Fla. Pelzer, S.C. Goose Creek, S.C. Dillon, S.C. Pinewood, S.C. Bamberg, S.C. Elgin, S.C. Raleigh, N.C. Ponte Vedra, Fla. Fleming Island, Fla. Allentown, Pa. Rock Hill, S.C.
45 Clayton Stadnik 22 Brandon Wilds 33 David Williams 7 Shon Carson 49 Devin Potter 30 Darius Paulk 32 Rod Talley
DE: DT: DT: DE: MLB: WLB: SPUR:
44 Gerald Dixon 48 Dexter Wideman 18 Cedrick Cooper 51 Devin Washington 92 Gerald Dixon Jr. 90 Taylor Stallworth 94 Kelsey Griffin 52 Phillip Dukes 99 Abu Lamin 8 Marquavius Lewis 55 David Johnson 5 Darius English 10 Skai Moore 11 T.J. Holloman 13 Jalen Henry 28 Jonathan Walton 4 B. Allen-Williams 12 Ernest Hawkins 9 Sherrod Pittman 42 Jordan Diggs
6-3, 234, Jr. 6-2, 224, Sr. 6-1, 216, So. 5-8, 201, Sr. 5-10, 205, Jr. 5-8, 198, Jr. 5-10, 210, So.
Greensboro, N.C. Blythewood, S.C. Philadelphia, Pa. Scranton, S.C. Granite Falls, N.C. Columbia, S.C. Laurens, S.C.
DEFENSE 6-2, 276, Jr. 6-4, 302, Fr. 6-2, 231, Sr. 6-3, 230, So. 6-3, 325, Sr. 6-2, 315, So. 6-2, 311, Jr. 6-3, 324, Sr. 6-4, 331, Jr. 6-3, 266, Jr. 6-1, 274, So. 6-6, 238, Jr. 6-2, 218, Jr. 6-2, 233, Jr. 5-10, 219, Fr. 6-0, 241, Jr. 6-1, 248, So. 6-1, 225, So. 6-0, 220, Fr. 6-0, 210, Jr.
Rock Hill, S.C. Saluda, S.C. Lithonia, Ga. Orlando, Fla. Rock Hill, S.C. Mobile, Ala. Buford, Ga. Manning, S.C. Fayetteville, N.C. Greenwood, S.C. Lithonia, Ga. Powder Springs, Ga. Cooper City, Fla. Stone Mountain, Ga. Foley, Ala. Daphne, Ala. Ellenwood, Ga. Baltimore, Md. Jacksonville, Fla. Fort Myers, Fla.
CB: SS: FS: CB:
23 Larenz Bryant 46 Cedrick Malone 3 Chris Lammons 7 Wesley Green 39 Demetrius Smalls 35 Shannon James 20 T.J. Gurley 17 Chaz Elder 26 Jasper Sasser 43 Benji Russell 24 D.J. Smith 6 Chris Moody 22 Jamari Smith 14 Ali Groves 1 Rico McWilliams 31 Al Harris Jr. 25 Darin Smalls
KO: PK: P: KR: PR: LSN: H:
19 Landon Ard 29 Elliott Fry 9 Elliott Fry 19 Landon Ard 13 Sean Kelly 7 Shon Carson 11 Pharoh Cooper 47 Drew Williams 48 Nick McGriff 13 Sean Kelly 19 Landon Ard
6-0, 226, Jr. 6-0, 206, Jr. 5-10, 185, So. 5-10, 175, RFr. 5-11, 172, RSo. 5-7, 160, Jr. 5-10, 199, Sr. 6-2, 201, Jr. 6-0, 207, So. 6-0, 190, So. 5-11, 194, So. 6-1, 212, Jr. 5-10, 204, So. 5-10, 185, So. 5-11, 188, Jr. 5-11, 172, So. 5-11, 181, Fr.
5-9, 186, Sr. 6-0, 158, Jr. 6-0, 158, Jr. 5-9, 186, Sr. 5-10, 201, Jr. 5-8, 201, Sr. 5-11, 208, Jr. 6-2, 204, Jr. 6-0, 224, RFr. 5-10, 201, Jr. 5-9, 186, Sr.
Charlotte, N.C. Camden, S.C. Sunrise, Fla. Lithonia, Ga. Bluffton, S.C. Florence, S.C. Cairo, Ga. Union City, Ga. Jacksonville, Fla. Atlanta, Ga. Marietta, Ga. McDonough, Ga. Jacksonville, Fla. Stone Mountain, Ga. Hampton, Ga. Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Summerville, S.C. Rock Hill, S.C. Frisco, Texas Frisco, Texas Rock Hill, S.C. Oakland, Fla. Scranton, S.C. Havelock, N.C. Irmo, S.C. Gainesville, Fla. Oakland, Fla. Rock Hill, S.C.
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14 • Spurs & Feathers
March 25, 2015
South Carolina Gamecocks
Recruiting Round-up By Phil Kornblut
Richland Northeast LB TJ Brunson attended USC’s first spring practice last Tuesday and left the campus feeling very strong about where things stand between him and the Gamecocks. “They moved up,” Brunson said. “They were already Phil Kornblut ahead but they lengthContributing ened their lead. I enWriter joyed my time. Every time I’ve been there I’ve left pleased.” Brunson said he got a good look at how USC conducts practice and he got the chance to visit with new co-defensive coordinator Jon Hoke. “He’s smart and gets to the point and knows what he’s talking about,” Brunson said. “I paid special attention to Skai Moore and Jonathan Walton. It’s not much different from how I’ve been brought up to play linebacker so far. Everyone was getting to the ball.” Brunson said he is close to a Gamecock commitment and planned to be at Thursday’s practice to talk with the coaches about that. Last season Brunson totaled 134 tackles with four sacks. Prior to attending Clemson’s recent junior day, OL John Simpson of Fort Dorchester had the Tigers and USC high up on his list with little difference between them. Now, there’s a big difference. Johnson said he now favors Clemson while the Gamecocks aren’t in his top three right now. LSU and Georgia fill out the spots behind Clemson. “Carolina is not out of the picture,” Simpson said. “I haven’t taken a visit there to look at the whole campus. Clemson is the only visit I’ve taken like that.” Simpson said he will visit USC again soon but he’s not sure when. He won’t attend the Gamecocks next junior day March 28th because he’s going to Mississippi State and Alabama that weekend. He will visit Georgia March 21st. Simpson said he’s not close on making a final decision and wants to take as many visits as he can before settling on a school. Highly sought after LB Tre Lamar of Roswell, GA visited Auburn recently, his latest stop at a school among his favorites. He has also been to Clemson and Alabama. Lamar has a trip to Florida coming up March 21st. He said he’s still hearing from USC “a little bit.” He has not made plans to attend USC’s
junior day March 28th. Lamar said he now has a top five of Clemson, Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama and Florida in no particular order. Auburn and Florida replace USC and Mississippi State in his previous top five. OL Parker Boudreaux of Orlando spent the weekend before last in South Carolina visiting Clemson and USC with his parents and two sisters. The emphasis of the trip was on Clemson for the junior day. On the way back to Orlando Sunday, Boudreaux stopped in Columbia for about two hours and met with USC offensive line coach Shawn Elliott who gave him a tour of the facilities. “It was pretty nice, I liked it,” Boudreaux said of his first ever glance at USC. I like Coach Elliott. And they are building a new condo for the players and a new indoor (practice facility) and all that stuff.” Boudreaux said USC is recruiting him hard but right now is not high up on his list. Upcoming visits for Boudreaux will include Florida, Ole Miss, Auburn, Alabama, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. DB Simeon Gatling (5-10 185) of Greensboro plans to attend USC’s junior day later this month with his cousin RB CJ Freeman. Gatling doesn’t have an offer from the Gamecocks yet, but he’s hoping of landing one soon, perhaps at the junior day March 28th. “I really like South Carolina,” he said. “I’ve been talking to Coach Elliott and Coach Sands a lot. “I’m going to visit and hopefully get an offer. South Carolina is a school I definitely want an offer from and it would be one of my top schools. I would have a chance for early playing time. Coach Elliott is saying there’s a decent chance for an offer.” Gatling visited LSU last month and likes the Tigers a lot. He’s going to Vanderbilt March 21st. Last season he went to games at Auburn, Tennessee, Georgia Southern, North Carolina, Duke, Virginia Tech and East Carolina. LSU and Navy are his two offers at this point with USC, Vanderbilt, NC State and North Carolina showing him interest. Gatling can also play safety. Last season he had 60 tackles and forced four fumbles. As a sophomore he had 40 tackles and 8 pass breakups. He considers himself to be a lockdown corner. OL Jack DeFoor of Calhoun, GA offers include Clemson, Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri, Michigan, Miami, Vanderbilt, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Ole Miss and Cincinnati. DeFoor visited USC this past weekend
