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April 23, 2014 • Volume 36 • Issue 4 • $1.50


Garnet & Black:

Thompson springs into action Dawn Staley lands top recruit:

Meet A’ja Wilson Reminder: Renew football season tickets and parking by May 9

2 • Spurs & Feathers

April 23, 2014

Garnet & Black spring game a great day for all Gamecocks by mike kucharski

South Carolina football’s annual spring game finished with Black defeating Garnet, 28-10, but the real story of the day was the fun at the Gamecock Club Fan Fest and on the field in front of the 36,412 Gamecock fans. At halftime of the game, the SEC regularseason champion South Carolina women’s basketball team was honored before all of the 2014 Spring Game Awards were given out to the football team (listed below). Head football coach Steve Spurrier led the halftime ceremony as he also honored Connor Shaw, Ronald Patrick, Bruce Ellington, Victor Hampton, Chaz Sutton, Jimmy Legree, and Jadeveon Clowney. Spurrier also took the time to recognize two former players who won the newly-created Gamecock Legend award: Stephon Gilmore and Marcus Lattimore. Though neither was in attendance, Spurrier urged the crowd to cheer loudly because he knew they would be watching on television. Prior to the game the Gamecock Club held the Fan Fest outside of Williams-Brice Stadium with plenty of games, food and booths, including the 2014 football poster giveaway to fans. There was also a corn hole tournament with an autographed Gamecock helmet as first prize and a tailgate competition judged by Jay Phillips and Michael Haney of 107.5 the Game and former Gamecock Ryan Brewer. As far as the game itself, the offensive starters played for mostly just the first quarter as quarterback Dylan Thompson led the Black squad. Thompson did come off the bench right before the half to lead a final drive and throw the “celebrity offthe-bench touchdown pass.” Women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley ran out to the corner of the end zone and caught a 30-yard touchdown from Thompson before celebrating with a “snow angel” and being carried off the field by the players. “I think the best play of the spring game had to be the catch by wide receiver Dawn Staley,” Spurrier said after the game. “Dylan had to put up about a 45-yard throw … he put it in the air and Dawn made an excellent catch, got down with it and she was in the end zone and knew she had to hit the ground with it. It was an excellent catch. “Other than that the guys played pretty well, not much of a real game. The defense

2014 Spring Game Awards Most Improved:

OL - Brock Stadnik, DL - Deon Green, WR Carlton Heard, Spur - Jordan Diggs, LB - Jonahtan Walton, TE - Jerell Adams, S TJ Gurley, CB - Brison Williams, RB - Shon Carson, QB - Perry Orth; Special Teams, LS - Drew Williams, Holder - Patrick Fish, Freshman, Defense - Jonathan Walton, Offense - Connor Mitch/Jacob August

Legend Award: Marcus Lattimore

Everyday Effort:

Mason Zandi/Mason Harris

Everyday Hustle:

Mike Matulis/JJ Marcus & Skai Moore

Everyday Attitude:

Shamier Jeffery & Shaq Roland/ JT Surratt & Marquis Roberts

Outstanding Weight Room: Brandon Shell/Darius English

Outstanding Walk-Ons:

Darius Paulk/Michael Washington

Harold White GPA:

Devin Potter (3.9)/TJ Gurley (3.4)/ Landon Ard (3.8)

photo by ALLEN SHARPE; design by Trey Asbelle

Women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley caught a touchdown on a 30-yard pass from quarterback Dylan Thompson. Staley was carried off the field by the players. only played a couple of coverages, rushed four every time and so forth … Dylan Thompson looked pretty good. He was passing-wise 8-of-11, 129 yards and he looked pretty good. Perry Orth was 6-for10 and Connor Mitch 7-of-11,” Spurrier continued. The offenses shined for the day with the Black compiling 291 yards on 41 plays and Garnet gaining 245 yards on 42 plays. Redshirt Freshman David Williams had seven total carries for 35 yards and two touchdowns (from 11 and two yards) to go along with two catches for 16 yards. The quarterbacks spread the ball around to 18 different receivers (not counting Staley) and no player caught more than two passes. The defense did force two turnovers from the Garnet, one interception by Jamari Smith and a fumble by Jody Fuller recovered by Chris Moody. Skai Moore led all defenders with seven combined tackles playing for both the Garnet and Black. The defense only gave up one score in the second half, a touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 41-yard pass by Perry Orth to Matrick

Belton. It was the only passing touchdown other than the catch by Staley. Brandon Wilds scored on a three-yard touchdown on the first possession of the game and Elliott Fry kicked a 22-yard field goal in the second quarter to account for the other scores in the game. As far as the meaning behind the game and the final score, Spurrier said that he did not put too much importance on that. “It’s hard to say how important spring practices are. You always play players that don’t always get to play a lot. The older players practice their trade, or their position obviously, but they don’t do a lot of scrimmaging. Football is so different from the other sports because this is a collision sport and you can’t practice collisions because too many guys get hurt. When the real game starts it becomes different, but I think our guys are smart enough to do that,” Spurrier mused. The Gamecock football team will next be in action on Aug. 28 as they open the 2014 season with Texas A&M coming to Williams-Brice Stadium.

Big Plays - Spring Practice: Perry Orth/TJ Holloman

Dr. Harris Pastides Outstanding Student-Athlete Representative of USC: Dylan Thompson

Joe Morrison Offenisve Player of the Spring: Pharoh Cooper

Rex Enright Defensive Player of the Spring: Abu Lamin

Jim Carlen Special Teams Player of the Spring: Elliott Fry

Ernest Brooks - MVP Clemson Game: Connor Shaw

Capital One Bowl Big Play Players:

Bruce Ellington/Victor Hampton

April 23, 2014

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4 • Spurs & Feathers

Spurs & Feathers Published by Aiken Communications, Inc.

Contact Us: 218 Richland Ave. W. Aiken, SC 29801 (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 (803) 335-1400 Ext. 500 Brian Hand Executive Editor (803) 335-1399 Ext. 506

April 23, 2014

What’s Inside? - Table of Contents Martin, Gamecocks know nothing good comes easy...........................................6

Something to crow about!

South Carolina football Pro Day..........................8-10 Augusta chapter makes donation to men’s golf...................................................................11 Football spring practice roundup..........................12 Dawn Staley wants championship hunger.........13 Sand volleyball season winds down......................14 Staley happy to have national spotlight..............16 Football celebrates seniors, successes..................18 Once a Gamecock, always a Gamecock: NFL Gamecocks return...............................................19 Gamecocks give back in Greenville.......................20 Gary Gregor honored by SEC...................................20 Waters assists in creating Gamecocks’ home-field advantages.....................21

Mike Kucharski Reporter (803) 335-1399 Ext. 507

Meet A’ja Wilson............................................................22

Ed Girardeau Contributing Editor/Sales Account Executive (803) 646-9807

“Recruiting Roundup” ................................................24

Dee Taylor Advertising Director (803) 644-2371

Gamecock Club Fan Fest kicks off in Charleston.................................................26

Kathy Boyette Advertising Sales Manager (803) 295-3654

Inside the Chart.............................................................27

Matt Socha Graphic Designer

New York City Gamecock Club ready for spring celebration.................................................28

Postal Information: Spurs & Feathers (ISSN 074454368) is published weekly by Aiken Communications, 326 Rutland Drive, Aiken, South Carolina 29801. Application to Mail at Periodicals Postage Prices is pending at Aiken, SC. POSTMASTER: please send address changes to Spurs & Feathers, 326 Rutland Drive, Aiken, SC 29801.

Upcoming Events: Gamecock Club........................29

Spartanburg/Lancaster chapter check-ins..........23

South Carolina holds annual “Thank Alumni for Giving Day”................................25

Future Gamecock Club member.............................28

In Memoriam.................................................................29 Spring sports roundup...............................................30 Unique views from Ed sponsored by Unique Expressions.........................31

photos by allen sharpe

Sen. Thomas McElveen, D-Sumter, (right) presents a copy of the resolution to Steve Spurrier (left).

Steve Spurrier honored by S.C. General Assembly South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier was honored by the South Carolina General Assembly at the South Carolina State House on Thursday, March 27, 2014. Spurrier was recognized for being the winningest coach in the history of South Carolina football.

April 23, 2014

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April 23, 2014

Martin, Gamecocks know nothing good ever comes easy by brian hand

Frank Martin is a competitor. He wants to win every game that the Gamecocks play. Moral victories don’t mean much to him. Still, Martin is cognizant of the fact that winning two games in the SEC Tournament this year means progress. Winning one more SEC regular-season game than the year before means things are advancing for the Gamecocks. To use business terminology, the South Carolina men’s basketball program to Martin is still in its infancy. “The hardest part of raising a child is like what I’m dealing with right now with my 6-year-old,” South Carolina’s second-year head coach mused. “I want my 6-year-old to act like my 15-year-old and I want my 15-year-old to act as if he was 22 years old, but you can’t shortcut that process. It’s going to happen, eventually. It’s like that for every aspect of our program. Our fans, our administration, internally, on campus, publicly, our media, everyone’s exposed to this growth and there’s going to be days I get mad at my child and there’s going to be days my child gets mad at me. Well at the end of the day, we all have to go sleep in the same home. It’s the same thing here. “There’s going to be days where our fans aren’t going to be happy with our team. There’s going to be days that I’m not going to be happy with our fans, but we’re all in the same boat. We’re all trying to row in the same direction for the same thing. Look at all the other sports – men’s and women’s golf (for example) are both in the top-25 in the country – just go on down the line and we’re just trying to get where those programs are at in our particular sport and to do that you need all hands on deck. You need your fans, you need your administration, you need your alumni, you need your coaches, you need your players … building it to get there is hard and that’s what we’re going through right now,” Martin continued. With the ninth-youngest roster in all of NCAA Division I basketball, South Carolina closed out its 2013-14 season with a record of 14-20. The Gamecocks finished Martin’s first year in charge of the program one year earlier in the 2012-13 season with a record of 14-18. To some this may not seem like progress, but just like many other things in life when you delve deeper you see there is more to the record. Martin competed with the players that were in the cupboard for the most part in the 201213 season. In the 2013-14 season the roster was mainly comprised of his players so in essence this past season was really the beginning of the Martin era.

getting overly happy with a win because the next game is going to be just as hard as the game you just won. Just learning to manage those things. Then losing players and not just players, but key players and then having to change the offense in the second week of January to better fit the personnel that now we were left with after Bruce (leaving for NFL) and Tyrone’s (Johnson) injury. Just the kids managing everything that I just said. That’s what made me proudest,” Martin said. For the most part, Martin and the Gamecocks return the core of their squad that lead to the upward trajectory in the 2013-14 season for the 2014-15 season. The Gamecocks will miss senior guard Brenton Williams, who really came into his own during SEC play this past season. Williams was South Carolina’s leading scorer at 14.9 points per game. He closed out his career with the SEC single-season free throw percentage record of 93 percent (120-of-129). SEC All-Freshman selection Sindarius Thornwell returns for the Gamecocks next year. Thornwell had six 20-point games in league play in the 2013-14 season to break Gamecock legend B.J. McKie’s record for most 20-ponit performances by a freshman in league action. The guard averaged 13.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. He was the only Gamecock to start all 34 games. Also returning for the Gamecocks is Johnson, who will allow the Gamecocks to utilize photo by JENNY DILWORTH Duane Notice more at his natural shooting The Gamecocks closed out their year by winning two games in the SEC Tournament. guard position. A natural point guard, Johnson was averaging 11.2 points and 3.4 assists According to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, South were 6-5 in their final 11 games of the year per game before being injured in a game at Carolina had one of the 40 toughest schedincluding the two league tournament victoTexas A&M on Jan. 15. ules in all of college basketball. Despite ries. The Gamecocks won four of their last Notice, who had his best game of the year so much youth on the roster, South Carosix in the 2013-14 season. with 23 points, eight rebounds, three assists lina was still able to capture the 14 overall The way the Gamecocks closed their year and a steal in the SEC Tournament win over wins, which included besting then No. 17 against seemingly tough odds is what makes Auburn, ended his freshman year averaging and NCAA National Championship Game Martin most proud. 8.2 points and 2.9 assists per game. participant Kentucky in Columbia, S.C. on “Whether it be understanding how to pracPair these three guards up with a rapidly March 1. tice at a college pace – I was a high school improving now veteran frontcourt that inThe league win over the traditional bluecoach so this is not disrespectful to high cludes Michael Carrera (6.0 points and 5.6 bloods of Kentucky was part of five conferschool coaches – which is when you get you rebounds per game), Mindaugas Kacinas ence wins for the young Gamecocks in the to college you’ve got everyone’s best high (5.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game) and 2013-14 season. The five SEC wins were one school players,” Martin elaborated. “When Laimonas Chatkevicius (4.8 points and 4.1 more than the year before. you get to practice it is that much better berebounds per game) and you have a very The win over Kentucky was also part of a cause of the conglomeration of talent. Their strong returning core. This will be buoyed strong last 11 games for South Carolina that growth as far as their understanding of a even further by freshman forward Demetrius saw the Gamecocks win the aforementioned scouting report, which in November their Henry, who made 29 starts and averaged 4.0 two SEC Tournament games scouting reports were like points and 3.4 rebounds per game. for the first time since 2006. talking to the wall. At the end In essence this returning depth is what The Gamecocks bested Auof the year guys actually uncould make the Gamecocks formidable in burn and Arkansas in the SEC derstood what you were trying the future as the younger players continue Tournament before falling to to do. to grow, particularly when you add in even Sweet Sixteen participant Ten“Losing games, learning how more depth from the strong recruiting class nessee in the quarterfinals of to manage losing games, that’s for the upcoming year that Martin and his the tournament. something that is important so staff have assembled. All Gamecock basketball guys don’t get wrapped up in South Carolina commenced South Carolina last year had 11 players its conference campaign at just coverage sponsored by the negativity. The moments Please see Martin, Page 15 1-9, but the Gamecocks in total that we had wins, guys not Yesterdays

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April 23, 2014

photo by allen sharpe

South Carolina equestrian ended its year as SEC champions and national runner-ups. The Gamecocks were ranked No. 1 for 20 straight weeks and owned a record of 15-3.