and also plans to visit Ole Miss and Georgia. The Gamecocks have not offered but they did invite him to their junior day in late January which he couldn’t make. Right now DeFoor said at the top of his list are Clemson, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt with no leader. WR Austin Mack of Fort Wayne, IN plans to visit USC this spring. He was at Michigan last weekend. He also has offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame and several others. WR Kelvin Harmon of Palmyra, NJ plans to attend USC’s junior day later this month. USC had more contact last Thursday with former Kansas Jayhawk safety Isaiah Johnson (6-1 210). Johnson talked earlier in the week with Gamecock recruiter Joe Robinson after announcing his decision to play his senior season away from Lawrence. Johnson said he and Robinson were back on the phone with each other again Thursday. “We talked about me coming up for a visit some time soon,” Johnson said. “I’m real high on South Carolina. I really like South Carolina. My brother was recruited some by South Carolina. I didn’t know much about South Carolina while in high school but I knew about Steve Spurrier and some of the good players they had like Marcus Lattimore. And I’ve been there for games.” Johnson said USC, Louisville and Wake Forest are the three schools he’s heard from this week. Right now USC is the only one he’s certain of getting an official visit as long as the school will take him as a transfer. “I should be up there soon.” Johnson is free to talk to any school in the country except Rutgers, South Dakota and Memphis, because they are on Kansas’ schedule in 2015, as well as the other Big 12 schools. Johnson is a native of Cary, NC who signed with Western Carolina out of high school. After a year in Cullowhee he transferred to Iowa Western JC for a season. He was a starter the past two seasons at safety for Kansas and in 2013 was the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year. Last season he totaled 75 tackles with 1 interception and 2 passes broken up. Johnson decided to leave Kansas for personal reasons and will graduate May 17th. He plans to have a decision before then and will enroll this summer at his new school as a graduate student and will be eligible immediately. USC signee Cory Helms, who is transferring from Wake Forest, said his appeal for immediate eligibility is in process and in the
hands of USC compliance. Helms said he hopes to hear something before May because if the waiver is approved, he will enroll that month. If not, he will come in with the other recruits in June but will have to sit out the season. BASKETBALL NEWS:
USC basketball coach Frank Martin was in New Jersey last week for his first in person meeting with former Seton Hall point guard Jaren Sina. It likely won’t be the last time the two get together. “It was great,” Sina said. “It was a chance to sit down with him and hear about his program and learn about the school and how I would fit there. I thought we had a great conversation. I learned a lot about the university and his program. Hopefully I’ll get on campus. We’ll set up an official visit once they’ve finished (the season).” Sina mentioned Michigan, Boston College, Davidson and Rhode Island as some other schools of interest. He has not scheduled any official visits because all the schools he’s looking at are still playing. He did take an unofficial visit to Rhode Island last week Sina said he’s still too early in the process to formulate a favorites’ list. Another prospect expecting to meet with Martin soon is 6-6 shooting guard Malik Ellison of Burlington, NJ, the son of former Louisville star and #1 NBA Draft pick Pervis Ellison. ‘I’ve talked to Coach Martin and he’s coming up Monday to watch a workout,” Ellison said. “Coach Martin is cool. He seems like a nice dude. I’m talking to a bunch of coaches trying to figure things out. I’m pretty open, giving every school a chance. I’m taking my time and will have a decision in April.” Ellison has not yet scheduled official visits and will do that after he visits with more coaches. Ellison said right now he’s primarily interested in USC, Minnesota, Maryland, Wake Forest, Temple, Cal and Rutgers. He is not claiming a current favorite. This season Ellison averaged 20 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists per game. 6-9 junior Nysier Brooks of Life Academy in Burlington, NJ picked up an offer from USC. Brooks also has a reported offer from Fordham. Spring Valley’s PJ Dozier is the South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year. The South Carolina signee will play in the McDonald’s All-American game on April 1.
Spurs & Feathers • 15
March 25, 2015
Greenwood Gamecock Club continues preparing topiary for Festival of Flowers by Brian hand Executive Editor The Greenwood County Gamecock Club hosted South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier the evening of Wednesday, March 18, 2015. But before they had the chance to hear him talk about the Gamecocks they continued the long process of getting their South Carolina topiary ready for the South Carolina Festival of Flowers in Uptown Greenwood, S.C. The chapter’s work on the topiary was their second date of working with the Gamecock topiary in the last six months as they began the process on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014. The Greenwood County Gamecock Club pays for the upkeep and usage of the topiary throughout the year. The Festival of Flowers is not until June, but the process takes quite a while and for the first time the Greenwood County Gamecock Club wanted to be a part of the process from start-to-finish, which is why they started their efforts last November. The special topiaries for the Festival of Flowers are held in a greenhouse designed just for their upkeep and Ann Barklow is the horticultural crew chief for the city of Greenwood. In November of 2014, the Greenwood County Gamecock Club along with Gamecock Club Executive Director Patrick McFarland and Assistant Director of the Gamecock Club Jay Brown put in some solid work over the course of their three hours at the greenhouse as they stuffed the Gamecock topiary with special moss from New Zealand that is priced $75 per bale. According to Barklow the moss is perfect for the topiaries since it’s “a real clean moss that holds the moisture real well.” “We’re hoping that it (the moss) lasts seven years,” Barklow noted. “That’s what we hope for most of them. We’ll see how it turns out. We’re also going to be switching out the plants this year, which will be exciting. We’re not going to be using begonias that we’ve used for the past four or five years. We’re going to be using some red treads, which will be a good garnet color.” Greenwood County Gamecock Club Vice President Ray Lewis II noted that the second part of the process on Wednesday, March 18, “was actually taking the individual flower bulbs and placing them on the Gamecock and planting them, so that’s what we did. (It’s) very, very, very tedious work, but in three to four months it will be absolutely
Photo courtesy of Alison Burns
beautiful and we only have to do it every seven years.” Once again Brown and members of the Gamecock Club office came out to help the Greenwood County Gamecock Club with the second part of the process. Atlanta Gamecock Club Vice President Michelle Beagle also made the drive to help the cause and hear from the HBC later in the evening. The special Gamecock topiary that is part of the Festival of Flowers is unique in that Greenwood is as far as they now the only other place besides Disney that utilizes these particular types of topiaries. “Normally topiaries that people are familiar with have to do with shrubs,” Barklow commented. “They’re (the other styles of topiaries) are pruned in with certain shapes where this is wired in stuffed with moss, so it makes it rather unique.”
Lewis and the Greenwood County Gamecock Club chapter take a great deal of pride in the unique Gamecock topiary. “Across the board this is something that’s unique not only to Greenwood, but to South Carolina and the southeast in general and we’ve got the best looking topiary,” Lewis II said. “We recommend that people in June come out, come to our fan day and just enjoy the event. There’s live music, you get to take pictures of the topiary and we get to see our hard work pay off. It’s a group effort, but that’s everything Gamecocks. Everyone comes together and works together to accomplish something.” To learn more about the Greenwood County Gamecock Club, please like them on Facebook. You can learn more about the Festival of Flowers on their website at www. scfestivalofflowers.org.