South Carolina equestrian narrowly misses out on national championship on tiebreaker SOUTH CAROLINA ATHLETICS MEDIA RELATIONS

the meet, knocking off Kylee Arbuckle, 142128. But the Bulldogs went on to win the final three flat points to take a 3-1 lead. WACO, Texas - No. 1 South Carolina’s bid The Gamecocks put on a dominating perfor a third overall national championship fell formance in horsemanship, winning 3-of-4 short, as the Gamecocks lost the champion- points to tie the meet at 4-4. In her final ride ship meet in a tiebreaker to the University of as a Gamecock, western team captain Alison Georgia at the Extraco Events Center. The Ceresani defeated Paige Stawicki, 148-141.5. meet ended in a 8-8 tie, but the Bulldogs pre- The Bulldogs won the next point to take a vailed on the tiebreaker, 2,323.5-2,219. 4-2 lead, but back-to-back wins from Sam “We’re certainly disappointed, but when Chiodo and Johnna Letchworth evened the you’re competing against a good team like score at four apiece. Chiodo knocked off the Georgia, you can’t make mistakes, and Bulldogs’ Heather Schmidt, 150.5-144. In unfortunately we made a few mistakes that her final horsemanship ride as a Gamecock, we couldn’t get back,” South Carolina head Letchworth saved one of her best career coach Boo Major said. “But I can’t tell you rides for the end, tying an event-high score how proud I am of this team - we started out 155.5 to knock off Georgia’s Anna Sasser by behind, then we got ahead, and just weren’t 3.5 points. able to carry it out in the long run. Our Carolina built on its lead in equitation over girls handled themselves beautifully, and I fences, again winning 3-of-4 points to take a couldn’t be more proud of them.” 5-4 lead heading in to the final event. SophoSaturday’s competition began in the covmore Samantha Smith won the first jumping ered arena, where the Bulldogs jumped out point to give the Gamecocks a 5-4 advanto an early lead after winning 3-of-4 points tage when she knocked off Liza Finsness, in equitation on the flat. South Carolina 161-137. The Bulldogs won the next point to junior Alexa Anthony won the first point of tie it at five apiece, but juniors Amber Henter

and Katherine Schmidt posted back-to-back wins, allowing Carolina to take a 7-5 lead. Henter posted a 167 to defeat Georgia’s Arbuckle by 27-points, and Schmidt followed with an event-high score 170, defeating the Bulldogs’ Meg O’Mara by 11 points. In reining, Georgia opened with three straight points to take a 8-7 lead over the Gamecocks. Junior Layla Choate closed out the meet with a 139-135.5 win over Georgia’s Charley Thiel to tie the meet at 8-8, where the Bulldogs prevailed in the tiebreaker. The Gamecocks will hold their end-ofseason banquet on April 27. Point-by-Point Scoring South Carolina-Georgia 1-0 : Alexa Anthony defeats Kylee Arbuckle, 142-128, on Sparky. 1-1 : Liza Finsness defeats Kelsey Hart, 152-140, on Calvin. 1-2 : Olivia Dorey defeats Samantha Smith, 150-145, on Gideon. 1-3 : Meg O’Mara defeats Katherine Schmidt, 149-142, on Overtime. 2-3 : Alison Ceresani defeats Paige Sta-

wicki, 148-141.5, on Sly. 2-4 : Sara Parr defeats Katie Kopf, 155.5147, on Matt. 3-4 : Sam Chiodo defeats Heather Schmidt, 150.5-144, on Skip. 4-4 : Johnna Letchworth defeats Anna Sasser, 155.5-152, on Smokey. 5-4 : Samantha Smith defeats Liza Finsness, 161-137, on Sam. 5-5 : Abby O’Mara defeats Alexa Anthony, 149-142, on Changoo. 6-5 : Amber Henter defeats Kylee Arbuckle, 167-140, on Wyatt. 7-5 : Katherine Schmidt defeats Meg O’Mara, 170-159, on Mojo. 7-6 : McKenzie Lantz defeats Johnna Letchworth, 145-134.5, on Chex. 7-7 : Lauren Garmon defeats Sarah Bouchard, 138.5-0, on Cash. 7-8 : Lauren Tieche defeats Cody McMillion, 147.5-135, on Larry. 8-8 : Layla Choate defeats Charley Thiel, 139-135.5, on Cowboy. Final Score: Georgia wins on the tiebreaker, 2,323.5-2,219.

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April 23, 2014


Former South Carolina two-sport standout Bruce Ellington showed off his talents to almost every NFL team in the country at the 2014 Gamecock football pro day on April 2.

Pro Day provides unique opportunity by brian hand

fourth this past season. In addition to Clowney, this year’s pro day featured wide receiver Bruce Ellington, corThe South Carolina football program unnerback Victor Hampton, cornerback Jimder Steve Spurrier has become one of the my Legree, offensive guard Ronald Patrick, elite programs in all of college football. defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles, quarterback One of the reasons for the upward swing of Connor Shaw, wide receiver DeAngelo Gamecock football is that some of the best Smith, defensive end Chaz Sutton and wide players not just in the Palmetto State, but in receiver David Wilkins. the country have decided that the University All of the players in attendance have of South Carolina is the best place for them. known for a long time that this year’s pro When national No. 1 player Jadeveon day would be huge, but to them it was a Clowney decided to take his talents to Wil- tremendous advantage in getting more eyes liams-Brice Stadium a few years back one on them as they try to move up or even on to of the biggest chips in the rejuvenation of the NFL draft boards. Gamecock football was finally in place. “I love it,” Quarles explained. “I love comTo this end, it came as no surprise to any- ing out here hearing the fans scream and one that South Carolina’s annual pro day seeing the kids and everything right when on April 2 featuring Clowney this year was you come out of the tunnel it just reminds truthfully a circus. you of Saturdays and it just gives you a good Representatives from almost every NFL going off to the NFL. I’m glad to see everyteam (30 of 32) made their way to Columbia body out here today.” to see not only the defensive end who has a Sutton agreed with Quarles, noting “I shot to go No. 1, but also some of the other remember about two years ago with Alshon top-notch talent that helped South Carolina (Jeffery) and Melvin (Ingram) it was crazy to a program-best final national ranking of and last year was crazy and this year it’s just

elevated.” For Hampton the whole South Carolina pro day experience was just another way to showcase his talents. “I didn’t look at the (NFL) combine as pressure,” Hampton said. “I didn’t look at it as being pressure out here at all. Just a chance to come showcase what I’m good at, so I didn’t look at it as pressure out here at all … it’s something I’ve been working for all my life so I was ready for everything they could throw at me.” In his efforts to show he is truly an NFL quarterback, Shaw was pleased to have the Clowney advantage at this year’s pro day. “He brought the scouts out here so I thank him that he came out early so I could get the opportunity to have everybody watching me too,” Shaw remarked jokingly. Most of the players seemed happy with their performances at the annual pro day event. “Yes, pretty much,” Sutton said. “I feel like I had a good day, but I feel like I could’ve done some things better. I didn’t have the opportunity to go to any games

after the season or the opportunity to go the combine so I just wanted to come out here and show that I improved and show them that I’m here to work and be a part of something special.” In a process that can take a long time with the NFL Draft still not set to start until May 8 all of the former Gamecock football players also relished being in front of the home faithful at Williams-Brice Stadium one last time. “It helped it a lot,” Quarles commented. “As y’all know, Columbia is a hot place, but it was real good today. It went well. It was good to be in front of fans … it was good to have them out here, to be out here one last time. It warmed my heart just to be out here again.” Having never lost as a starter inside the friendly confines of Williams-Brice Stadium, Shaw reiterated Quarles’ thoughts. “It’s absolutely bittersweet,” Shaw relayed. “This is my home. I never lost here and I can always say coming back here I’ll always have great memories and it’s pretty special to end on a note like this today.”

April 23, 2014

Spurs & Feathers • 9

Shaw taking advantage of stage he has been given by brian hand

You love his toughness, you love the way he competes, coach’s kid, film junkie. He’s got mobility so if he does have to come in games Connor Shaw finished his part of South he can create with his feet and do different Carolina’s annual pro day by going 40-of-42 things. I love the kid. If he was a little bit tallon his passes according to statistics compiled er and a little more consistent with his accuby the scouts in attendance. racy in throwing the ball down the field, then Despite the strong showing, one reporter we’d be talking about him a lot earlier. He’s was compelled to ask him after his pro day shown improvement in terms of throwing the performance what position he thought he ball and I think he’s going to get a chance.” would be playing in the NFL. McNabb echoed McShay’s assertions, arThe man who never lost a home game as ticulating that a team with a proven starter the starting quarterback at South Carolina is probably the team best suited to bring in responded quickly to the question. Shaw. “I think I’ll get my opportunity as a quar“He’ll get a chance to compete and show terback,” Shaw mused. “That’s what I’ve the coaches that he has the ability and talent been working out as, went to the combine as to adjust to their type of offense,” McNabb a quarterback, out here (pro day) as a quarsaid. “Here’s a guy who over his career has terback. I haven’t heard anything different so adjusted in many different ways and prowe’ll just have to see.” gressed each and every year. Connor Shaw Shaw’s assertion that he is an NFL-caliber will have an opportunity to compete for a quarterback is not just his own as many of number two or three spot and years from those in attendance, including former NFL now we’ll see what happens.” Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb South Carolina’s all-time winningest quarbelieve he has the ability to prosper at the terback closed out the pro day overall pleased next level. with his performance and ready for the “I think just looking over his career and month ahead. photo by JENNY DILWORTH the success that they’ve had as a team, it’s “I’m very for excited for my future,” Shaw Connor Shaw concluded South Carolina’s annual pro day by going 40-of-42 on his passes. all a big credit to Connor Shaw and his abil- noted.. “My April is slammed with some ity to will the team to win games,” McNabb private workouts so I’m excited about it. This remarked. is not the end for me, but overall it’s a good McNabb went on to further emphasize why day.” he thinks Shaw has the capabilities to be a After a fairly successful NFL Combine in successful quarterback in the NFL. Indianapolis recently, Shaw was using the “Everyone can improve in every facet of South Carolina pro day to show that he could their game (in the NFL),” McNabb comment- go under center. ed. “At the quarterback position, it’s pocket “Mainly here I was a shotgun quarterback, presence. It’s getting that timing down with so I thought I did a pretty good job of that three-, five- and seven-step drops. I know it today and a little bit more velocity, which wasn’t a traditional offense as far as pro set also I felt really good about today,” Shaw that they ran here, but he can adjust. He has remarked. the ability to adjust, has great size and I think Shaw’s hard work and dedication could for any team that gives him an opportunity, pay off soon by being picked in the NFL he’ll show that.” Draft (May 8-10). He isn’t worried about that ESPN analyst Todd McShay also truly right now though as he feels he is taking all believes Shaw’s position in the NFL will re- the right steps in what he described as the main quarterback. “world’s longest job interview.” “I’ve got a day-three round grade on him,” “Obviously I’d just like to get drafted, but McShay relayed. “I think he absolutely stays either way (drafted or free agent) you’re goat quarterback. I think you draft him to deing to have your shot … the only thing I can velop into a number two eventually down focus on is how hard I work and everything the line, maybe a number three early on. else is out of my hands,” Shaw said.

Check for updates on Gamecock athletics.

10 • Spurs & Feathers

April 23, 2014

Clowney makes his case for No. 1 pick at South Carolina’s Pro Day by mike kucharski There were 125 credentialed media and representatives from almost every NFL team in attendance for the South Carolina pro day. Many of them were there to solely watch Jadeveon Clowney work out. There were other former Gamecocks that participated in the drills and exercises, but the biggest draw was watching Clowney as he went through position drills. Clowney also addressed the media, taped segments for Fox Sports One and made a live appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter with ESPN personalities Sal Paolantaonio, Todd McShay and Tedy Bruschi. Bruschi, a former NFL linebacker and current ESPN NFL analyst, was impressed with the versatility and athleticism that Clowney displayed. He was awed enough by Clowney’s talent to claim he should definitely be the first pick in May’s NFL Draft. “They’d be insane not to take him No. 1. I’ll say that over and over again. I’ll say it to ESPN, to you, to whoever wants to hear it. They’d be insane not to take this guy No. 1 because of what he can do and what he will bring ... this kid is extremely valuable to a team and he should go No. 1,” Bruschi stated. Clowney participated in position drills for both defensive linemen and linebackers to display his athleticism which was what he thought was the most important aspect for NFL scouts, general managers and owners to see from his pro day. “I just wanted to show them that I can move well laterally; it’s not only one-way speed. I wanted to show them how quick I could get out of my hips, turn my hips, show them that I could drop in coverage and everything,” Clowney commented. “Also I wanted to show my cardio to show them that I’ve been working out and staying in shape. I did pretty good today. “I still have a lot of proving to do on the field, but today was another step that I took. Showing that my cardio is good, showing that I can move. I think I did pretty good today,” Clowney continued. The pure athleticism that Clowney showed while performing the linebacker drills was one of the most important things that he did during his workout according to Bruschi. “I absolutely think that he could play outside linebacker in the NFL … he said that he didn’t prepare to drop back, he didn’t prepare as a linebacker before this and still he looked good. It’s just natural and he’s amazing. If he can say ‘no, I didn’t really prepare for it’ and go out there and look like he could drop to the flat and flip his hips twice and then break forward, that was impressive,” Bruschi commented.

Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien the team that holds the top pick in the NFL Draft next month - was also pleased to see Clowney display his versatility and get the chance to speak with him one-on-one. “He played defensive end in a four-down scheme here, so it was good to see him go through a bunch of different drills here. He’s an athletic guy obviously, so it was good to see him do those different things,” O’Brien said. “You just watch him go through the drills. We were able to spend some time with him last night also; he’s a good guy to talk to, he’s a team guy. So it has just been good to be out here today and last night to get another chance to get to know him better.” Clowney and the Texans’ representatives were able to talk at dinner the night before pro day about a number of things, from family to football to other questions that have surrounded him throughout the process leading up to the draft. “They asked me the same questions everyone has been asking me about my work ethic. I tell them the same thing that I tell everybody: I think I work just as hard as anybody. If you put me in a group or area with guys, I’m going to try to outwork them also. So now we can just keep on pushing onto the Draft. I’ve been tired of answering that question … but it’s something I have to do,” Clowney said. The work ethic question is something that O’Brien said he is “absolutely not” worried about when evaluating Clowney. Former NFL quarterback and current Fox Sports One NFL analyst Donavon McNabb said that he disregards the “poor work ethic” criticism. “This is the problem with kids coming out

of college. That’s the excuse people bring up. What do you want him to do, knock down walls and carry kids to school to show that he’s getting stronger? This young man worked extremely hard. You can’t be in a college program that is top-15, top-10 every year and not have great work ethic … that work ethic deal, it’s garbage to me. It’s just a smokescreen,” McNabb explained. Bruschi echoed those sentiments when talking about Clowney’s work ethic as well. “I’m not one of those guys that believes that he didn’t work hard. Do I think that he could have played harder in some spots? Sure, but I think we all were that way. It’s called getting tired once in awhile. It happens and I remember it happened to me in college as a pass rusher,” Bruschi reiterated. Clowney said that though he is tiring of hearing his work ethic questioned, he does not let it get to him. “I never worry about what people say about me. I worry about my teammates because I deal with them each and every day and we’re like a family in the locker room. Every time the media says something about me I always say ‘don’t worry about me, you know I’ve got your back’ … I don’t worry about that I just go out there and keep working to show them that I’m getting better,” Clowney said. Clowney said that he has been focusing on his workouts rather than trying to figure out where he could end up playing in the NFL, but he did say that being the top overall pick was still a goal of his. When asked if he felt that he should be the first pick in the Draft, Clowney said “yes; what do you think?” “If you ask a guy that and they say no, then I don’t know what they’re doing. I do feel like I should be the first pick,” Clowney

said. “I can pretty much do it all, anything on defense. I can help be a playmaker. I’ve got what it takes I believe to go out there and help set the tone and help my team win games. “It’s a pride thing. I think coming out of high school I told (defensive coordinator) coach (Lorenzo) Ward, (offensive line) coach (Shawn) Elliott and (former defensive line coach) Brad Lawing, I told those three in a meeting that if I come to Carolina I wanted to leave in three years and I want to be the first person taken in the draft. They said ‘that will be you if you come and we’re going to help you turn into that.’ So I said ‘I’m coming and help me get to my goal.’ That’s always been one of my goals, one of my dreams to be the first guy taken,” Clowney continued. As far as the Texans’ plans for the top pick, O’Brien said that they are still wide open with possibilities. He said Clowney is “a fun guy to watch on film” and that he thinks the Texans plan to have him in for a private workout at some point before the Draft. McNabb was another expert who believes that Clowney would be deserving of the top pick and could be a dynamic player in the NFL. “He’s a rare breed. Everything that you guys have seen down here in South Carolina, everything that the nation has seen since he has been in high school, it’s been wowing. For a guy that was No. 1 in the country out of high school and could possibly be the No. 1 pick, how many people can say that? His speed, his aggressiveness, his tenacity, when he wants to turn it on he can be the most dominant player in the league,” McNabb remarked.

Spurs & Feathers • 11

April 23, 2014

Augusta Gamecock Club chapter makes donation to men’s golf by brian hand

Golf and Augusta, Ga. are snynomous. Every April the national eyes turn to the Augusta National Golf Club for the annual Masters. Just days before the 2014 Masters the Augusta Gamecock Club made a $1,000 donation to the South Carolina men’s golf program. The $1,000 donation was presented by Augusta Gamecock Club board members Tom Rogers and Curley Avant on Saturday, April 5 in Augusta, Ga. where the Gamecocks were playing in the 3M Augusta Invitational at the Forest Hills Golf Club. After the second round of the 3M Augusta Invitational Rogers and Avant visited with South Carolina men’s golf head coach Bill

McDonald and assistant coach Alex Hamilton. The donation to the South Carolina men’s golf program was made in honor of Augusta Gamecock Club chapter treasurer and former Gamecock men’s golf letterman Greg Scurlock. The Augusta Gamecock Club supports the men’s golf program on an annual basis from funds raised from the Border Bash in Augusta, Ga. on the Friday before the South Carolina-Georgia football game. “We very much appreciate the support and interest that our friends with the Augusta Gamecock Club continue to show for our program,” McDonald said. “Their passion and loyalty for the Gamecocks is contagious and we always look forward to getting together. We are so grateful for their generous donation and it most assuredly will benefit the team.”

submitted photo

Pictured left-to-right are Tom Rogers, head coach Bill McDonald and Curley Avant.

12 • Spurs & Feathers

April 23, 2014

Gamecocks hoping to build off successful spring by mike kucharski

time for somebody to go in besides Dylan … Connor Mitch made some good plays and Perry Orth. Brendan, his ball flutters a little South Carolina’s football team is looking to bit … but Perry and Connor Mitch had a good continue the momentum built by the program- high percentage,” Spurrier commented. best ranking of fourth to end the 2013 season A statement was made from the backfield after its spring practice sessions. during spring practice that the Gamecocks The Black defeated the Garnet, 28-10, in the have plenty of depth and talent at the tailback annual spring game, but more importantly position. Starter Mike Davis joked his spring than the final score a few questions were was “relaxing” as he did not get many reps to answered in the spring. The most important help continue recovering from chronic injuries aspect of spring practice - keeping the players that slowed him down the stretch in 2013. healthy - was accomplished for the most part, Thompson said that though Davis did not prachowever tight end Rory Anderson suffered a tice as much he worked extremely hard in the torn triceps and running back Shon Carson weight room and became a smarter player this injured his shoulder in the spring game. The spring. Behind Davis will be Brandon Wilds, extent of the injuries and timetable for these David Williams and Carson, who is expected players’ return is unknown as of yet. to be healthy heading into the fall. Spurrier South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier noted that all of these backs figure in the offennoted that the spring game and practices don’t sive scheme for 2014. always reveal much because young players “Mike is important, so is Brandon Wilds. get experience while more established players Unfortunately Shon Carson cracked his shoulmay get more rest, but he did say that many of der … but Mike is ready to have a big year, the student-athletes played well. When asked Brandon is ready and Shon should be back. how he felt about the team after the spring, David Williams had some nice runs … overall Spurrier gave his traditional answer to down- David is going to be a good back,” Spurrier play expectations heading into the summer. remarked. “I think we have a chance to be a good team. The Gamecock receiving corps looked to We have a lot of guys back on offense and not be another group with depth and talent this as many on defense. We’ve got to go play, got spring as many are looking for the emergence to prepare and play to see if we’re any good or of Shaq Roland. There is also great experience not, but we do return a lot of players,” Spurrier returning in Damiere Byrd, who should be 100 said after the spring game. “We’ve got a lot of percent for the fall, and Nick Jones. The exploplayers who have been here quite awhile, but siveness of Joe Morrison Offensive Player of that means only that. It doesn’t mean we can the Spring Pharoh Cooper will be utilized all beat a lot of teams or not. We could go bad or over the field again this fall with more looks we could go good. We’ll just have to wait and likely going to Shamier Jeffery and K.J. Brent see.” as well. Offense “At wideout, you’ve got whatever name you Everyone knew coming into the spring that want to pick of guys that have made big plays fifth-year senior Dylan Thompson would be in big moments. It’s my job to get them the ball the starting quarterback in the fall after Spur- in space and let them do their thing. I think rier announced it in January and he looked we’re doing a pretty good job of that,” Thompsharp all spring. Thompson played sparingly son said. in the spring game, but did complete 8-of-11 South Carolina’s offensive line has been passes for 129 yards and the special touchlauded all spring and returns four of five startdown pass to women’s basketball head coach ers. A.J. Cann, one of the team captains from Dawn Staley. What was unknown was who last fall, will be in the mix for preseason Allwould be the second-string quarterback and SEC and All-American honors at left guard that question remains unanswered after the while both tackles return as well in Corey spring. Each of the three other quarterbacks, Robinson (left) and Brandon Shell (right). The Connor Mitch, Brendan Nosovitch and Perry center position has a battle going on for playOrth, spent time this spring as the favorite for ing time since both Clayton Stadnik and Cody the backup position, but Mitch may have made Waldrop saw time there last season. Mike the strongest case during the spring game, Matulis - a former Freshman All-American going 7-of-10 for 108 yards while Orth went has moved inside and looks to have taken the 6-of-10 with a touchdown and an interceplead for the right guard spot. There is plenty tion. Spurrier did not make any declaration of size and depth backing up these players on which player would be the backup quarter- and the offensive line will likely be one of the back, but rather extended the competition. strengths of the team. Both Davis and Thomp“Number two, well we’ll let them go through son spoke highly of them after the spring the summer before we make up any decisions game. and we may not make any decisions until it’s “I’ll tell you who is dangerous and the big-

gest weapon on offense, it’s our offensive line,” Davis commented. “Everybody is over 300 pounds. A.J. Cann, Brandon Shell, Corey Robinson, Cody Waldrop, Mike Matulis and all those guys, they’ve done a great job up front. They’ve given us the ability to do the things we can, so if you want to talk about guys who have been putting in the hard work, I’d say the offensive line.” Defense The talk of the spring on the defensive side of the ball was experimentation with a 3-4 defensive lineup. This change allows defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward to utilize the stable of talented linebackers to full advantage while compensating for some of the lost positions on the defensive line and in the secondary. “I think we got better this spring. I feel like we concentrated on the 4-2-5 and worked on the 3-4. We really liked what we did out of the 3-4, so I think that will be a major part of our scheme next season. We feel like we had a lot of positions get better,” Ward said. “I think we’ll have a chance to be as good, if not better than we were last year. “I think we’ve got guys that understand that they’re not going to count on (Jadeveon) Clowney or Kelcy Quarles to make a play. I think we’ll have 11 guys that we can put on the field and play together as a unit. When you get 11 guys that can play as a unit, I think you’ll be okay,” Ward continued. The Gamecock linebackers are headlined by Skai Moore, who led the team in tackles and interceptions as a freshman last fall. Kaiwan Lewis and T.J. Holloman will likely share time in the middle with Jonathan Walton moving over to the weak side to back up Moore. The spurs are going to be led by Sharrod Golightly in his senior year, but there is plenty of depth behind him and all that talent leads the Gamecocks to want to utilize the 3-4. “They should be really ready to play next year … we expect those linebackers to continue improving as they did toward the end of last year. They should all be pretty good,” Spurrier said. The defensive line has some question marks, losing a pair of All-Americans and another senior, but the defensive ends have plenty of speed with the likes of Darius English and Cedrick Cooper on the edge. Gerald Dixon, Jr. and Mason Harris also had strong springs with Dixon, Jr. being likely the most technically sound end. The tackles will be led by returners J.T. Surratt and Phillip Dukes, but the addition of junior college transfer Abu Lamin has made an impact as well. Lamin was chosen the Rex Enright Defensive Player of the Spring and Ward said he could make an impact early. “He definitely can help us. He’s very athletic, he’s God-gifted strong and he’s got a great punch. I think he’ll do a good job giving us a

push inside,” Ward noted. The defensive backfield is still stacked at safety, with Chaz Elder, TJ Gurley, Kadetrix Marcus and Chris Moody allowing Brison Williams to move to cornerback, a position of need. Ward said Jamari Smith has gotten better after making the transition back to defensive back from playing running back last fall. Ward also said that he is happy that the NCAA rules have changed allowing the coaches time with the new players with some highlyrecruited cornerbacks coming to campus this summer. “We’re definitely going to try and see if the five guys we signed can play. We know we’ve got Brison if we have to start him, but we’re going to see if we can give those five freshman a chance,” Ward said. Special Teams The Jim Carlen Special Teams Player of the Spring award went to kicker Elliott Fry who Spurrier likes a lot after proving himself capable of handling pressure last fall. Every kick attempt was handled well by the snapper and holder with no problems as well. Patrick Fish punted twice for 76 yards in the spring game and Tyler Hull booted one punt for 40 yards. Overall While the spring was successful, the team will look to put in the work in the offseason needed to continue the success the program has seen over the past three seasons. Spurrier’s goal of winning an SEC Championship is still out there and could be achieved this year if everything comes together, but he knows that spring practice will only tell you so much. “When the real game starts now it becomes a little different than what we’ve been doing. I think our guys are smart enough to know that and we’ll get a little more fired up when the opponents come into Williams-Brice Stadium starting August 28,” Spurrier commented.

Spurs & Feathers • 13

April 23, 2014

photo by jenny dilworth

Staley wants championship hunger It was, from any perspective, the best season in school history, and yet, it wasn’t good enough. At the end, the Gamecocks won 29 of 34 games for Coach Dawn Staley, brought home the school’s first regular-season SEC Championship, and among other achievements established their home court a place of invincibility, recording a perfect 16-0 record at the Colonial Life Arena. “We got closer,” Staley said, “that has to be something we all remember; I do want to think about that, want our players to think about it and about how close we got to where we want to be. “Come the fall, when we get back together they have to believe we can finish, they have to be able to visualize those couple extra steps we Bart Wright need to take and I want to Contributing believe that’s what will be Writer in their minds.” If it isn’t, it will likely be in the minds of most everyone else that follows women’s college basketball because under Staley the Gamecocks have risen to a level no South Carolina athletic squad other than the baseball team has ever known. The unquestioned judgment is that the Gamecocks are a national power, poised to win a championship. When they start projecting the 2014-15 season, analysts will surely list perennial powers Connecticut, and perhaps Stanford as title contenders -- they seem to be there each March -- but South Carolina, with two Sweet Sixteen appearances fresh in the memory banks, will warrant consideration as well. The team that generated the SEC’s player of the year, Tiffany Mitchell – only the second

sophomore in conference history to win the honor – along with Alaina Coates, the conference’s freshman of the year and co-sixth woman of the year, returns everyone on the squad other than reserve Wilka Montout. Loaded would be an appropriate assessment. “I really haven’t stopped to look back on the whole season,” she said this week. “I took a moment here and there along the way – when we won the SEC, when we won our home games – and I probably will do that at some point, but I’m thinking ahead because we really do have some things in our favor for the future.” The incoming talent will be at the same level Staley has recruited to in recent years. “The talent out there is plentiful and we have been getting our share,” she said. “These are young, talented kids with big egos who know they can play with the best, and that’s okay because there will be times for them when they have to check themselves – we play a team game and that can be a transition for some.” What Staley wants is more than just talent and confidence. She wants championship hunger. “From a mental standpoint, you have to think like champions, you have to spend that time by yourself in the gym, working on your game, you have be serious about the classroom, you have be a leader, all of those things, and more, go into making champions,” Staley remarked. “I don’t think the focus this season was to win a national championship, I really don’t. I don’t think they felt that deep down inside, for some of them it was kind All Gamecock basketball of the first time coverage sponsored by around. After we Yesterdays got out of the second

round – looking back now – I felt they exhaled just a little bit because they got over that hurdle, they reached the Sweet Sixteen. That has to be the difference, the change for next year.” It’s a little gap on paper, a couple small steps that remain, but like the third strike in baseball,

the fourth-and-one in football or the free throw in basketball, it can be all the difference in basketball. Staley intends to make sure every player understands the importance of traversing that distance next time they gather together.