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16 • Spurs & Feathers
March 25, 2015
South Carolina Spring Football Roster # Name Pos. 1 Deebo Samuel WR 1 Rico McWilliams CB 3 Chris Lammons CB 4 BrysonAllen-Williams LB 5 Darius English DE 5 Brendan Nosovitch QB 6 Connor Mitch QB 6 Chris Moody FS 7 Wesley Green CB 7 Shon Carson TB 8 Shamier Jeffery WR 8 Marquavius Lewis DE 9 Jerad Washington WR 9 Sherrod Pittman LB 10 Perry Orth QB 10 Skai Moore LB 11 T.J. Holloman LB 11 Pharoh Cooper WR 12 Michael Scarnecchia QB 12 Ernest Hawkins LB 13 Sean Kelly P 13 Jalen Henry LB 14 Shaq Davidson WR 14 Ali Groves FS 17 Chaz Elder SS 18 Cedrick Cooper DE 19 Terry Googer WR 19 Landon Ard PK 20 T.J. Gurley SS 22 Brandon Wilds TB 22 Jamari Smith FS 23 Christian Owens WR 23 Larenz Bryant SPR 24 D.J. Smith FS 25 Darin Smalls CB 26 Jasper Sasser SS 28 Jonathan Walton LB 29 Matrick Belton WR 29 Elliott Fry PK 30 DariusPaulk TB 31 Al Harris Jr. CB 32 Rod Talley TB
Hgt. 6-0 5-11 5-10 6-1 6-6 6-1 6-3 6-1 5-10 5-8 6-1 6-3 5-8 6-0 6-1 6-2 6-2 5-11 6-4 6-1 5-10 5-10 5-11 5-10 6-2 6-2 6-4 5-9 5-10 6-2 5-10 6-5 6-0 5-11 5-10 6-0 6-0 6-4 6-0 5-8 5-11 5-10
Wgt. 206 188 185 248 238 225 220 212 175 201 196 266 154 220 212 218 233 208 201 225 201 219 175 185 201 231 227 186 199 224 204 204 226 194 181 207 241 217 158 198 172 210
Cl. RS FR RS JR SO SO RS JR RS JR RS SO RS JR RS FR RS SR RS SR RS JR FR FR RS JR JR RS JR JR RS FR SO RS JR FR RS FR RS SO RS JR RS SR RS FR RS SR SR RS SR RS SO FR JR SO FR RS SO JR RS JR JR RSJR SO RS SO
Hometown/High School/Last College Inman, S.C./Chapman Hampton, Ga./Lovejoy Sunrise, Fla./Plantation Ellenwood, Ga./Ceder Grove Powder Springs, Ga./McEachern Allentown, Pa./Central Catholic Raleigh, N.C./Wakefield McDonough, Ga./Henry County Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King Scranton, S.C./Lake City St. Matthews, S.C./Calhoun County Greenwood, S.C./Greenwood/Hutchinson CC Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast Ponde Verda, Fla./Ponte Verda/Florida State College Cooper City, Fla./University Stone Mountain, Ga./St. Pius X Havelock, NC./Havelock Fleming Island, Fla./Fleming Island Baltimore, Md./Dunbar/Hartnell College Oakland, Fla./West Orange/FAU/Tallahassee JC Foley, Ala./Foley Gaffney, S.C./Gaffney Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson Union City, Ga./Banneker Lithonia, Ga./Lithonia Atlanta, Ga./Woodward Academy Rock Hill, S.C./South Pointe Cairo, Ga./Cairo Blythewood, S.C./Blythewood Jacksonville, Fla./Fletcher Griffin, Ga./Griffin Charlotte, NC./Vance Marietta, Ga./Walton Summerville, S.C./Summerville Jacksonville, Fla./Wolfson Daphne, Ala./Bayside Academy Columbia, S.C./Keenan/Hampton Frisco, Texas/Prince of Peace Christian Columbia,S.C./RichlandNortheast/NorthGreenville Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas Laurens, S.C./Laurens/Gardner-Webb
Coaches Steve Spurrier - Head Coach Deke Adams - Defensive Line Kirk Botkin - Linebackers/Spurs Shawn Elliott - Co-Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Jon Hoke - Co-Defensive Coordinator G.A. Mangus - Quarterbacks/Tight Ends Joe Robinson - Special Teams Coordinator Everette Sands - Running Backs Steve Spurrier Jr. - Co-Offensive Coord/Wide Receivers/ Recruiting Coordinator Lorenzo Ward - Co-Defensive Coordinator Jamie Speronis - Associate AD/Football Operations Joey Blake - Director of Football Nutrition Joe Connolly - Director-Football Strength & Conditioning Robbie Liles - Director - Recruiting Operations Patrick Shine - Administrative Coordinator - Recruiting Grady Brown - Quality Control Coordinator (Defense) Scott Spurrier - Quality Control Coordinator (Offense) Travelle Wharton - Quality Control Coordinator (Offense) Brian Turk - Quality Control Coordinator (Offense) Shaq Wilson - Quality Control Coordinator (Defense)
# Name Pos. 33 David Williams TB 34 Scott Grant SS 35 Shannon James CB 39 Demetrius Smalls CB 39 Rivers Bedenbaugh FB 40 Jacob August TE 42 Jordan Diggs SPR 43 Benji Russell SS 43 Garrison Gist FB 44 Gerald Dixon DE 45 Clayton Stadnik FB 46 Cedrick Malone SPR 46 Jakob Huechtker LS 47 Drew Williams LS 48 Dexter Wideman DE 48 Nick McGriff LS 49 Devin Potter TB 49 Reubyn Walker LB 51 Cody Waldrop OG 51 Devin Washington DE 52 Phillip Dukes DT 55 David Johnson DE 63 Justin Smith OC 65 Brock Stadnik OG 69 D.J. Park OT 70 Alan Knott OC 71 Brandon Shell OT 72 Donell Stanley OC 74 Mason Zandi OT 75 Will Sport OG 76 Mike Matulis OT 77 Malik Young OL 83 Carlton Heard WR 84 Rondreas Truesdale WR 86 Kevin Crosby TE 87 Sean Odom WR 89 Jerell Adams TE 90 Taylor Stallworth DT 92 Gerald Dixon, Jr. DT 94 Kelsey Griffin DT 99 Abu Lamin DT
Hgt. 6-1 6-0 5-7 5-11 6-2 6-6 6-0 6-0 5-10 6-2 6-3 6-0 5-8 6-2 6-4 6-0 5-10 6-2 6-2 6-3 6-3 6-1 6-1 6-5 6-4 6-4 6-6 6-4 6-9 6-5 6-5 6-3 6-0 5-11 6-1 6-0 6-6 6-2 6-3 6-2 6-4
Wgt. 216 200 160 172 247 257 210 190 252 276 234 206 190 204 302 224 205 230 309 230 324 274 329 280 332 268 327 336 313 304 293 323 185 180 232 197 231 315 325 311 331
Cl. RS SO RS FR RS JR RS SO RS SO RS FR RS JR RS SO RS SR RS JR RS JR RS JR RS SO JR FR RS FR RS JR RS JR RS JR RS SO RS SR RS SO RS FR RS JR RS SO RS SO RS SR RS FR RS JR RS SR RS SR RS FR RS SR RS JR RS FR JR SR SO RS SR JR RS JR
Hometown/High School/Last College Philadelphia, Pa./Imhotep Charter Laurens, S.C./Laurens Florence, S.C./South Florence Bluffton, S.C./Bluffton Leesville, S.C./Lexington/Georgia Southern Columbia, S.C./Cardinal Newman/Fork Union Fort Myers, Fla./Island Coast Atlanta, Ga./Woodward Academy Rock Hill, S.C./Northwesterm Rock Hill, S.C./South Pointe Greensboro, N.C./Western Guilford Camden, S.C./Camden/Coastal Carolina Rock Hill, S.C./South Pointe Irmo, S.C/Dutch Fork Saluda, S.C./Saluda/Camden Military Gainesville, Fla./Gainesville Granite Falls, N.C./South Caldwell York, S.C./Northwestern/Florida A&M Seffner, Fla./Armwood Orlando, Fla./Jones Manning, S.C./Manning Lithonia, Ga./Lithonia Lyman, S.C./Byrnes Greensboro, N.C./Western Guilford Dillon, S.C./Dillon Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek Goose Creek, S.C./Goose Creek Floydale, S.C./Latta Irmo, S.C./Chapin Milton, Fla./Pace Boynton Beach, Fla./Park Vista Pelzer, S.C./Woodmont Athens, Ga./Clarke Central/Gardner-Webb Lancaster, S.C./Indian Land/Charleston Southern Bamberg, S.C./Bamberg-Ehrhardt Orangeburg, S.C./Orangeburg Prep Pinewood, S.C./Scott’s Branch Mobile, Ala./Murphy Rock Hill, S.C./Northwestern Buford, Ga./Mill Creek Fayetteville, N.C./Trinity Christian/Fort Scott C.C.