14 • Spurs & Feathers

April 23, 2014

Sand volleyball inaugural season winds down by Mike kucharski

to win. Mortiz added that the opponents out what they can do outside of practice to they have seen multiple times have compli- continue to improve, even as far as planmented the team’s improvement throughout ning their summers around competitions to South Carolina sand volleyball head the season. stay sharp and get better. coach Moritz Moritz said that the inaugural “If we played somebody at the beginning Moritz said that he is able to see some season of sand volleyball has flown by for of the season and they didn’t think we were parallels in his program and the men’s and the team as they continue working to ima threat because we’re a year-one program, women’s basketball programs as both had prove every day. now they’re looking at us in a completely to go through some lean times to now see“It’s not even day-to-day, it’s almost different way that we have improved and ing the progress of each team. minute-to-minute. What did we learn at they do have to take us more seriously,” He explained that the other coaches at competition and how do we get that inMoritz explained. “The tough part for our South Carolina - particularly Dawn Staley volved? It’s the full spectrum of learning players for now is that we haven’t taken and Frank Martin - have been inspirations at every event what we need to get better that next step yet … they’re really ready to to him to continue taking the steps to imat for the next event,” Moritz said. “Every say that we need to win the close ones. prove. play it’s what do we need to get better for “We’re chipping away, we’re getting to “Every time I have the opportunity to the next play. Every weekend and tournathat stage where we’re a threat in every listen to coach Martin and coach Staley I ment we learn what we need to prepare for position. We’re gaining that respect, but I do. Obviously she’s had a ton of success, even thinking long term for next season. think the girls are really ready to make that but where did she start in year one? That It’s almost ‘how does everything we do in next jump,” Moritz continued. continues to be one of the huge motivating this moment reflect on our preparation for He added that his job is factors for me and somethe next year, the next moment or the next to keep the perspective that thing to keep perspective tournament?’” the players need to keepof,” Moritz commented. Moritz said that he personalizes the mes- ing improving daily so that “Ultimately I want this sage for each player to help them develop level will come with time. program to win a national throughout the season and for the future Moritz said there is still a championship and as a as well. He said he has seen improvement great amount of enthusicoach you want that to All Gamecock sand volleyball happen now, but you also from each player as the year has progressed asm around the team with coverage sponsored by as they gain experience, even if they have the players asking for extra understand that it has to James W. Smith Real Estate Co. happen over time. not won as many matches as they hoped reps and trying to figure

“So listening to coach Martin I know that is exactly where I’m at in my mentality … we need to keep working to develop players, keep developing and building the culture and the work ethic and everything that is going to be necessary. We’re going to continue to learn over time … the information that I process just by listening to the pantheon of coaches in this athletic department is reassuring because I know that we’re moving in the right direction,” Mortiz said. The Gamecocks will next display their team one final time at home against College of Charleston on Tuesday, April 22. “I just want our players to have had a good perspective on the entire season and I want their growth to reflect the through their play against College of Charleston. I want our fans to see that. I want our fans to see that there is a significant difference in where they are now then where we were that first weekend,” Mortiz said. “From my perspective the most important thing is that we learn, we get better and we improve and our effort needs to reflect everything that we’ve learned and improved on over the past two months and even the entire year.”

Gamecock legend Michael Roth attends Sweet Sixteen by mike kucharski

added. Pitching as a starter in Double-A this season, Roth said that there is always a chance that he STANFORD, Calif. - Fresh off finishing could advance up the ranks and even back to Spring Training, former South Carolina pitch- the Major Leagues, but he added no one knows ing great Michael Roth made an appearance how the season will play out. at the South Carolina-North Carolina NCAA Roth got to take in the game by sitting with Women’s Basketball Sweet Sixteen game. his former head baseball coach and current “Well I just finished Spring Training about South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner six, five hours ago, so I caught a flight out behind the Gamecocks’ bench. At halftime, here,” Roth said, checking his watch. “I wanted he joined Brad Muller on the Gamecock IMG to see my girlfriend, she’s here cheering the Sports Network’s radio broadcast of the Sweet Gamecocks on. I have about a day and a half Sixteen matchup before speaking with the off, so I figured that I would fly up and fly media. back. “It’s nice to be able to take a break. When “I’m going to start the year off at Double-A you’re on the road it gets kind of mind-numbLittle Rock, Arkansas. It’s the same spot that ing. You get kind of caught up, you’re away I started last year, so hopefully that’s a sign of from friends and family and familiar faces. It’s another kind of great to have a dose back into reality good year almost, to the normal that you were used to. It’s to come. a lot of fun and I hope it’s a mental refresher to I’m sure get the season started,” Roth said of his respite it will be before reporting back to his team. crazy, but Roth noted that the message that he would that’s the give to the Gamecock women’s basketball good part team would be to think of your teammates and All Gamecock baseball of this job try to not overhype the game. coverage sponsored by as well,” “I’d say remember who you’re playing for DiPrato’s Roth and playing with. As the year goes on, you’ll

remember big games and big championships, but really it’s about the relationships that you’ve made on the field,” Roth explained. “I remember more stupid stuff that I did in the dugouts and on the bus rides with my teammates and the special times with my teammates. That’s when you realize that you can take some of the pressure off of building this game up, that we need to advance to the Elite Eight or the Final Four. “You build these games up and put a ton of pressure on yourself, when really in the scheme of things it is just a game. That’s something that I deal with in my everyday job is trying to remember that it is just a game. So I would tell these girls to remember who you’re playing with; remember those ladies that you’re playing with all year long and play for your coaches,” Roth expounded. As far as watching the Gamecock women’s basketball team, Roth said that he was not able to keep up with many games because his job is a sport. He mentioned that he was proud of the Gamecock baseball team for having a great season and that he caught them taking the top spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays. He did say however that it was “awesome” to see the Gamecocks earn the No. 1 seed this year.

“I was watching the seeding when it all came out and it just shows how great the University of South Carolina is and how much work the whole athletic department is doing to get better as a whole. We don’t want to be just a football school or a baseball school. We want to be a great athletic school and I think we’re well on our way,” Roth commented.

Spurs & Feathers • 15

April 23, 2014

Martin, continued from page 6 see action in over half of the games. Out of the 11, only Williams is slated to leave the program. The continued development of these young players moving forward is what drives Martin and his coaching staff daily as the team moves in to offseason conditioning and individual workouts. “It’s a big part of what we do (coaching staff).” Martin commented. “It’s what we believe in, which is development. We’re all grassroots, our staff. We all started at the grassroots level. That means we’ve dealt with 16-year-old kids and we’ve had to teach them and help them get better. Whether it was coach (assistant coach Perry) Clark at DeMatha high school or me down in Miami or Figg (associate head coach Matt Figger) dealing with junior college guys, (assistant coach) Lamont (Evans) in AAU basketball, we all started our journey in places where you have to develop your players. You don’t get one-and-dones at the age of 16. You don’t get one-and-dones in junior college so you’ve got to develop them and that’s a big part of what we do. If you look at our history, all our players get better. “Scott Greenawalt (men’s basketball strength and conditioning coach), he’s our staff MVP every single year because of the time he puts in. Your strength coach the way the (NCAA) rules apply, your strength coach is who has got his hands on your athletes the most. Not the most during the season, but the ability to have his hands on them year-round … now we have to allow those 18-year-old kids to become 19 … physically that means a whole year of nutrition, a whole year of conditioning of weightlifting to become a better athlete, a strong athlete. All of those things go into play,” Martin remarked. Whether or not that means every single one of the freshman on the current Gamecock roster will have a breakout year next year remains to be seen. According to Martin everyone is different. “All of the kids are different,” Martin reiterated. “Some improve later. Some improve later rather than early. The one common denominator that I’ve found is the kids that really care, the ones that are fully committed to the process make tremendous jumps from freshman to sophomore years. The reason being that they understand how hard it is now and there is a greater appreciation for the amount of work they have to do to make themselves better athletes to become better players. “Because now, like in the spring and the summer, we don’t do any team stuff. Everything we do is geared to making individual players better from a coaching standpoint. That’s what we do. So they learn to work on their games. They understand, ‘I thought I was pretty good in high school; well, what I

do is not as good as it needs to be so I’ve got to get better. My left hand has to improve. My shooting has to improve.’ You know, all the little things that we have to help our players with,” Martin articulated. The Gamecocks have a long road ahead, but Martin knows that he, along with his coaching staff and team will be that much better going forward. Martin understands that lessons have abounded for him over his two seasons at the helm of the Gamecock men’s basketball program. To him patience has been the toughest part. “I always teach patience, but it’s very important that I live by it too,” Martin noted of the biggest lesson he’s learned since taking the South Carolina men’s basketball head gig. “Some people, they’re able to manage that (losing) easier, but at the end of the day if you’re a competitor the scoreboard is important to you,” Martin said. “I’ve got this saying, ‘if the score wasn’t important than schools wouldn’t invest as much as they do on their scoreboards.’ They would keep it with the little flip charts that you watch 9-and-under games with. So as a competitor you understand that. Dealing with losing a little more than winning has made me understand how to continue to separate the emotion of a game from the everyday approach and that’s something that is very important because when you lose games your players are getting beat up. They’re getting beat up publicly, they’re getting beat up by their friends, they’re getting beat up by their peers on campus, they’re getting beat up by their family, they’re getting beat up by social media so you can’t come in and be down on them too. You have to be able to come in and pick up their spirits and let them know that regardless of that score you’re in their corner. It’s been good. Going through all of this I know has been real good, I know for me. I don’t want to speak for our staff. It’s been frustrating at times, but it’s something that has been real healthy for us. “I’ve always respected winning. I understand the process. I understand how hard you have to work to win. I truly believe in life you get what you deserve. If you don’t put anything in, you’re not getting much in return. That’s why I’m demanding. That’s why I don’t ever lower expectations because I want everyone to invest as much as they can; as much as they possibly can so that we can all get as much as we can back. Nothing good ever comes easy. That can be a little cliché saying, but it’s the truth. It’s the absolute truth … it’s the value of work, reward. Not reward, then work. That’s what we’re going through right now. We’re putting in the work and when the reward comes we’re going to be ecstatic for the work that we put in and not just the reward that we’ve received,” Martin concluded.

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April 23, 2014

Staley happy to have national spotlight on South Carolina by brian hand South Carolina women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley was at the podium answering questions from the media just a few short hours after A’ja Wilson decided to attend the University of South Carolina. Before she even said a word her message was loud and clear to everyone in attendance for the press conference due to her attire as she was sporting a “there is no place like home” South Carolina women’s basketball t-shirt. A Columbia, S.C. native, Wilson, the nation’s No. 1 player, at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 16 made the announcement that she was going to join Staley and the Gamecocks in front of an electric crowd at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School. Once Wilson made the announcement live on ESPNU the crowd at Heathwood Hall went bonkers, but Staley said that was nothing compared to how loud the women’s basketball office was when Wilson called Staley to let her know she would be playing her college basketball at her hometown school. “She was on the phone for probably a straight just holding the phone for five minutes while we screamed at the top of our lungs and just jumped around,” Staley mused. “It was an awesome experience.” That the fact that the No. 1 player in the country just happened to be in the Columbia area is not lost on Staley. “Fortunately for us we had the No. 1 player in the country in our backyard,” Staley noted. “Did I like the fact that she dragged it all the way out until the last minute in hindsight? No. But looking at it, I think it was played out perfectly because it set the stage for us, the University of South Carolina, to get back into the national spotlight with her signing. “It goes to show that women’s basketball is relevant here and I think we’ve shown that over the past couple of years. Not just by winning because winning is a part of it, but we’ve put people in the stands, we’ve put people here in Colonial Life Arena. We have an administration that backs us. So when you have all of those things in your favor it’s a beautiful thing to have A’ja top it off by committing to us on national television and signing with us. It’s a great day for us.” The signing of Wilson concluded a signing class for South Carolina that ESPN ranked No. 2 in the country. ESPN dubbed the class simply “historic” as the Gamecocks brought in four five-star recruits (Wilson, Jatarie White, Kaydra Duckett and Bianca Cuevas) in addition to three-star recruit Doniyah Cliney. The influx of strong incoming talent coupled with the fact that the Gamecocks only lost one player off their 2013-14 SEC regular-season

photo by travis bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA

Dawn Staley celebrates the SEC regular season title for the Gamecocks earlier this year. championship team has many wondering just how Staley and her staff will find playing time for everyone. Staley is cognizant of this, but she feels that her current players and the incoming players know that sacrifices may have to be made to take South Carolina to its first women’s basketball national championship. “It’s a problem that we’ve never had and never experienced,” Staley said. “I think it’s going to be really important for us to do what

our players are talking about right now, which is winning national championships ... our incoming freshmen are talking about winning a national championship and sometimes through that process you have to make sacrifices and some of them will be sacrificing playing time. “I don’t know who, I don’t know when, I don’t know where, but obviously all the players that chose to come to South Carolina

wanted to win a national championship. It’s not on on their terms. Its on what a national championship team looks like and that is behavior, sacrifice, discipline. It’s going to take all those things,” Staley relayed. South Carolina’s national No. 2 recruiting ranking falls just behind UCLA, which picked up five five-star recruits. The situation is completely flipped for the Gamecocks though as UCLA ended last year 13-18 and could promise playing time immediately. South Carolina obtained the No. 2 class in the country and the No. 1 player in the prep ranks coming off a year in which they garnered a No. 1 seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. “If you look at the players we recruit, we try to recruit winners,” Staley remarked. “Obviously they have a certain talent that they bring to our program, but above all it’s winning. Obviously we’re pretty honest with who we’re recruiting. We recruit here’s our depth chart, here’s what you will be faced with. For us we allow our players to compete night in and night out for starting roles. “I think it’s our (coaching staff) job to piece all of that together and obviously they believe in the vision that we have for our program and we have young people who are believing it. They may not always like the choices you make for them, but at the end of the day what we’re doing is what’s best for them and our program because if we win, they all win; they all will share the spotlight and I’m just really happy that we’re able to piece all this together,” Staley continued. Staley also understands that these players are not just coming to be a part of her program as her coaching staff is second-to-none in the country. “These are players that we set out to sign years ago and for us to be able to check off pretty much everybody that we wanted is quite incredible,” Staley commented. “Big kudos to our coaching staff because they stay up late at night. We’ve got a new rule in which it’s unlimited texting so they’re always on the phone and they’re always texting and staying in contact with them and we got it done.” Season tickets for the Gamecock women’s basketball 2014-15 home slate are already on sale. Less than three hours after Wilson’s announcement over 30 season tickets had already been purchased. Just two days later that number had already increased to over 400 season ticketholders. To All Gamecock basketball purchase your coverage sponsored by own season tickYesterdays ets, please call 803-777-4274.