March 25, 2015
Spurs & Feathers • 17
Gamecocks need strong offensive line play in the upcoming season
Various websites and publications have listed players who they believe will be key to Carolina’s 2015 season, but for me the coach that truly needs the luck of the Irish is OL Coach Shawn Elliott. The conventional wisdom has always been that developing an offensive lineman is ideally a five-year proposition. There are exceptions of course, but generally a player redshirts his first year to get bigger and stronger, spends his redshirt freshman season on the scout squad, going up against the 1’s. As a redshirt sophomore year he is getting some snaps in mop-up duty or on special teams. If the progress has been steady, and depending on circumstances, like graduation or injuries, the hope is that he is starting or pushing for a starting job as a redshirt junior, and that as a senior he is a contender for at least all-conference honors. photo by brian hand First some perspective. Defensive linemen are the biggest, strongest, fastest and most illSnyder believes that offensive line coach Shawn Elliott (front center) will need strong play from his OL for the Gamecocks to be successful. tempered people who play the game, and to find five players who can work as a unit against is coming off knee surgery, but is the probable healthy, full speed, and possibly freshmen con- competitive schedule. that constant pounding is a challenge for every starter at left guard. He injured his knee against tingent of linemen to survive an always superIt’s a great time to be a Gamecock! Georgia in game two and played only a few program. And that’s where USC’s line could snaps the rest of the year. He also was a starter use some luck. There are three talented five-year players on as a redshirt freshman in ’13, but missed six the roster, but two are recovering from injuries games with an ankle injury. Waldrop is another and sitting out the spring and missing valuable player who has shown big-time ability when at reps. full speed. The most experienced of those is right tackle, The “youngster” in the starting lineup this and one of those exceptions is right tackle Bran- spring is redshirt sophomore center Alan Knott. don Shell. A redshirt freshman All-American After missing most of fall camp with a knee who started 10 games in 2012 and every game injury, he made eight starts in the middle last since. He’s out recovering from shoulder surseason. I know the coaches have been excited gery for a torn labrum. His play was up and about Knott since the day he arrived on camdown this past season, and he will need a good pus, and he has the tools to play above the threesummer and fall camp to become more consis- star rating he received from recruiting analysts. tent. The remaining members of the two-deep Mike Matulis would likely be the starter at are inexperienced and young. There are two left tackle, but “injury” has been his middle redshirt juniors. Mason Zandi is starting at left name his entire career. He too saw starting time tackle, while Matulis sits out. He certainly has as redshirt freshman, but since that time he the size, 6-9, 313, but his playing time has been has had surgery on both shoulders and a knee. a few snaps of mop-up and on extra point and When healthy, Matulis has field goal teams. shown he can play against the Brock Stadnik missed fall best. camp last season with a knee The third player in that fiveinjury, and saw limited action year group is Will Sport. Last in five games, mostly special season he was a starter at right teams. The other three are guard after the first two games redshirt sophomore tackle D.J. because of an injury to Cody Park (always projected as a Waldrop, who had moved over guard), and redshirt freshmen to replace Matulis. With 12 guard Malik Young and center starts over the last two seasons, Donell Stanley. Glenn Snyder Sport is poised to have a big I believe you get my drift Inside senior season. here. The Gamecocks need Waldrop, a redshirt junior Look to enter next season with a
18 • Spurs & Feathers
March 25, 2015
Langston Moore: Help is on the way
The mantra “help is on the way” has been echoed by so many directly and indirectly, seeping into the psyche of everyone in and around the program. It pacified us as we cry to excuse unmet expectations and feeling of general by the lost opportunities of last year. “13th place Langston Moore finish in the Contributing SEC defenWriter sively”, thats okay, help is on the way. “Gamecocks have 10 players from last year’s roster transfer” its gonna be alright, help is on the way. “Gamecocks shake up the coaching staff,” great somebody can come in and get these guys fired up! I heard some folks screaming some variation of “help is on the way” as those as far back as late october. But as usual, we all have to be careful in accepting the idea that something “outside” of us (or the program) is going to save the day. If nothing else, football has once again shown us that change is the only constant. And like most people, families, organizations and programs change is hard to deal with, even when we know its best for what we want. “No one is coming “ (c)Nathaniel Branden Players: Having the great distinction of playing on an NFL team and college team that won zero games in a season, I can tell you about drastic overhaul and “help coming.” The common theme for this is “change.” At carolina the big push after the 0-11 season was for “better recruits,” “more JUCO players,” “get an offensive mastermind in to redo the entire offense,” but these were not the the answers. It all started with every player having that “come to Jesus” moment in the offseason. As we all sat in the meeting room in late November awaiting the schedule for the offseason, we knew change would come and the stakes would be raised on all of us. Revamped schedule, new weight room, new staff and players added, all of that meant nothing until we made a commitment and decided to hold ourselves accountable. Most athletes on this level have everything they need to be successful, yet many still seem to spend their careers in search of external stimuli. They mistakenly think it’s the programs responsibility to coax their talent out of them and push them to the “next” levels. Fortunately they don’t ever have to depend on anyone else for motivation. The
Photo by Juan Blas
fundamental truth of life is simply that we are 100% responsible for the level of motivation we bring to any tasks. Understanding the basic idea “if I want to win and be the best I can be here” I have to commit every day to giving my best is the first step that every player needs to make, before we look for help. Once players realize that they are in the drivers seat, and can navigate their whole career by controlling their effort and attitude all of sudden the answers to our issues become a lot clearer. Once every player comes to this realization, then they can collectively come together like Voltron that you gamecock football team. Just like Voltron every part is vital to the machine and no man can slack in his preparation or readiness when called on to connect as a whole. Everyone depends on you to “be great” daily and in doing so the players create a invisible skillset of doing things “the right way” that lead to winning. “We spend our whole lives waiting for someone to make us do the thing we knew we could do” © Emerson Coaching changes Before the buzzer went off at Clemson, social media was on fire with perspective coach-
ing changes, firings, hirings, and all the usual buzz that follows the end of every season. The game was done, the coaching staff questions rolled in for the HBC. It seemed obvious that “change was coming” to our Gamecocks who finished so far back in the national standings defensively I refused to look them up for this article (don’t torture yourself by looking). But the “Tao of Spurrier” would not be swayed by outsiders. Much to the chagrin of many fans the HBC took the let’s wait and see approach and hinted at changes saying things like “If I need to add a guy or two to the staff, I’ll do it.” This wasn’t enough for most in the Gamecock Nation Coop. This decision was not popular with our recruits and our opposition used this as leverage to sway those young players that seemed to be wavering. “If it’s to be, it’s up to me” © Curtis Frye Eventually settling on a familiar face in Jon Hoke and retaining the rest of the staff from the previous year, regardless of the coach or the change in titles for other coaches, it’s all about those coaches going through the same realization as the players do. The coaches who are here now, for however long must continue to demand more of themselves to improve individually. Just like the player they must
add that to the staff as a whole, allowing this collective knowledge to flow down to the players. So when it’s all said and done it goes back to culture and a standard. A new coach or new trough of five star players won’t be the difference in our program. Yeah we might see some flashes here or there, but it’s about those players becoming “Gamecocks” and doing it the right way we call the “Garnet Way.” We all know the history of the lean years in Columbia, so theres no need to go revisit those years like trauma victims. We have set a standard and it doesn’t matter who walks in Williams -Brice next year, they must rise up and reach the new bar that has been set. So regardless of how many stars, preseason awards, career wins, or any other accolade players and coaches must remember that no one, I repeat no one is bigger than this great institution. Who ever has the honor of wearing that Garnet and Black in front of the nation’s greatest fans must remember that no one is coming to save them, but well over 80,000 of us will be supporting... **Former Gamecock Preston Thorne contributed to this article**
Spurs & Feathers • 19
March 25, 2015
Gamecocks can take a lot of positives, confidence from Tennessee series win by Kyle Heck Reporter
getting those two games proves to them that.” Named SEC Pitcher of the Week a South Carolina didn’t get the sweep it couple days later, Gamecock sophomore wanted on Sunday, March 15, against pitcher Nickie Blue was the star of the No. 9 Tennessee, but the Gamecocks still weekend. came away from the weekend series with Blue picked up both of the wins and a lot more confidence than before it began. frustrated the Vols all weekend. Blue apThe Vols used a flurry of runs in the first peared in all three games, going 2-0 and two innings to go on to defeat South Caro- allowing just one run and 11 hits in 14.1 lina in the finale. However, the weekend innings pitched while also striking out 14 was all about the Gamecocks. batters. Coming into the series, South Carolina Blue feels that by taking the series had lost 28 games in a row to Tennesagainst ninth-ranked Tennessee, the see, having not won a game since 2003. Gamecocks are putting themselves in poHowever, the Gamecocks mercy-ruled the sition to be among the best in the SEC and Vols, 8-0, in six innings on Friday, March the nation. 13, before gutting out a 7-6 nine-inning “I think it just shows that we really just win on Saturday, March 14, to clinch the go out there every day and just play the series. game,” Blue said of beating the Vols for “It’s huge,” South Carolina head coach the first time in 12 years. “We don’t worry Beverly Smith said of the series win over about their reputations or anything, we Tennessee. “I want our girls to feel like just go out there, take what we’re given that we’ve arrived and we belong. I think and play softball.”