April 23, 2014

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18 • Spurs & Feathers

April 23, 2014

Gamecock football celebrates seniors, successes by mike kucharski

The South Carolina football program held a banquet in the Zone at Williams-Brice Stadium on Friday, April 11 to celebrate its successes and recognize the seniors and other players leaving early for the NFL Draft. The whole team, the honorees’ families, coaching and support staffs were in attendance along with Athletics Director Ray Tanner and Deputy Athletics Director Charles Waddell and special returning guest, Gamecock legend Marcus Lattimore. Head coach Steve Spurrier opened the ceremony joking that the senior banquet’s name should be changed to “when your eligibility is over we’ll celebrate what you did while you were here at South Carolina banquet.” The honorees from this season’s team were Kelcy Quarles, Jadeveon Clowney, Victor Hampton, Bruce Ellington, David Wilkins, Jimmy Legree, Chaz Sutton, Ronald Patrick and Connor Shaw. “These guys have created memories that will last a lifetime for all of us … what these players have accomplished is great. The winningest senior class in school history 42 wins in the last four years, last four years 26-2 at home and 18-straight - the longest home streak in the nation, top-10 threestraight years … top-25 every week they were in school here - 64-straight weeks, three straight New Years Day bowl wins and never lost to that upstate school,” Spurrier lauded the honored players. Spurrier then recognized all of the staff in attendance and gave a season review before introducing each of the nine players individually. Each player then came up and was recognized with their position coach and Spurrier in a special moment for them and their guests in attendance. Not in attendance were Quarles, Clowney and Legree, but Quarles’ parents were there to accept on his behalf. Following the presentations, each of the four captains, Sutton, Hampton (for Quarles), A.J. Cann and Shaw briefly addressed the guests. “I Just want to thank coach for just allowing me to be here as one of the senior leaders,” Sutton opened. “I’ve been a part of this team for five years to contribute to something that has been very, very special around here. It was so special to the fans and the people around the state to make South Carolina one of the best teams ever in its history and I just want to say that I’m proud to be a part of that.” “It’s great to be here and see all of the guys again,” Hampton said. “One of the best decisions I made was coming to South

Carolina. It’s been a great journey for me. I made a lot of memories and learned a lot about myself. It has been a great growing experience … I appreciate coach Spurrier and coach (Lorenzo) Ward for recruiting me here and giving me an opportunity to play.” “I just want to wish all of the guys that are leaving good luck with their futures. I’m actually coming back next year to help this team make more history, but again I just want to wish all of these guys good luck and thank you guys,” Cann said. “First off I just want to thank all of my teammates. I can’t describe how much I’ll miss going to war with all you guys every Saturday,” Shaw said. “Our team camaraderie has grown every year just exponentially.” Shaw then thanked the team chaplain, quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus, Spurrier and coach’s wife, Jerri Spurrier. He even presented Mrs. Spurrier with a special gift from the whole team to recognize how much she means to all of the players. Each of the captains that spoke also addressed the younger players in the room and urged them to continue the hard work that has created the recent successes the program has seen. Hampton said that they need to keep the win streaks going, saying “I don’t want to see y’all lose to Clemson anytime soon.” The final presentation of the evening was the Legends Award, a new award that was created the previous year and won by Stephon Gilmore. Spurrier said the award goes to a player who was previously in the program and contributed greatly to the success of South Carolina football. The Legends Award this year went to Lattimore, who accepted the honor and spoke to the group. “Thank you to everybody. It’s been a rough road … but I got through it because of all of you guys; because of the support from my teammates, my coaches and all the parents and of course, God,” Lattimore said. “To get this award is amazing. To be considered a legend coming through South Carolina, I just never thought that would happen. “I’m just so blessed to be a part of the Gamecock family and I consider everybody in here my family. So thank you all and I appreciate it,” Lattimore added. Spurrier then thanked Lattimore and said his legacy lives on in the players in the program today. He closed by inviting all the former players and their families to remain a part of the Gamecock family. “You do your part, the players and coaches, we’ll try to do our part and maybe we can even go on to some bigger things. We’re going to keep pushing to try and do some things that have never been done here before,” Spurrier concluded.

all photos by mike kucharski

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April 23, 2014

Once a Gamecock, always a Gamecock: NFL Gamecocks return by brian hand

Athlete Development Andre Goodman. All of the former Gamecocks that were in attendance are extremely excited about the curFormer South Carolina All-American and rent state of Gamecock football. current Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Part of the two Outback Bowl wins in the Jeffery put together a Pro Bowl season last year early 2000s, Wharton is pleased with the conin the National Football League, but he knows sistency of the South Carolina football program without his time as a Gamecock he would not over the recent years. be where he is now. “I’m so proud of those guys (current GameIn fact, he takes a great deal of pride in becocks),” Wharton noted. “I consider those guys ing a Gamecock. So much so that in addition my little brother. Just what they’ve been able to to boasting about the gridiron exploits of the do; put South Carolina on the map, every year Gamecocks, Jeffery was openly talking to in the top-10 finishes and winning the bowl South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner games and people are talking about our football and Special Assistant to Development Clyde program.” Wrenn about the success of the South Carolina Wharton knows that the continued upward women’s baksetball team this past season. trajectory is great for the Gamecock brand in Jeffery’s passion for the Gamecocks was also the NFL. held by the grouping of other South Carolina “You just look around, the atmosphere of colcurrent NFL players in attendance for a spring lege and Carolina’s in the conversation every reception on Friday, March 21 at Seawell’s in time. Every week they’re in the conversation Columbia, S.C. of being one of the best programs,” Wharton In addition to Jeffery the grouping of NFL mused. “That’s exciting, especially in the NFL Gamecocks included NFL free agent offensive locker room. That’s bragging rights, wearing lineman Hutch Eckerson, San Diego Chargers your Carolina gear, so that’s great.” Byron Jerideau (defensive tackle) and Melvin Those bragging rights in the NFL is one of the Ingram (linebacker), Seattle Seahawks center reasons Wrenn and Goodman worked so hard Lemuel Jeanpierre, Carolina Panthers offensive to bring the current crop of Gamecocks in the lineman Travelle Wharton and Detroit Lions NFL back to Columbia for fellowship and to defensive end Devin Taylor. check out spring practice. They were joined at the special event by South “It formulated because we’ve been doing Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier, different things,” Wrenn remarked. “We tried former South Carolina quarterback and current the baseball – with the minor and major league football play-by-play voice Todd Ellis and forbaseball players – and we wanted to do the same mer Gamecock and NFL cornerback and pres- thing with football and this is just ones that are ent South Carolina Director of Football Student- on an active roster or have been.”

Goodman was a part of of the South Carolina football program in the late 1990s, early 2000s. Goodman, who played for the Detroit Lions (2002-05), the Miami Dolphins (2006-08) and the Denver Broncos (2009-11), thinks that having so many Gamecocks presently in the NFL helps the current crop of Gamecock football players. “It speaks to the growth of the program and where we always wanted it to be and that these guys want to be back is always a great thing, but the motivation for having these guys back is so that the current players on the Gamecock roster see what it looks like to be an NFL professional,” Goodman commented. “My job in player development is always about growing them into professionals. “This was the building block for what we hope to become an annual event … obviously there is a process to it and we’re trying to build a stronger tradition within our organization. Whatever we’re able to do today was progress,” Goodman continued. Ellis broke it down simply to the NFL Gamecocks of why it was so important for them to be there by simply saying “no matter where, no matter what you do in your career in athletics or otherwise, the University of South Carolina will be your home. I promise you that for the rest of your lives.” A big proponent of making sure that all former South Carolina student-athletes feel at home in Columbia, Tanner reiterated Ellis’ thoughts and thanked the NFL players for what they’ve done for the University of South Carolina and the Gamecock football program.

photo by brian hand

“You put your roots down here and a lot of the success that we’re enjoying today is because the investment you guys have made for many, many years … it doesn’t just happen all of the sudden. It takes time and you guys helped us to get where we are today and it’s a tremendous challenge to sustain the great success that we’ve had … this is your school. You’re welcome, any time, any day, any way. So please understand that. I love it when former student-athletes come back and get a chance to reflect.” South Carolina being their school means that they are also able to speak on things such as the five straight wins over Clemson. In addition to just overall pride in being a Gamecock, Wharton, a native of Fountain Inn, S.C., takes particular pride in the recent domination of rival Clemson. “I love it,” Wharton said. “I’m from the Upstate of South Carolina. I’ve got a lot of friends that love Clemson.” A part of a few of those five consecutive wins, Ingram took it one step further, articulating confidently about the winning streak: “it’s probably never going to end.” Once a Gamecock, always a Gamecock.

Frank and Anya Martin to host Second Annual Coaches Versus Cancer Benefit on May 2 South Carolina Athletics Media RElations University of South Carolina head men’s basketball coach Frank Martin and his wife Anya are set to host “The Second Annual B-Ball of the South,” the couple’s “Coaches vs. Cancer” benefit, on Friday, May 2, at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia. Proceeds from the event will go to “Coaches vs. Cancer,” a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). Several celebrity coaches are slated to attend to support the cause. The event, a Kentucky Derby style ball, will begin at 7 p.m. and will feature a live auction, heavy hors-d’oeuvres and dancing. Reservations are limited with individual tickets costing $100 and reserved tables

(seats 10) available for $2,500. For tickets please contact Carey Fissel (, 704-553-5361) with the American Cancer Society. About Coaches vs. Cancer: Coaches vs. Cancer is a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. The initiative leverages the personal experiences, community leadership, and professional excellence of basketball coaches nationwide to create a world with less cancer and more birthdays. Coaches vs. Cancer provides critical mission outreach while raising funds in support of the Society’s lifesaving efforts. Since 1993, coaches have raised over $80 million to support the American Cancer Society’s fight against cancer.


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April 23, 2014

South Carolina athletics gives back in Greenville by mike kucharski

of the Gamecock Club Fan Fest stops, so we look at it as a way to give back to the communities in the state that bears our name, the University of South Carolina,” Bloom continued. Assistant Gamecock Director Club Jay Brown helped to set up the opportunity this year in Greenville. Brown said that fellow Assistant Gamecock Club Director Wayne Hiott set up last year’s event in Charleston. “We chose Harvest Hope after I talked with someone who works for Hands On Greenville, which places volunteer groups with organizations,” Brown commented. “We have a unique situation because we have about 30 people for about four hours, so we can’t really get into building a house or something like that. There are only certain projects that fit for this group, so she directed me to Harvest Hope. “We’ve worked with (Harvest Hope Volunteer Coordinator) Ashley Cox here and it worked out perfectly. We’ve got 20 people working on one project and 10 or 11 working on another project, so it just works out perfectly for the time frame especially,” Brown said. Cox set the volunteers about on projects of Consumer Supplement Food Program (CSFP) and Food Recovery. The CSFP, also known as “senior boxes” goes out to senior citizens in the area with recipients determined by the Department of Social Services to help feed the elderly population of Greenville. The program

goes out monthly with a varying menu, but the Gamecock volunteers packed April’s boxes with cereal, juice, mixed fruit and vegetable cans, canned spinach, beef stew, powdered milk and rice in assembly-line style. The Food Recovery group of about 10-12 volunteers went through the donated goods to determine what would be useable. Expiration dates were checked with many other criteria on the state of the packaged food to be inspected as well. Cox said that the Gamecock volunteers were extremely helpful for the cause in helping Harvest Hope to serve the local community. She noted that the group completed packing 900 “senior boxes” and went through a “huge amount” of products with the Food Recovery program. “It is a lot of help because all 975 boxes have to go out before the 14th, which is next Monday. We had about 50 packed before they came, so it’s a big impact to have this group come in and help,” Cox remarked. “The more work that volunteers do, the less that we have to do as employees, so it saves the organization weekend hours, extra utility bills with the building being open longer, overtime hours and different things like that. “So it ends up being more money that we can spend on food and helping the community. Every year through our different locations we

ing everything possible to try to reach out to former players in all sports which is a great thing because there is a lot of nostalAt the SEC men’s basketball tournament gia that goes back for years in all the sports. in Atlanta, Ga. former South Carolina and “There is a lot of fan support still - even NBA standout Gary Gregor was recognized at my age - and fans who say ‘I remember by the SEC as a member of the 2014 Allwhen you played.’ I joke that they must state Basketball Legends team. be older than dirt if they remember that,” Gregor was honored at halftime of South Gregor added. Carolina’s game with Auburn on March 12. Gregor credits his time at South Carolina He was inducted into the South Carolina for preparing him to play professionally, Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003 and played which he did for the Phoenix Suns who for the Gamecocks in 1965 and 1967-1968. drafted him and where he earned NBA South Carolina was a member of the ACC All-Rookie recognition. He also played for during Gregor’s playing days and he led the Atlanta Hawks, the Portland Trail Blazthe conference in rebounding and earned ers and the Milwaukee Bucks and for the all-conference honors in 1967 and 1968. He ABA’s New York Nets. averaged 15.6 points and 12.6 rebounds per “I think playing with the players I did and game during his collegiate career and beplaying in the ACC at the time definitely came a first-round draft pick after college. helped me to prepare to play at the next Gregor said he felt it was a little ironic level,” Gregor remarked. “When I was a that he was selected as an SEC legend when freshman I came to school and was 6’5” he played in the ACC, but added “it is a and weighed 195 pounds and a year later great honor nonetheless.” I was 6’5” and weighed 235. I think coach “I think it’s an honor that I was selected. (Chuck) Noe and his staff … developed It was a very, very enjoyable weekend,” me to the point to where I could play in the Gregor commented. “The University is do- ACC and be a factor.”

When asked of his favorite memories in Garnet and Black, Gregor said that it was hard to select because there were so many times he could say were his favorite from his playing days. “I think my senior year, we went up and beat Duke at Duke on a Tuesday, then went over on Friday night and beat North Carolina at North Carolina. That was something that had never been done before,” Gregor said. “To sweep the two big schools up north was a very, very memorable experience because it hadn’t been done before. “It also kind of set the stage for what was coming behind us. We finished second and third in my junior and senior years in the conference. That was the highest it had been in a long time. I played with a lot of great players, I really did,” Gregor continued. Gregor said that the highlight of his trip to the SEC tournament was not only seeing some old friends, but also being able to support head coach Frank Martin and the Gamecock basketball team. “It was a wonderful trip and we were treated very, very well. The SEC has a won-

Some of the senior staff in the South Carolina athletic department took time on Monday, April 7 to reach out to the community through a service project in Greenvillle, S.C. in coordination with the Gamecock Club Fan Fest event. The Fan Fest at Fluor Field was postponed due to inclement weather until April 29 at the same location, but the Gamecock representatives followed through on their commitment by volunteering at the Harvest Hope Food Bank in Greenville. This is the second-consecutive year that the South Carolina athletics’ staff has done a community service project in concert with the Fan Fest. Last year they volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House in Charleston, S.C. “When we first started talking about the Fan Fests and going around the state, one of the things that we wanted to do was to create a stronger bond with the communities around the state,” Senior Associate AD for External Affairs Charles Bloom explained. “We felt that coming in and doing a community service project in the cities that we go to would be a good foundation. “We did Charleston last year and Greenville this year. The goal is to do one per year at one

photo by mike kucharski

Former NFL player/current South Carolina Director of Football Development Andre Goodman pulling a pallet of packaged “senior boxes” at the Harvest Hope Food Bank. get about 8,000 volunteers that work about 72,000 hours which saves us over $1 million every year,” Cox expounded. Brown and all the volunteers were pleased with their efforts after the event, which made for a successful experience in reaching out to a community and giving back to the state that supports the University. “I think this went very well. if the weather had cooperated a little more with the Fan Fest tonight, that would have been ideal, but everybody is glad to have been here and everybody is happy to help do what we can,” Brown concluded.

Gamecock great Gary Gregor honored by SEC by mike kucharski

derful tournament, they take care of their invited guests very well and I got to see some people that I hadn’t seen for awhile that were there. It was a great weekend and the best thing of all was that we won two ball games,” Gregor said.

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April 23, 2014

Waters assists in creating Gamecocks’ home-field advantages by mike kucharski When fans are enjoying a South Carolina Athletics event, it is likely that marketing director Josh Waters and his staff are working hard behind the scenes to ensure a positive fan experience. One of the biggest points of pride for the the sports marketing department this season has been across-the-board increases in attendance for every sport this year. “We as a department put plans together and this year every ticketed sport that we have saw an increase in ticketed sales and average attendance. I don’t know if there is another school in the country that can say that, so we’re really excited about that,” Waters proclaimed. “When numbers go up, when we put all of our tools to use, it really works well and that makes us happy.” The marketing department handles the scripting for Gamecock games with Waters handling football, men’s basketball and baseball while overseeing the staff that works with the other sports. The scripts involve activities during breaks in action from fan promotions, cheerleaders’ and dance teams’ performances to advertisements and anything else that goes on during timeouts or breaks. “I don’t write the scripts for the other spots, but I see them and serve as a proofreader, double- and triple-checking … I work closely with IMG and it’s a process … it’s planning it out. We ready PA’s and plan in out. We know how long timeouts are and figure out ‘can do everything in a timeout or do we need to move something?’” Waters explained. “Football PA copy is about 45 to 50 pages every game, so it’s a lot. We’re already planning out next year’s halftimes as well. “What game are we going to honor our military, what game are we going to salute our first responders, when are we going to honor our student-athletes, what game is the Gamecock Club game? So it’s a lot of planning and you have to be very organized and on top of things, but it’s a lot of fun,” Waters said. Waters said that the idea is to keep the fans involved with the sole goal of giving the Gamecock student-athletes the best homecourt or home-field advantage that they can have. He noted that the coaches are great to work with and are appreciative of their efforts which is wonderful to garner their support. Community involvement is a cause that is important to Waters and the marketing department as they have done Operation Hat Trick, honored the military and first responders and have made a concerted effort to reach out to get the city and state involved in South Carolina Athletics. “We love doing that; we love being active.

the fly to keep the fans involved. He added the goal is to try and build off or create momentum for the Gamecocks to enhance the advantage for the student-athletes. As far as his background, Waters has worked in sports marketing for 10 years at three different universities and he has always been around athletics. “My background when I graduated college was that I was an athletic trainer. I had been a trainer through college. I went and worked in the NFL for a couple of years, went back to graduate school at Mississippi State and served as Sylvester Croom’s football trainer there,” Waters said of his background. “In the back of my mind I always had maybe the goal of being an athletic director - I still don’t know about that - but it’s really hard from the athletic trainer’s chair. So after getting my master’s I decided to go more toward the administrative side. “I actually took a position at Vanderbilt working for (current South Carolina associate athletics director for marketing) Eric Nichols there and we’ve worked together for almost eight years now. I did a lot more of the group sales there,” Waters said. After getting the Commodores to the point that football, basketball and baseball games were selling out, Waters left to take a similar position at Indiana University for almost two years until a position at South Carolina came open. Waters, a North Carolina native, loves the south and said he jumped at the opportunity to be reunited with Nichols and work for the Gamecocks. Waters has now been at South Carolina for five years and said that he loves his position. “It’s a great place to be. The leadership that we have with coach (Ray) Tanner is amazing. He lets us do our jobs and it’s great … I love it here. We’ve got great coaches and great support. We use the phrase ‘it’s great to be a submitted photo Gamecock’ and it really is a great time to be Marketing Director Josh Waters, left, is pictured with Brig. Gen. Bradley Becker of Fort Jackson. a Gamecock right now,” Waters commented. We take our coaches out to speak to a lot of groups, not that we want anything in return, but just to have them talk to a group,” Waters said. “We love community involvement. The first responders, those ladies and gentlemen keep us safe at every game, so we love getting to recognize them and give them a small token of appreciation. We’re the University of South Carolina, so we love doing things for the city and state because we are the University.” Waters can usually be seen with a headset during games keeping in contact with the video board crew, the band, cheerleaders and dancers, on-field staff and others. He said that he gets to enjoy the games some, but there is a lot of work and adjustment on

22 • Spurs & Feathers

April 23, 2014

Meet A’ja Wilson - nation’s top recruit, newest Gamecock by mike kucharski “I will be attending the University of South Carolina.” That short sentence uttered by Columbia, S.C. native A’ja Wilson at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School made Gamecock fans go wild as the nation’s top women’s basketball recruit committed to South Carolina to play her collegiate basketball. ESPN women’s basketball analyst Debbie Antonelli said on local sports radio show Reynolds & Gunter that the Gamecocks getting Wilson is the equivalent of when Jadeveon Clowney signed with the South Carolina football team. The commitment was celebrated in the president’s office at the University and head coach Dawn Staley simply tweeted “BOOM.” The celebration began for Gamecock fans across the state and nation as an already deep recruiting class got even stronger - going from fourth nationally to second with the addition of Wilson. “They’re a program on the rise and I would love to be a part of it,” Wilson said to the media following the announcement while wearing a “there’s no place like home” Gamecock women’s basketball t-shirt. “My goal is to win a national championship. I’m not going to put a date on it, but that’s the goal. I think we can do that at South Carolina.” Wilson handled herself with composure in the situation with so much hype at her announcement likely because there was plenty of hype every time she took the court as a senior at Heathwood Hall playing in front of press, scouts and numerous fans in attendance; not to mention the 30-foot banner of herself. There were countless media outlets as the announcement was aired live on ESPNU on April 16. Wilson said that she did not worry about the the extra eyeballs or exposure during her senior season, but focused on helping Heathwood Hall win a state title, a goal that she was able to accomplish. She said that her past experiences with AAU have made her accustomed to all the scouting. “AAU kind of helped me to block out the crowd and scouts because there are just a lot of college coaches all around. I’m not saying that I don’t pay them any mind, but really it doesn’t really affect me. My main goal was just giving back to the school because they’ve helped me so much,” Wilson commented. Heathwood Hall’s head coach All Gamecock basketball John O’Cain said coverage sponsored by Yesterdays that Wilson did not let any of the hype

affect her play and remained a great leader on the state champions. “I guess we’re kind of used to it because it has been like this since her freshman year. It’s kind of a given that there were going to be colleges at every game … A’ja is so laid back that she didn’t get all caught up in it. It wasn’t a distraction, that’s for sure,” O’Cain said. “Without a doubt she has a team attitude. She’s a superstar without the superstar mentality; very teamoriented.” Wilson has also had the opportunity to play with Team USA basketball and won a gold medal in 2013 at the FIBA U19 World Championships. She said that the experience with team USA was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and was something that she tried to bring back to Heathwood Hall. “It’s amazing being with Team USA. It’s the experience of a lifetime and I encourage anyone who can get a chance to play international ball for USA to do it. It’s such an honor; just wearing USA on my shirt. It was just an honor,” Wilson recalled. “Going there for trial, waiting for your name to be called, it’s just an experience of a lifetime. I really enjoyed it and it was just amazing. “Here when I stepped out on the court I imagined that we’re playing France, I imagined that we’re playing all of the teams that we played overseas and it’s just bringing back the drills and experiences. We had to carry these ‘sticks of toughness’ and put them ‘together tough’ as our motto. I brought that here and we made ‘believe sticks’ and we put them in a bundle that we believe together that we’re going to make it to the top. So I brought back a lot - whether it’s off the court stuff, on the court stuff, conditioning stuff or whatever. It has really helped me out a lot and I brought a lot from USA basketball here,” Wilson continued. The team believed together and was able to win the state title, something they had not been able to do before in Wilson’s career. O’Cain added that she was like an extra coach on the floor after playing for him for five seasons and he lauded her understanding of the game and leadership abilities. Wilson said that she knows leadership and basketball knowledge will be key at the next level. “In college the coaches expect you to know that if they tell you something they expect you to do it right away so I would kind of tell the team what’s happening. You can ask my teammates, sometimes we would just think ahead to what practice was going to be like and we’d just nail it because we know what is coming. I know it took a lot off of coach also because he didn’t have to yell as much so he can keep his voice. Sometimes of course he is going to yell and I just carry it to the team. So that was my mentality is to do that,” Wilson explained. Wilson measures at 6’5” and averaged 35 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks, three steals

and two assists per game in her senior season. She does a little bit of everything and displays versatility on the court, but says that her favorite position is at the wing. “I love the three position. If the game gives me a shorter girl guarding me I will take her down in the post, but if there is a taller girl guarding me I will take her out to the wing. So I think three is the best spot where I can be the most affective,” Wilson said. Wilson did say that she does not worry about what position she will play for the Gamecocks, rather she just wants to be a part of a great team. Heathwood Hall assistant coach Jerome Dickerson compared her play to that of LeBron James, saying she has a pass-first mentality, but can score in bunches when needed. Wilson said that she has another model for her game that she has admired growing up. “I love Candace Parker. Candace Parker is my role model and I met her down in Tennessee. It’s just amazing to meet your role model down there. So really she is the person that I model my game after on and off the court because she is such a great person both off the court and on the court,” Wilson noted. As far as the next level goes, Wilson was recruited by most every major program in the nation but she narrowed her final four down to Connecticut, North Carolina, Tennessee and South Carolina. She took official visits to each school and said that she enjoyed each one, but in the end she chose to stay close to home to be a part of Staley’s program that is on the rise after winning the SEC regular-season championship and earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. “So much happened at once on the visits and you have to take it all in. Every visit was just great and they were phenomenal with each school,” Wilson commented. “It’s great and it’s a blessing just to be in that position to just go in there and actually see how it is. I had home visits and being able to see the coaches off the court is great, but really actually being on campus, seeing the student life, the people around you and the crowds, it has just been eye opening and a lot of fun. “I know that my parents had a lot of fun too. I had a lot of fun with the teammates hanging out off the court, seeing what they think about the team, what’s the good and the bad and ‘don’t just tell me this because you want me to come here’ kind of thing. So it was a lot of fun,” Wilson continued. Wilson said that she enjoyed meeting Hall of Famer and Gamecock women’s basketball head coach Staley and enjoyed the atmosphere at the game for her official visit (78-62 win over Missouri on Feb. 2). Despite enjoying the recruiting process, Wilson said that she completely focused on this past high school season and did not begin to think about the recruiting process again until

photo by bill cherry of heathwood hall

the year was completed. After the season was done, the fans of all her prospective schools waited another month and a half for her announcement on April 16. Throughout it all, Wilson managed to stay grounded, keep her goals in mind and think about those that have helped her along the way. “I want to play professionally as the main goal. I want to win a gold medal and be an Olympian so I’m going to just take it to every level there is and help a lot of people around me. Really just giving back is my main goal. I just want to give back so much because so many people give so many things to me to help me get to where I am and where I want to go, so I just want to give back to them,” Wilson concluded. Staley and the Gamecocks will try to help her accomplish her career goals, while shooting for the newest goal of bringing an NCAA women’s basketball championship to the University of South Carolina. One thing is sure, the Gamecock women’s basketball program will continue to be a player on the national stage with the experience returning and the glut of talented freshmen joining the team.