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20 • Spurs & Feathers
March 25, 2015
Less stress, more patience needed for spring
Spring is a time of growing and just like the flowers and grass that blossom during the months of March and April, so do the stars of the next South Carolina football team. The 2015 Spring Practice session for Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks promises to be one of the more intriguing in recent memory and given the right mindset of the fan base, it can be one of the more enjoyable. From March 17 to April 11, players will be given a chance to show what they can do as the Gamecocks look to re-group from a season loaded with disappointment. Guys that typically take these 15 practices to better themselves and understand the system can produce significant results in the upcoming season. Too often, fans can get enamored with the results of the actual spring game when one player creates a highlight day leading to visions of a Heisman candidacy dancing in the brain (remember Taqiy Muhammad?). Truth is, the actual performance and statistics during the spring mean very little when it comes to fall camp and the 2015 regular-season. While spring practices help ring in warmer weather and signal that the actual season is just a few beach trips away. South Carolina fans need to be very careful about judging their team based on this spring’s performances. There are a few players this spring that many will keep a close on with anticipation of becoming the next big thing. Should that player not produce excellent numbers each scrimmage a feeling of dread will creep in for not only the player but also the 2015 season. People should remember, this Gamecock edition is a team in transition from important returners to newcomers just scratching the such as: Does he display the leadership surface with their potential. It is likely the qualities of a top flight SEC quarterback? final result of this transition will not start Does he know the playbook and put other shining through until three or four games players in position to succeed? And how into the season. does he handle coaching from Steve SpurThe quarterback position is a prime exam- rier and G.A. Mangus? These are questions ple of this warning. Rising redshirt sophomuch more important than what his complemore Connor Mitch’s time to lead the team tion percentage is on April 11th. has arrived. Fans will certainly pay attention Trying to protect Mitch during the spring to every stat line that is published and every will be Palmetto State native Mason Zandi expert opinion given followfrom Chapin High School. ing scrimmages. The 6-foot-8 offensive tackle The truth for Mitch though, is in a similar situation as his is that he will operate behind new signal caller. an offensive line missing at Zandi will see snaps with least two starters recovering the offensive line first team from injury and a group of and for the first time in his wide receivers learning the career will be looked at to ropes. actually make a quality conFar more important for tribution. Mitch will be developing However the rising redshirt Bill Gunter himself as the unchallenged junior may perform, fans Contributing starting quarterback of the should remember that there Writer program with other issues are going to be bumps in the
photo by brian hand
road that can be corrected with the proper work following spring practice by watching film and summer workouts. All eyes will be on new co-defensive coordinator Jon Hoke following the Gamecocks poor performances in 2014. During practices, scrimmages or the spring game, when a quarterback completes a pass to open receiver or a defensive player misses a tackle, there are sure to be groans from the crowd. “Nothing has changed,” will be the mantra for the fan expecting results from Hoke and his schemes right off the bat. Again, the truth is that this spring, more than anyone in recent memory is about the Gamecocks relearning to play the game and win. What are we going to learn from the Gamecocks spring practice over the next few weeks? Likely nothing if you want my honest opinion. For the first time in a while, Steve Spurrier’s ball club has big questions entering spring practice. Players must prove themselves and then carry over their effort and momentum into
the summer workout months followed by fall camp. The Gamecocks are a team in transition, looking for not just playmakers on the field but leadership in the locker room and the next month will be vital to how the team responds in the fall. The answers to many of these insomnia-inducing questions are unlikely to be answered with just 15 practices and even then I do not think we will have a good idea of what this football team is capable of until after the September 12th game against Kentucky With that in mind, sit back and relax. Try not to read too much into every little nuance from this year’s spring practice as you may find yourself worrying too much about the upcoming season. Instead enjoy the fact that the grass is turning greener, the flowers are starting to bloom and the Gamecocks have taken back to the practice field. That can only mean that the 2015 football season is just a few months away.
Spurs & Feathers • 21
March 25, 2015
photo by brian hand
SEC champ Gamecocks return to hundreds of adoring fans until she and the top-seeded Gamecocks returned home from their 62-46 championship game win over second-seeded The South Carolina women’s basketball Tennessee that South Carolina’s first-ever program under the watchful eye of Dawn SEC Tournament title had not really sunk Staley has been building towards Sunday, in yet to her. March 8, 2015, for many years. “I was numb,” Staley mused. “I was That is why Staley wanted numb until actually we got to take in the moment when back here and we saw all the the back-to-back SEC regularfans, how they were cheering season champion and 2015 and they make you get into SEC Tournament champion the spirit of winning and it Gamecocks returned to a makes it more real … it’s just crowd of hundreds at Eagle wonderful.” Aviation in Columbia, S.C. As for finally collecting that just a few short hours after elusive SEC Tournament title, cutting down the nets at VeStaley was not shy about adAll Gamecock rizon Arena in North Little basketball coverage mitting it felt great. Rock, Ark. “Truly, it felt great,” Staley sponsored by In fact, Staley conceded that said. “I felt happy for everyYesterdays
body that’s been through our program. The ones that started seven years ago to the current players because they all have been a part of building, getting us to that point … the current players get the benefit of it now, but the former players seven years ago, they laid the foundation of how we want to play.” Like Staley, senior forward and 2015 SEC Tournament MVP Aleighsa Welch, was overwhelmed with the number of people at Eagle Aviation waiting to congratulate them on making history. “It means a lot,” Welch commented to the media with chants of MVP coming from Gamecock fans all around her. “We were not really expecting it and getting off the plane and seeing all the fans it just shows we really do have the best fans in the nation.”
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22 • Spurs & Feathers
March 25, 2015
What matters more in March: your record or your résumé? That’s the annual ink-blot test facing the NCAA as it decides on its at-large teams for the NCAA and National Invitation Tournaments. On the surface, it would be easy to look at South Carolina’s 1716 record and 11th-place finish in the SEC, and categorically say the Gamecocks didn’t belong in the postseason. But then you start to separate the résumé from the record. Before long, it beAndy Demetra comes clear that Contributing South Carolina Writer had a case for the postseason – and not just a cursory one, but a compelling one. Looking at the numbers, the Gamecocks may have deserved an NIT berth. It may augment your frustration that the Gamecocks were shut out of the postseason. It may cause you to utter that dirtiest of four-letter words in March: snub. But it should also underscore just how close the Gamecocks are to reaching the postseason under third-year head coach Frank Martin. Forget the NIT - the NCAA Tournament is much closer than you think. But back to Selection Sunday. Compare South Carolina’s record to Texas A&M and Vanderbilt, a pair of SEC teams that made the NIT field.