Spurs & Feathers • 23

April 23, 2014

Successful 2014 Golf Classic for Spartanburg chapter by mike kucharski In its first attempt at hosting a golf tournament, the Spartanburg County Gamecock Club saw great success with the 2014 Golf Classic at Woodfin Ridge Golf Club on Saturday, April 5. From the enjoyment and achievement of the 2014 Golf Classic, chapter president Glenn Cox stated that the chapter would try to make this an annual event to be hosted around the same time every year. “We had 17 teams in our first year, which was 68 players. Even the golf club, Woodfin Ridge, said that was a good turnout,” Cox said. “It was a great success. The weather was in the mid-70s, it was sunny and everybody had a great time. It was a big success considering it was our first year. We kind of tried to do it by trial and error and we have a lot to build on for the future.” In attendance were Gamecock celebrities Cocky and Gamecock Club executive director Patrick McFarland. Cox said it was nice to have them out supporting the tournament and noted that there were even

a few non-Gamecocks that played and contributed to the fundraiser tournament. “We even had a couple of Clemson fans and a couple of Florida fans play in it as well. We mixed them in with the other teams. They’re friends with some of the Gamecock people around,” Cox explained. “When they put their bags with us they caught a lot of grief, but it was nice of them to contribute. I know that some of our Gamecock fans play in their events too. “There was even one (Ohio State) Buckeye fan in the group. He just wanted to get out and play with his buddies because it was sunny and he’s not used to the sun being from up there,” Cox added with a laugh. The funds raised by the tournament are going to the Gamecock Club and toward some of the costs for the chapter. Cox credited the chapter’s board members for their work in planning to make sure that the event was successful and he also was grateful for wonderful weather the day of the event. “It was a great turn out for our first year. It will become an annual event; a lot of people said that they enjoyed it and wanted

Lancaster county chapter presents gift to women’s tennis by mike kucharski Some special Gamecock fans were in attendance for the South Carolina women’s tennis 4-0 victory over Arkansas on March 30. The Lancaster County Gamecock Club board members and fans came to take in the match and also present a contribution to the women’s tennis team. The chapter raised $1,000 to donate to the women’s tennis program and chapter president Joe Grier said it was a great experience to watch the match and present the check. “We went down there to present because they couldn’t come to the Spring Meeting since they were down in Mississippi (for matches against Ole Miss and Mississippi State). We had seven board members and about 25 of us all together who went down to watch them play Arkansas,” Grier said. “It was a good time and a lot of fun to see them be able to get the win. “They had to go back to the match since we did it at intermission, so we didn’t get too much time with them. We all had a good time down there and enjoyed it though and we were just glad to do what we could to help the program,” Grier added. Women’s tennis head coach Kevin Epley said

that he was incredibly pleased and appreciative of the donation from the Lancaster County chapter and the Gamecock Club in general. “It was a giant surprise to find out that the Lancaster County Gamecock Club had raised $1,000 for the women’s tennis program. We are extremely appreciative that there is proactivity within the community to support all of the athletics programs,” Epley commented. “There is a lot of pride for the University of South Carolina amongst alumni and supporters all over the state - we wouldn’t be anywhere without the continued efforts to support our teams. “With the funds the Lancaster County Gamecock Club raised, we are hoping to purchase much needed fitness equipment in our newly renovated tennis center, which will not only help our student athletes remain competitive nationally but will give us a strategic edge in terms of recruiting,” Epley continued.

submitted photos

it to continue. Everybody just had a really good time. We had a lot of nice compliments and a lot of fun times. We didn’t hear a single bad thing about it,” Cox concluded.

To find out more about the Spartanburg County Gamecock Club, you can like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter as @upstategamecock. You can also email the chapter at

24 • Spurs & Feathers

April 23, 2014

South Carolina Gamecocks

Recruiting Round-up By Phil Kornblut

USC is one of the recent offers for QB Lorenzo Nunez of Kennesaw, GA and he visited last Saturday for the spring game. He also has offers from Clemson, Tennessee, Miami, NC State, Arizona State and Ohio State. Nunez talks regularly with Gamecock recruiter GA Mangus and knows he and Brandon Wimbush of New Jersey are USC’s two quarterback targets. “I’d have a pretty good shot at starting at South Carolina by my sophomore year,” Nunez said. He attended Clemson’s junior day in February. Nunez said there is no favorite and he is planning to make his decision after his spring practice which commences in three weeks. He plans to visit as many of his favorites as he can to determine which will provide him what he’s looking for in a college and a football program. “Education always,” Nunez said. “How me and the coaching staff get along and how I like the school outside of football.” Nunez was named the top quarterback in a recent combine in Charlotte. Last season he passed for 1,148 yards and 5 touchdowns and rushed for 786 yards and 7 touchdowns. RB Ty’son Williams of Crestwood is emerging as a national prospect as his offer list grows. Notre Dame recently offered Williams who also can count USC, Clemson, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Georgia, NC State, Duke and Georgia Tech on his offer sheet. Last Saturday Williams attended USC’s spring game, his second visit to Columbia in the last three weeks. “It was a good visit, I enjoyed it,” Williams said. “I just watched the game and then went into the locker room. I talked with coach Sands and he was just telling me about getting back up there. I liked how they used their running game.” Williams also has visited Clemson and Georgia and has no future visits planned. He also has no favorites right now. As for the in-state schools however, Williams does have a lean to the Gamecocks. “They are two good schools and I like them, but I like USC more than Clemson,” he said. “I’ve been down there more times and I’ve been bonding with their coaches a lot, communicating with them.” Williams will begin his spring practice on May 5th. OL Zack Bailey of Summerville passed on several spring game invitations for last Saturday to spend his spring break with family in Florida. USC, Clemson, Georgia, Auburn and Southern Cal are some of the schools that encouraged Bailey to visit. “I’m just taking recruiting slowly and am getting ready for spring ball that starts in May,” he said. Bailey did say he has a list of favorites in no particu-

lar order: Clemson, USC, Georgia, Auburn, Alabama and Oregon. This summer he plans to attend camps at USC and Clemson. TE Jackson Harris of Columbia, TN now has 35 offers but he has cut that to a top ten of USC, Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Florida State, Penn State, Purdue, Vanderbilt and Ohio State. Harris was at Georgia Saturday and might visit Alabama this weekend. He’s also been to Florida, Alabama and Vanderbilt this spring. He visited Clemson last season and plans to return this summer when he will also visit USC for the first time. Harris has been in recent contact with the Phil Kornblut Gamecocks. “I’ve talked Contributing with coach Spurrier and Writer coach Spurrier Jr.,” he said. “I talked to coach Spurrier about a week ago. He said I’m what they are looking for at tight end and would be a good fit. He wants me to come see the campus.” USC signed DE Devante Covington (6-3 230) in 2013 but he failed to make the grades to qualify and enrolled at Georgia Military JC. Last season he totaled 17 tackles with 1 sack. Covington has another season to spend at Georgia Military and will graduate next May. After that, according to his coach, he appears headed to USC. “He’s working hard and gaining weight,” coach Bert Williams said. “His grades are doing pretty good and he’s making the progress he needs. South Carolina is still in touch, they are still on board. Several other schools are exhibiting interest but he’s not interested. There’s a good likelihood he will re-sign barring any change.” Covington is from Rockingham, NC and played in the Shrine Bowl in 2013. He actually committed to USC in April of 2012. He also had offers from Clemson, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, NC State and East Carolina. Assuming everything progresses as planned, Covington would have three years to play two at USC. OL Shane Lemieux of Yakima, WA is gearing up for his spring practice in a few weeks. Lemieux visited USC last month and gave the coaches a commitment though he won’t make it official and final until his mother and stepfather visit. And that visit won’t be until late July. “I’m still a Gamecock,” Lemieux said. “I’ve talked to coach Elliott pretty much every single day. My mom is real excited for me

but she wants to get down there.” Lemieux continues to hear from other schools despite his public position on the Gamecocks and will take some visits in the coming weeks. “I’m talking to Oregon a lot and they want me to get down there for another visit and see the academics,” he said. “Arkansas is showing strong interest. You owe it to yourself to see every single school and make sure South Carolina is No. 1 and you don’t look back.” Lemieux visited Boise State over the weekend and will go to Arizona and Arizona State this weekend. But his plan is to play in Columbia. “I’ll make my official commitment in July,” he said. “I’ve told the coaches I’m a loyal guy. But they understood. They want to meet my mom.” Lemieux’s father lives in Lancaster and is in regular contact with Elliott at USC. USC is targeting another major offensive line talent in Georgia in Brandon Sandifer (6-3 326) of Warner Robins. In fact, the Gamecocks and Alabama are in the lead for Sandifer at this point according to his coach. “Alabama and South Carolina are the two he’s leaning towards,” coach Kevin Kinsler said. “He’s been to South Carolina twice and he’s been to Alabama a couple of times. They are the two he’s most interested in. Alabama has been on him since the 10th grade. And Ohio State wants him to visit and he has talked to them.” Sandifer’s last visit to USC was for their recent junior day. Sandifer holds offers from USC, Alabama, Florida, Cincinnati, Ohio State and Mississippi State. Sandifer will be a three year starter this season and has excellent skills according to his coach. “His run blocking skills are good,” Kinsler said. “He has a good punch and a good first step. He’s worked hard on keeping a low, flat back and rolling his hips. When locks on, people stick to him. And he does a good job in pass protection.” Sandifer is also a basketball player. Things may be heating up between WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside of Dorman and Wake Forest. The rising senior visited the Demon Deacons Tuesday and is calling them his leader. “They’re really pursuing me and I’m liking them more and more,” Arcega-Whiteside said. While there, he had an opportunity to attend a spring practice, meet with players and go to a team meeting. “It went really well,” he said. “I would definitely say they’re my favorite right now.” He attended USC’s spring game last Saturday. Wake Forest, Furman, Elon, Old Dominion, James Madison, Appalachian State and Charlotte are his current offers. After visiting LSU earlier this month, OL Zach Giella of Augusta has the Tigers as

his new leader. Though LSU has jumped out front, Giella will still consider USC. “I still like the Gamecocks a lot and I’m not dismissing them by any means,” he said. “They will definitely get a fair shake.” Giella was at Georgia Saturday and this weekend he heads to Mississippi State and Ole Miss. He will go to Kentucky the next weekend. DE Clelin Ferrell of Richmond has cut his list to 11 and USC is on the short list. Also on his list are Clemson, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Virginia Tech. He was at Clemson’s spring game Saturday. TE Kyle Markway of St. Louis visited USC for the spring game. The Gamecocks have offered along with Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Western Kentucky. Florida Atlantic commit RB Jordan Scarlett of Fort Lauderdale remains in touch with the Gamecock coaching staff and has expressed interest in the program. “I like the way they run the ball and they’re doing good things in the SEC,” Scarlett said. “My old teammate Skai Moore is there and has told me what a family atmosphere they have.” Wisconsin is the only other out-of-state visit that Scarlett has planned. He also wants to visit Central Florida. His offers are from USC, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Miami, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Nebraska among others. USC was one of the first to offer DB Desmond Cain of Delray Beach, FL and continue to lead for his services. Cain recently picked Please see Recruiting, Page 31

Spurs & Feathers • 25

April 23, 2014

South Carolina holds annual ‘Thank Alumni for Giving Day’ by brian hand The Gamecock Club through the concerted efforts of the University of South Carolina held its annual “Thank Alumni for Giving Day” (TAG Day) on Wednesday, March 26. The special event is a unique opportunity for Gamecock student-athletes to sign thank you cards to alumni who make their scholarships possible. The Gamecock Club portion of TAG Day is held on the first floor of the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center. At the Dodie the Gamecock Club has a special table right when the student-athletes walk in the door. Once at the table, the Gamecock studentathletes sign the special thank you cards. Some Gamecock student-athletes even took time to film videos for Gamecock Productions that thank alumni for all that they do for South Carolina athletics. “The main focus of Thank Alumni for Giving Day is to thank actual alumni of the University,” South Carolina Coordinator of Stewardship and Development Communications Kendall Belk said. “For the Gamecock

Club, Athletics Development and our athletics department the focus of both days (Donor Appreciation Day in the fall and Thank Alumni for Giving Day in the spring) is to thank Gamecock Club members and those who contribute to South Carolina Athletics. It’s a great way to get our student-athletes involved in understanding what the Gamecock Club does. Not only do they provide scholarships, but they also provide funds that aid in housing and wellness and books and all of that so it’s chance for us to get in front of our student-athletes faces and show them we’re here for you and this is what our donors do for you.” Executive Director of the Gamecock Club Patrick McFarland echoed Belk’s thoughts on “Thank Alumni for Giving Day.” “TAG Day is about thanking our Gamecock Club members,” McFarland noted. “Who better to thank our Gamecock Club members than the student-athletes.” McFarland said that everyone in the Gamecock Club looks forward to the day every year. “It’s important for Gamecock Club members to have some kind of communication from the people they support,” McFarland concluded.

photo by brian hand

26 • Spurs & Feathers

April 23, 2014

Gamecock Club Fan Fest kicks off in Charleston by mike kucharski

late in the season when the Colonial Life Arena was mostly filled for home games. “I love these events and I always have. About 300 Gamecock fans came out to My job wouldn’t be any fun unless we Mt. Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park to have these fans behind us,” Martin comcelebrate South Carolina Athletics’ success mented. “Our fans are great … it’s not with Cocky, the Gamecock cheerleaders, where we need it to be because my job is to some of the South Carolina head coaches put 18,000 in the seats and to put a product and Gamecock legend and Heisman Troon the court that that many people want to phy winner George Rogers. watch. Charleston County president Rick Cutaia “We’re still fifth or sixth in attendance in said that he enjoyed having the eyes of the league. Attendance went up 20 percent Gamecock Nation on his chapter for the from where it has been, so we’re moving Gamecock Club Fan Fest on April 9. in the right direction and our fans are awe“It’s awesome to have all the coaches some,” Martin continued. come down for the event. It tells you that Each of the head coaches and Rogers adthey appreciate us and we love that. We dressed the crowd after being introduced want to know that we’re a part of it too; by the event’s emcee, Spurs & Feathers’ it’s a team thing,” Cutaia said. “It was a own Ed Girardeau. The coaches and Roggreat turnout today. I thought the weather ers also signed autographs and posed for was going to be a factor, but it turned out pictures with those in attendance. Each of great.” the speakers thanked the fans and GameIn attendance were Gamecock head wom- cock Club members for their contributions en’s basketball coach Dawn Staley, head to the success of all of South Carolina’s men’s basketball coach Frank Martin and programs. head football coach Steve Spurrier. “I’m just glad that I’m a Gamecock right Martin said that going out into the comnow,” Rogers exclaimed as the opening munities in the state was important to help speaker. “We’ve beaten Clemson five times build the support that the Gamecocks saw in a row - five times! I want to beat them as

many times as we can. Let’s keep on cheering the Gamecocks because I think coach Spurrier is going to have an even better year next year.” Staley was next to speak and began by thanking the fans and the Gamecock Club for all the support. “I think it’s an incredible opportunity that you give our student-athletes. The reason that we’re so successful is because of the support that you’ve given. We’ve won a lot of basketball games, but we’ve won a lot in other areas as well and one of them is fan support. I’m so proud of being a part of history, which is winning the SEC regular season championship in the Colonial Life Arena in front of almost 13,000 fans,” Staley said. Martin was next and again talked about how excited he was to see the attendance numbers rise. “For the first time in two years I started feeling a home court advantage. Our players speak about it in the locker room and it’s very important to them,” Martin said. “It continues to reinforce what I’ve learned. That is if we build our program, we’ll have the best fans in the country. There’s no doubt about it and I want to

photo by mike kucharski

thank you guys for what you do.” Spurrier was the final speaker and also opened by saying “thanks to all you Gamecocks.” “We’ve got some super Gamecocks down here. It was a good year and we appreciate everything you fans do. We appreciate all of you that are in the booster club. (Gamecock Club executive director) Patrick McFarland and his crew do a super job,” Spurrier said. “You keep doing your part, we’ll keep doing our part and hopefully one day soon we can walk out of the Georgia Dome and win that SEC Championship. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Spurs & Feathers • 27

April 23, 2014

Major League Baseball lists six Bunnys and a Rabbit (Maranvile) among its all-time players, not to mention a Hopp (Johnny, 1939-52) and a Hopper (Norris, 2006-08). Minor league baseball once featured a team called the Cedar Rapids Bunnies, which played from 1904 to 1932. But none of those bunnies burst onto the scene quite like the Gamecocks’ bunny, which debuted April 17. Sure, Rabbit Maranville was inducted into Cooperstown, but did he rack up 1,100 Twitter followers in a day? After a rash Andy Demetra of injuries, the Gamecocks were Contributing in need of a rabWriter bit’s foot heading into their series at Auburn. They opted for the whole rabbit instead. Shortly before they boarded their bus, a quartet of Gamecocks – senior Brison Celek, junior Grayson Greiner, junior Joel Seddon, and junior Joey Pankake – went to a pet store and bought a one monthold “rally bunny,” hoping All Gamecock baseball to restore coverage sponsored by the team’s DiPrato’s mojo.