Texas A&M 20-11 Vanderbilt 19-13 South Carolina 17-16
11-7 (5th SEC) 9-9 (7th SEC) 6-12 (11th SEC)
On paper, it reads like a mismatch. The Gamecocks finished three and five games, respectively, behind the Aggies and Commodores in the SEC standings, and lost the headto-head matchups to both. But when viewed through the résumé-versusrecord lens, the debate takes an interesting turn. Start by looking at how many wins each team had versus RPI Top-50 opponents, a common barometer used by the NCAA and NIT selection committees.
Wins vs. RPI Top 5o
Texas A&M 0 Vanderbilt 0 South Carolina 4* *Georgia (twice), Iowa State, Oklahoma State
Now look at how many NCAA Tournament teams each school beat during the regular season. It’s a bit revisionist - nobody knows who makes the NCAA field until shortly before the NIT field is announced – but it gives another indication of a team’s body of work.
Wins vs. NCAA Tournament teams Texas A&M 2 Vanderbilt 1 South Carolina 6
In addition to Georgia, Iowa State and Oklahoma State, South Carolina knocked off Ole Miss and North Florida, the Atlantic Sun tournament champions. Before you dismiss the North Florida win, consider that UNF beat Purdue on the road; Vanderbilt’s lone win over an NCAA Tournament team came against Purdue at home. But wait a minute, the skeptics grumble. How could the NIT justify taking an 11thplace SEC team over a 5th-place team? The answer is simple: strength of schedule and unbalanced conference scheduling. Look at each team’s unofficial strength of schedule according to the website BBState:
Strength of Schedule South Carolina 33 Texas A&M 83 Vanderbilt 93
The SEC also has an unbalanced schedule, a byproduct of playing 18 games in a 14-team league. In 2014-15, Kentucky,
Arkansas and Georgia finished 1-2-3 in the SEC. Look at how many times each team faced those schools:
Number of Games vs. UK, UA, UGA Texas A&M 3 Vanderbilt 4 South Carolina 6
Texas A&M only faced Kentucky, Arkansas and Georgia once. Vanderbilt played Kentucky and Arkansas once. South Carolina was the only SEC school to play Kentucky, Arkansas and Georgia twice. Along with Florida, they were the only schools to play the bottom three teams in the league once (Mississippi State, Auburn and Missouri). By almost any measure, South Carolina had the most unforgiving draw in the SEC. That’s why conference standings shouldn’t be treated as sacred, especially when determining a team’s postseason worthiness. If Texas A&M played South Carolina’s league schedule, would the Aggies have finished 11-7? If Vanderbilt played Kentucky and Arkansas twice, would the Commodores have finished 9-9 or 7-11 in the SEC (with a weaker non-conference schedule to boot)? Which team truly had the more substantial body of work? This isn’t meant to discredit Texas A&M or Vanderbilt’s NIT bids, but rather to show that South Carolina had a more compelling case than meets the eye. Frank Martin summed it up, clinically and cruelly, in a tweet Monday: “Our #’s were better than others. However the bottom line is we didn’t win enough.” Indeed, the Gamecocks missed out on
several opportunities throughout the year to shore up their win total. They lost to Akron in the third-place game of the Charleston Classic, reinforcing the notion that November games matter (and deserve your attention). Late leads slipped away against Auburn and LSU. South Carolina couldn’t hang on to an 11-point lead over #18 Arkansas with six minutes remaining, a win that would’ve likely sealed an NIT bid. South Carolina missed the postseason not from of a lack of vision by the selection committee, but by losing games that were within its control. That may do little to temper your frustration over the Gamecocks’ omission. But it should also make you excited for the season ahead. South Carolina, playing with a shorthanded roster, against a top-35 strength of schedule and the toughest draw in the SEC, still finished with an above-.500 record. Imagine if the Gamecocks protected those second-half leads against Auburn, LSU, Vanderbilt, and Arkansas (none of which are outlandish to think). South Carolina would have finished 21-12, with an astonishing six wins over teams ranked in the RPI Top 50. The NCAA Tournament was much closer than you may have realized. This doesn’t appear to be a one-off run, either. The majority of Frank Martin’s nucleus returns for next season. A McDonald’s AllAmerican in Columbia’s P.J. Dozier joins the ranks, along with a pair of promising post players. If South Carolina’s postseason “slight” has you fired up, bottle it up and save that passion for next November. At this time next year, the Gamecocks could have the record, the résumé, and the NCAA Tournament bid to match. No debate required.
Spurs & Feathers • 23
March 25, 2015
Steve Gunter relished opportunity to serve as an honorary coach As part of his honorary coach position on the evening, Gunter went through everything the Gamecocks would go through on the day of the game with North Carolina Central. Gunter had the opportunity to go in the locker room with the team before, at halftime and after the game. He even had the chance to lead the Gamecocks in a cheer after the big win. During the game, he was with the team on the bench and just like the other coaches he received the stat sheets during each media time out and had an up close and personal chance to watch what the players and coaches were doing throughout the game. “It was an honor to be right there,” Gunter said. One of the things that struck Gunter the most throughout the whole experience was just how personable the Gamecocks were as a team. “By the time the game started, I knew all their nicknames,” Gunter said. “It was just unbelievable to feel so close to such a great program.” Gunter and the Lexington County Gamecock Club chapter are as busy as ever of late
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with their upcoming golf tournament on April 13 and lots of other surprises in the near future. Last year, the Lexington County Gamecock Club chapter was tabbed as the chapter of the year. Gunter knows that just like Staley’s staff is
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Pictured here with the Lexington County Gamecock Club receiving the chapter of the year award, Gunter (middle, holding award) served as an honorary coach for the Dec. 1, 2014, South Carolina women’s basketball 90-26 win over North Carolina Central.
Lexington County Gamecock Club chapter president Steve Gunter has been heavily involved with Gamecock athletics for a long time. One of his greatest thrills though as a Gamecock came this past December when he was afforded the opportunity to serve as an honorary basketball coach for the South Carolina women’s basketball team in their game with North Carolina Central on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. His efforts obviously helped as the Gamecocks easily best the Eagles, 90-26. Gunter left the whole experience more than impressed with Staley and her staff. “True professionalism from the top of the staff down,” Gunter said. “Coach Staley is a true professional. She keeps her team very focused. She treated me like I was a part of the team. The ball she signed, what they gave me is in my case at home. It’s an honor. It definitely is. It was a true pleasure.”
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24 • Spurs & Feathers
March 25, 2015
South Carolina holds annual ‘Thank Alumni for Giving Day’ by kyle heck Reporter
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have in any area. You can’t be successful in your endeavors without the support of the alumni.” The student-athletes themselves also recognize the importance of donors and are grateful for the opportunity to take advantage of all of the benefits the donors have helped provide. “It’s very important,” said Shelbretta Ball, a member of the women’s basketball team who, despite being declared medically ineligible her freshman year, stayed with the program and helps with video productions and even has her own video blog. “They are the reason why we get to do what we do. They are why we are able to have all of the benefits we have.” TAG Day provides the perfect opportunity for students to show their appreciation,
as they reap some of the biggest benefits that the incoming money provides. The donations have also allowed the Gamecock Club to continue to thrive in their pursuit of providing the students with everything they need. “The Gamecock Club is excited to participate in the Thank Alumni for Giving Day,” said Gamecock Club Executive Director Patrick McFarland. “We can never thank our donors enough for their generosity and support. With their donations, the Gamecock Club is able to support Gamecock student-athletes and provide the support necessary to compete in the classroom and athletically. What a better way to say thank you than the student-athletes extending their appreciation to Gamecock Club members.”
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On Wednesday, March 18, the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center was the site of the yearly “Thank Alumni for Giving Day,” TAG for short, hosted by the Gamecock Club. It was an opportunity for student-athletes to sign their name, along with writing their jersey number and sport, on thank you cards meant for the many alumni donors that provide to South Carolina. There was a table by the door where students signed several cards each before going to study or eat in the dining hall. Without the help of donors, the building of the Dodie, the Rice Athletics Center and many of the other new facilities around campus would not have been possible. “Our student-athletes, coaches and staff are grateful for the support our donors show us each and every year,” said Kendall Belk, South Carolina’s Coordinator of Stewardship and Development Communications. “Thank Alumni for Giving Day is a great way for us to demonstrate our appreciation of the generous gifts that our Gamecock Club members, alumni and fans contribute to our programs.” Belk, an alumni of the University herself, knows how important it is to give back and help South Carolina continue to be one of the best schools in the nation, academically and athletically. “As an alumni of the University of South Carolina, I am proud to support my alma mater through the Family Fund with my annual contributions to the Gamecock Club and My Carolina Alumni Association,” Belk said. The last few years have been particularly strong for South Carolina as along with the facilities on Heyward Street, the school has also built new practice fields for the football team, a brand new outdoor tennis facility and sand volleyball courts for the fledgling program, just to name a few. Athletics Director Ray Tanner has overseen a lot of these new developments and knows things like that came to fruition because of alumni giving back. “It’s critical to the success that we can all enjoy on this campus, whether it’s athletically or academically,” Tanner said. “Without the support that they give us, it really hampers the success that you can
Spurs & Feathers • 25
March 25, 2015
Sessions stays motivated daily
by brian hand Executive Editor
Motivation can come in many ways. “Oh, they say you can’t shoot.” “Make them respect my PG. They say you can’t shoot. Show them you can shoot.” These words from junior guard/forward Asia Dozier to Gamecock junior point guard Khadijah Sessions mean a great deal to Sessions. It’s no secret that many have questioned Sessions’ ability to knock down the midrange and long-range shot for the Gamecocks. Sessions is not tired about answering the question about whether or not she can hit the shots. She uses it as motivation to get better. “It’s just a topic of discussion when you’re thinking about the South Carolina Gamecocks. What’s the weakness? And they’re going to point that out and I take offense to that. It really motivates me,” Sessions said. Sessions has improved this facet of her game exponentially this year, but she knows she can still do better, but no matter what she is going to impact a game and that is what she strives for daily. “I can take my game to another level than it is, but it’s at a level where I’m consistently working hard every day, no matter if I am scoring 12 points, zero points, you’re going to get something out of me,” the Myrtle Beach High School product commented. “I take a lot of pride in my defense and I have things I have to work on. Obviously, I worked on my shot and I still need to work on my shot. Right now, it’s falling and it’s more a confidence thing than actually getting in the gym because I get in the gym. It’s just a confidence thing and just being able to do my role. If I do my role, we’ll be alright.” Before the 2014-15 season commenced one thing that Sessions pointed out was how much time she had put into the film room to get better. That has not stopped and she takes pride in her attention to details. “I really still watch a lot of film,” Sessions said. “That’s all I do before every team we play. If we’ve already played them, I always watch the previous game to see where I can be effective, where others can be effective. Coach Staley always preaches film (watching). She preaches not only go watch yourself, but also go watch the defense, watch what you could have done differently. We always speak about what we could have
done differently. Even if we win, we still could have done things differently. It takes you going back and watching that. I just take pride in watching film.” Sessions ended South Carolina’s SEC Tournament championship run averaging 4.5 points per game on the year. She dealt out a team-best 98 assists through the end of the SEC Tournament. Sessions ended the SEC Tournament shooting just under 40 percent at 39.4 percent (52-for-132) on the year. In addition to her teammates motivation and her personal motivation, Sessions also has the opportunity to play for one of the greatest players at her position in history in Dawn Staley. Sessions is not shy about admitting just how tough that really is, but she embraces the chance. “It’s hard,” Sessions noted. “It’s probably one of the hardest things ever. She has very high expectations. She not only sees it as a coach, she’s done it as a player. Most coaches haven’t played the position or they haven’t done it, but she’s done it. Sometimes you have to just sit back and listen to what she has to say. I had to learn her. My first year, I did not get it. I did not understand what she was asking for, what she was looking for, but now I get it. I get her. She gets me and she gets that I get what she wants and that I get how to run her basketball team. I’m glad I have one more year to play under the direction of her.” Sessions in the end is literally living her dream and she never loses sight of that. “This is one of my dreams to do this and to be able to say, I’ve lived my dream, I’m just blessed to be a part of something so special,” Sessions said.
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26 • Spurs & Feathers
March 25, 2015
PHOTO BY ALLEN sharpe
Brown has become one of the biggest supporters for Gamecock equestrian by kyle heck Reporter
friend, a Tiger fan, suggested that he and Brown go see the meet because both teams were very good. Brown went, the GameIn November of 2013, a new face showed cocks beat Auburn 12-6 and he was immeup in Gamecock gear in Auburn for the diately hooked. And because LaGrange is South Carolina-Auburn equestrian meet. just a short drive from Auburn, it made the Head coach Boo Major and her studentGamecock victory even sweeter. athletes weren’t used to seeing Garnet and “I think the first time I ever talked to Black in Auburn, Ala. or or even Athens, (Major) was one time I bumped into her in Ga. where he showed up recently for South Columbia and I said, ‘appreciate you guys Carolina’s meet, so nataturally the team beating Auburn,’” Brown said. “Because wanted to know who he was. sometimes we have a hard time beating His name is Steven Brown, a Pickens, Auburn in some of the sports so it’s great S.C. native who currently resides in Lato live down there and beat them.” Grange, Ga. and is involved with the A major thing that made Brown want to Gamecock Club chapter and the Alumni continue watching the Gamecocks was the Association in the city. fact that Major and her team are so nice. It was because of a friend that he decided They welcomed Brown with open arms to first go to the meet in Auburn. The and went out of their way to talk with him.
Back in his college days, Brown had a friend who had a couple of Quarter Horses and he used to jump fences with them. While he fell a few times, it was something that Brown enjoyed to do. That familiarity with horses is also another reason that Brown enjoys to watch the Gamecocks. “I’m just very proud of this program and all of the others,” Brown said. “But I especially enjoy seeing this and it sort of makes me remember the horse riding. But I think I would be afraid to get on one and try to jump now. But 35-40 years ago, I could do it pretty well. Not at any competitive level, but it was fun.” For Brown, it’s nice to see the increasing amount of support for Gamecock equestrian. One of the most successful sports on
campus, equestrian has two national championships (2005 and 2007) and back-toback SEC championships (2013 and 2014). Major has enjoyed seeing Brown out at meets and not just because of the fact that her team is undefeated when he attends. “It was so nice to have him come out and really support our group, especially at an away competition,” Major said. “We’ve had a lot of fun with him, taking pictures and all that. We think he’s great.” Along with the success of the equestrian team, Brown said things are also going well in Atlanta. They now have a Gamecock license plate in Georgia and have already sold 1,000 of them. “We’ve got 1,000 license plates running up and down the highways in Georgia, which is fabulous,” Brown said.
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March 25, 2015
Upcoming Events: Gamecock Club
Sumter County Gamecock Club Spring Banquet featuring Steve Spurrier When: Wednesday, March 25th, 6 p.m. Where: USC Sumter Nettles Building The Sumter County Gamecock Club is hosting South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier for an event on Wednesday, March 25. The event will also feature former South Carolina baseball head coach and New York Yankees legend Bobby Richardson. Tickets are just $25 and dinner is included. To purchase tickets, please contact Paul Weissenstein (803-418-5700), Libby Aycock (803-968-2738) or David Stewart (803-773-9316). Tickets must be purchased in advanced and will not available at the door.
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Aiken County Gamecock Club Spring Banquet featuring Steve Spurrier When: Wednesday, April 22nd, 6 p.m. Where: Aiken County Shrine Club Tickets: $15 (includes BBQ dinner) A limited number of tickets are still available. To purchase tickets, please contact Chris Fulmer (803-649-5974), Frank Davis (803-275-7056) or Allstate Tom Young (803-648-2672). No tickets will be sold at the door.
28 â€˘ Spurs & Feathers
March 25, 2015
Sights from start of spring practice Photos by Juan Blas
Spurs & Feathers • 29
March 25, 2015
Mangus visits Aiken County Gamecock Club by Ed Girardeau Contributing Editor
Photo by allen sharpe
South Carolina quarterbacks/tight ends coach G.A. Mangus, right, visited with the Aiken County Gamecock Club on Tuesday, March 11. “Brendan’s a good athlete and I think he can be a good quarterback,” Mangus expressed. “It was my idea to move him back and once he gets his confidence back, I think he can be a good quarterback.” When asked about Pharoh Cooper at quarterback, Mangus said he would be in the mix. “He’ll run the “wildcat” offense, but he’s important at wide receiver,” Mangus noted. “We’ll find ways to get the ball into his hands.” Overall, Mangus is just excited for the future of Gamecock football. “I’m a half full glass kind of guy. I love being around positive people and we have a lot of positive people around us now,” Mangus articulated. “I can’t wait to get the rest of the new blood in with the group we have now. Great things are happening at the University of South Carolina. The golf teams are ranked in the top three in the nation, the women’s basketball team is great, the men’s basketball team is on a upward projection; don’t tell me that Frank Martin is not going to get it done. He will get it done and Chad (Holbrook) is going to have us up there at the top in baseball. “We’re going to work hard in the spring to get football back on top. What will happen in the fall? I don’t know. Ask me after spring practice is over. I’m not worried about the fall, I’m worried about the spring and getting our players to be the best they can be. And if we can do that, we will be excellent in the fall,” Mangus concluded.
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With spring practice now upon us and the departure of starting quarterback Dylan Thompson, you would think the foremost problem would be finding a starting quarterback. Not according to G.A. Mangus, quarterback and tight ends coach for South Carolina. Mangus was the guest speaker at the Aiken County Gamecock Club business meeting in downtown Aiken on Tuesday, March 11. President of the club, Chris Fulmer, said it was a get together to get organized for the spring meeting on April 22 when head coach Steve Spurrier will be in town. “We do a business meeting every year and this one is important as we want a strong showing for coach Spurrier when he comes to town,” Fulmer reported. “I also like to get a speaker to come down and give us an update on how things are going and we are very fortunate to have coach Mangus spend some time with us.” Gamecock Club Executive Director, Patrick McFarland, was on hand and he updated the group on the activities of the club. “We broke a record in membership last year that actually reached 19,000,” McFarland said. “Based on the past, we are on schedule to get between 18,000 and 19,000, so we’re very pleased with that.” Mangus followed with an update on recruiting. Eight newcomers are in school and will participate in spring drills. 23 more will join the team in June and the coach says they think that all will be there. “Some have some work to do in their classes, but we think they will all get in,” Mangus said. Mangus mentioned that the class brings in some much needed help on the defensive line. “Players like Marquavius Lewis, Dexter Wideman and Dante Sawyer will add some great DNA to our defensive line and we needed that,” Mangus said. Of course the quarterback situation is on everybody’s minds and Mangus is well aware of it. “Quarterback is the least of our problems,” Mangus expressed. “We have plenty of good quarterbacks on campus and I look forward to what they are able to accomplish.” All of the quarterbacks will compete. Connor Mitch, Perry Orth, Michael Scarnecchia and incoming freshman Lorenzo Nunez will get a look. “I expect good things from all of them,” the quarterback coach explained. “I would have like to have had Nunez in for the spring, but he’ll come over from Georgia and attend meetings and be ready to go on June 1.” Brendan Nosovitch’s short time at tight end has ended and he too will compete for the starting QB job.
30 • Spurs & Feathers
March 25, 2015
photo by brian hand
Lewis: ‘I wanted to come where I was needed’
by kyle heck Reporter
When junior college transfer Marquavius Lewis was deciding which school he wanted to attend, he had one major thing in mind. “I wanted to come where I was needed,” Lewis said. That is definitely the case at South Carolina after the Gamecocks struggled to create a pass rush last year. Both Gerald Dixon and Jordan Diggs had just two sacks to lead the team and Lewis, who was a four-star prospect and the best junior college defensive end in the country, hopes to better that num-
ber, saying he is aiming for a double-digit number of sacks. A Greenwood, S.C. native, Lewis went out to Hutchinson Community College in Kansas where he spent two years. While he was being recruited, he said he talked to former Gamecock Kelcy Quarles, who told him what he needed to know about South Carolina. Since has come to Columbia, his new teammates have done a great job welcoming him back home. “It’s been very comfortable,” Lewis said. “These guys have opened up their friendship to me since I got here. It’s been pretty
much a team effort.” When he graduated from Greenwood High School, he weighed just 215 pounds, which is not an ideal amount for a defensive end prospect. However, he got a job at Burger King and a short while later, he weighed 270 pounds. Listed at 266 pounds, Lewis said the coaches at South Carolina want him to lose about five pounds and trim about 5-10 percent of body fat from his body. One of the biggest adjustments for him has been getting adjusted to the major college game. “There is a big difference in player person-
nel,” Lewis said. “But it is going pretty well. The only thing we can do is study the play book and learn the plays.” Lewis also added that he is focusing on getting off of the ball faster and getting used to the speed of SEC football. The junior, despite not playing a down of football for the Gamecocks, came into the spring listed atop the depth chart at one of the defensive end positions. However, he doesn’t see that title as pressure. “There’s no pressure. I’m just relying on my teammates to help out as well because it is a team effort,” Lewis said.
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March 25, 2015
‘Tis the season for college basketball With the number one seed in the Greensboro Region, the South Carolina women are in phase three of what has been a remarkable season. The first phase was completed with winning a share of the regular-season SEC title. After losing to UConn, and the number one ranking after three months, Dawn Staley did a superb job of keeping the team on course, taking care of LSU, Vandy, and Arkansas on the road, before beating Tennessee for the first time Ed Girardeau in Columbia since Contributing 1980, which gave Editor USC a share of the regular-season title since the two would finish tied with one loss in SEC play. Carolina tripped at Kentucky to end the regular-season and there were whispers that perhaps the Gamecocks were slipping. Again, the ladies took care of business in phase two winning three games in three days and beat Tennessee, this time convincingly, to win the SEC Tournament for the first time. After being pleasantly surprised with the number one seed last year and shipping out to Seattle, it was a different atmosphere this year. There was still a great crowd on hand for the selection into the tournament, but this time it was no surprise that the women were the number one seed and would play host for the first two rounds in Columbia. Meanwhile, the men improved on last year’s season by winning six regular-season SEC games and two more wins in the SEC Tournament, a feat they accomplished last year. The two wins in the tournament were brought home when the fact came out that Auburn, who won three times, had not won twice in the SEC in 30 years. Unless your name is Kentucky, it’s not necessarily that easy. USC found itself on the outside looking in when the NIT passed us by. Coach Martin said it best: “we just didn’t win enough games.” The Gamecocks took care of business in the first half, but eerily similar to the football team, lost close games that could have gone the other way. Beating Arkansas in the next to last game of the season would have been huge, but the game was a real window of what the season was like. Trailing by 20 with six minutes to play in the first half,
photo by allen sharpe
Carolina stormed back to take an 11-point lead in the second only to lose it down the stretch in the final two minutes. Would one more win have made a difference? Maybe when it comes to the NIT. Be that as it may, as far as I’m concerned, we’ve got the NIT t-shirts and been there, done that. Time to move on to next season. With the newcomers joining this year’s squad there is reason for optimism. Not just NIT optimism either. Just like the women, which coach Staley has taken from 10 wins
(2 SEC) in 2008-09, to perennial basketball power, the men are making progress. A winning record in SEC play next year is a good goal and would probably put the Gamecocks in the NCAA Tournament equation. It will be imperative to find consistent offensive scoring. The defense is good enough, but as we saw, particularly in the SEC regular-season, there are plenty of teams playing good defense. There were glimpses this year of what could become
very good offensive players. Another year of practice and an influx of new blood, next year could very well be the cross over year. It’s a tough league. The SEC gets a bum wrap that it is soft. Kentucky makes it look that way. National analysts try to make the case that Kentucky does not play tough teams. I don’t buy that. The teams are really pretty good. And South Carolina is going to be one of those teams soon. I look forward to November and starting again!
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March 25, 2015