They named him “Byron,” though not for poet Lord Byron, who may have had a slump-busting bunny in mind when he wrote, “Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.” The players named him after a character from a skit on an HBO comedy show (search “Canadian Border Patrol” on YouTube). The Gamecocks brought Byron to Auburn with them, stowing him in a cage in the back of the bus. It wasn’t long before he took on a second life of his own. Someone created a Twitter account, @ByronTheBunny. In true bunny fashion, his followers multiplied at a rapid rate. By day’s end, Byron had 1,100 followers – more, as Pankake gleefully pointed out, than freshman outfielder Gene Cone. Pankake, Greiner, and Seddon posed for family portraits. Fans made Byron photoshops. He was given his own hashtag, #FearTheEars. Suddenly a bunny was the talk of the trip, not the Gamecocks’ struggles at the plate. Gamecock Nation had descended into a rabbit hole. Whether a bunny can shake the Gamecocks out of their slump remains to be seen. If this all sounds silly and bizarre and absurd to you, you’d be right. But the Gamecocks are simply following a time-honored baseball tradition. No sport has more tales of teams embracing superstition to snap out of a funk. It’s a sport that believes monkeys (Los Angeles Angels), squirrels (St. Louis Cardinals), and beards (Boston Red Sox) carry magical powers. The Gamecocks are actually taking a page out of their own playbook – two years ago, before a series at Auburn, the team adopted a pet betta fish

named Reptar. The Gamecocks swept the Tigers, and a benign fish soon gained a cult following. Strange as this story sounds, it also makes perfect sense. Baseball is one of the most mentally demanding sports on Earth. In addition to being a game of failure, it leaves plenty of time – almost too much - for thinking. Thinking can lead to dwelling, especially after a poor outing. Players are at their best when they’re loose, clear-headed, and relaxed. If a bunny can lighten the mood in the dugout, so be it. If a rabbit can help the Gamecocks forget their failures, and return to their healthy, hard-hitting ways, Byron will have done his job. (And if he doesn’t, four upperclassmen will have a decidedly unmanly pet in their apartment.) In the meantime, we’ll see if Byron the Bunny can take his place beside such storied baseball Byrons as American League founder Byron “Ban” Johnson, or such

distinguished baseball Bunnies as former Major League first baseman Bunny Brief (1912-17). Who knows? Maybe South Carolina can kickstart a run to another national title, something they last did in 2011. If so, Greiner, Pankake, Seddon, and Celek may have been on to something. According to the Chinese zodiac, 2011 was the Year of the Rabbit.

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April 23, 2014

Future Gamecock Club member - Chris Young/Gameday Warrior by mike kucharski Fans may have seen him at a multitude of South Carolina events in painted face and Garnet and Black overalls as freshman Chris Young - and his persona “the Gameday Warrior” - exhibits a true passion for all Gamecock athletics. “This is my home and I’m one of those people who is very loyal to my home. So anything my home does, I will always support it as much as I possibly can,” Young explained. “I love this place. I can’t even put into words how happy I am to be at South Carolina. This is the only col-

lege that I applied to … there’s nowhere else in the entire world that I would want to be.” He said that he loves the big three sports of baseball, basketball and football, but has really enjoyed going to softball games this season as well. He added that he likes to attend every event he can to lend his support to the dedicated student-athletes. “Just the sheer size of Williams-Brice and the ability to have more people in there makes that atmosphere more intense, making it definitely the best. I feel like when it comes to basketball and baseball, they have the same level of atmosphere. Even though there is a size difference, the atmosphere is the same because the fans compensate for that,” Young commented. “I would say that the atmosphere anywhere on Carolina grounds, you better be ready for an atmosphere that makes it hard for opponents

coming in here. “I’m proud of the student body the way they come to support the teams. I’m usually going crazy trying to get everyone pumped up, but they honestly don’t need me … the sections are always filled out and they’re always ready to roll. That’s part of being a Carolina Gamecock,” Young added. The origination for the Gameday Warrior persona started for Young in high school during spirit week leading up to homecoming. “That first gameday I had my jersey on, looked in the mirror and it just didn’t seem right,” Young described. “It was like I was missing something, so I made a trip home, grabbed my gear, came back and realized ‘this is what I want to do.’ I’m going to do this for every sport and equally support what I love. I’ll support all the sports because my philosophy as the Gameday

Warrior is that I want to make everybody feel that gameday spirit. … I want those players who work their tails off every day for the sport they love and for us to feel the love that they deserve for everything they’ve done for us,” Young said. Young knows that he will continue to support the Gamecocks after he is no longer a student. “I will definitely be a part of the Alumni Association and the Gamecock Club. I will definitely be a part of those groups,” Young said. “As far as the Warrior, I’m still kind of torn between when I graduate and leave, do I leave it behind for someone else … and make it a tradition or do I just keep coming back and doing it as long as I can possibly do it.” Either way, Young knows that his Gamecock spirit will live on long beyond the time that he is a student and he plans to continue to be a part of the legacy of Gamecock athletics.

New York City Gamecock Club ready for spring celebration by mike kucharski

and the strong relationship that currently exists; Matthews is the president of the NYC chapter of My Carolina and vice president of the Gamecock Club The NYC Gamecocks’ spring event April 26 will chapter. Buzzelli also recognized Caitlin Stevens, be a special day for the chapter as they will be celvice president of My Carolina chapter, and all the ebrating a $50,000 donation to South Carolina from other volunteers who have helped make the pledge the Mason Jar. a reality. Buzzelli noted that “... it’s really the effort Chapter president JR Buzzelli said the plan for of a lot of people, not just us. Our volunteers are pasthis came together through the support of many of sionate, make our organizations great, ensure our the volunteers and the Mason Jar hosting so many fans have a great experience, and they have a lot of watch parties and other Gamecock events. fun doing it. We all love The University of South “Gamecock alumni in the Greater New York City Carolina.” all go to the Mason Jar ... it’s the home to the Alumni April 26 will be a big day for the NYC GameAssociation and the Gamecock Club, even if you’re cocks at the Mason Jar starting at 2 p.m. as they not a member but are a Gamecock fan, you are wel- officially recognize the commitment and host the come to the game viewing parties and other events watch party for the South Carolina-Alabama basethere” Buzzelli explained. “All who are fans of Uni- ball game. versity of South Carolina are welcome.” “It’s great to make it official and recognize them “We have a very strong relationship with the guys as our home. We’ve got a sign that we will formally at the Mason Jar and we asked them if there was any hang during the event, the Mason Jar is also a memway that we could make the Mason Jar our official ber of the Gamecock Club and the Garnet Market home and in return they could make a financial ... they continue to support all things Gamecock and commitment to South Carolina and that was it in it’s just great,” Buzzelli said. “You don’t have to be simple terms ... at our spring event we are officially an alumni of the University, you don’t even have to recognizing them as our home for both organizabe a member of the Gamecock Club, but if you’re a tions and all Gamecock fans who are in the Greater fan it’s an awesome place to go.” New York City area” Buzzelli continued. “It’s going to be a big event. We’re going to raffle He said the Mason Jar made the financial comoff a couple of things including a coach Chad Holmitment on behalf of the Gamecock Club and My brook baseball. We hope to bring out all kinds of Carolina Alumni Association for $50,000. Buzzelli alumni and Gamecock fans in general to the event. said that both organizations are extremely excited We’ll have the ceremonial signing of the letter of about the partnership and that it could not be accom- intent (by the Mason Jar) and we’ll also give them plished without the hard work of the volunteers who a big sign that they will hang saying “Welcome To work in both Our Home.” It will be one of many Gamecock items organizations. in the bar at that point, but it will be the official one Buzzelli that says ‘Our Home...’,” Buzzelli explained. said that Nick Buzzelli encouraged any Gamecock fans in the Matthews was Greater New York City area to come enjoy the party instrumental and get involved with the South Carolina communiin the Mason ty. He said that the NYC Gamecocks are focused on Jar agreement growing both philanthropically and in membership

and also getting friends and family of the University of South Carolina involved. Buzzelli also invited any Gamecocks in the area to stop by the Mason Jar anytime - gameday or not - to feel the presence of the University and help support the chapter’s philanthropy by purchsasing up a NYC Gamecocks t-shirt

or coozie as a unique souvenir from the Big Apple. If you can’t make it to The Mason Jar, Buzzelli encourages you to contact your TV provider now to ensure they carry the SEC Network as having more TV access to Gamecock sports is very important to Gamecocks in Greater New York.

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April 23, 2014

Gamecock Club Upcoming Events

Gamecock Club Fan Fest - Greenwood, S.C. When: April 22, 2014; 5:30 p.m. Where: Uptown Greenwood - Corner of Main St. & Court Avenue West Gamecock Club Fan Fest Myrtle Beach, S.C. When: April 23, 2014; 5:30 p.m. Where: Conway’s Riverfront Park

Eastern North Carolina Spring Meeting When: April 24, 2014; 6 p.m. Where: Sammios Italian Restaurant; 2623 Raeford Road, Fayetteville, N.C. Dinner will be at 6:30; at 7:15, we will hear from Chris Clark, Gamecock Central recruiting reporter, and this will be followed by a Q/A session. We are inviting all Gamecock fans, Gamecock Club members and alumni to attend. Please RSVP to John Trogdon at criminaljusticeeducator@yahoo. com or call him at 910-525-5709 to confirm or answer any questions. NYC Gamecock Club Spring Event When: April 26, 2014; 2 p.m. Where: The Mason Jar Celebrate the Mason Jar partnership with the NYC Gamecock Club. Game viewing party for the Baseball game vs. Alabama, the celebration starts at 2 p.m. when the game begins. Free admission, free promotional giveaways, plus buy raffle tickets for great prizes and a chance at an autographed coach Chad Holbrook Baseball. Fourth Annual Lexington County Junior Gamecock Club Baseball Event When: April 26, 2014; 2 p.m. Where: Carolina Stadium The 4th Annual Lexington County Junior Gamecock Club Event will be held on Saturday, April 26th, beginning at 2 p.m. We will have lots of fun activities and surprises for your children from 2:00 until 3:30; opening pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. A limited number of baseball tickets are available for $5.00 each for this game. Children 3 and over must purchase tickets. A cookout is not being held this year, however a $5.00 voucher will be given to each Jr. Gamecock Club member to use at the concession stand during the game. Please RSVP to by Wednesday, April 16th, if you wish to attend with the number of baseball tickets you are ordering, how many Jr. Gamecock Club concession stand vouchers (one per member) are needed, and the names attending. Tickets are non-refundable. Gamecock Club Fan Fest - Greenville, S.C. When: April 29, 2014; 5:30 p.m. Where: at Fluor Field Kershaw County “Great to be a Gamecock” When: April 29, 2014; 6:30 p.m. Where: Old South & Catery (514 Rutledge St.), Camden, S.C. The featured speaker will be coach Shawn Elliott. Cocky will also be on hand for pictures and autographs! The 2014 Capital One and State

Where: Jacksonville, Fla. The Jacksonville Gamecock Club invites all Carolina fans to Jacksonville to prepare to beat the Gators again! November 14 & 15, 2014. Reserve your bus tickets and party tickets now! Friday night party starting at 7 p.m. at Jacksonville Marriott @ Southpoint; cost is $20 per person with The Sensational Epics performing. Game day bus ride on Nov. 15 five hours prior to kickoff; leaving from Jacksonville Marriott @ Southpoint with a coast of $40 per person, does not include ticket to game. Hotel accommodations at Jacksonville Marriott @ Southpoint, Gamecock Club rate $79/night. (904) 296-2222. Make checks payable to Jacksonville Gamecock Club, 2948 3rd Street South #328, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250-5847. Please include email for confrimation. Any questions call: Belk Washington DC Gamecock Club Ingram: (904) 254-5969, bingram@pbclubrealty. Spring Social com; Rod Brace (904) 755-4041, rrbrace@gmail. When: May 12, 7:00 pm com; Dane Hall (904) 591-4877, dhall88@comcast. Where: Hard Times Cafe Clarendon, 3028 Wilson Blvd, Arlington VA 22201 (right next to net; Rick Williamson (904) 699-7952, the Clarendon Metro) The Washington DC Gamecock Club is excited The Gamecock Club remembers the to host Quarterbacks Coach GA Mangus and additional guests from the Athletics Department following members of Gamecock Nation who have recently passed away at the Washington DC Gamecock Club Spring Social. Hope to see you there! Cost: $15 per adult; George T. Case Jr. $5 for children under 18 years old. Go to http:// for further Mr. Case was born April 26, 1938, in Knoxville, Tenn. He was a son of the late George Tilden Case, Sr. and details. Ellis Carnes Case. George was owner of CMA Financial Services in Lexington, S.C., was CLU and CHFC in Nashville Gamecock Club Tailgate Event the financial industry. He was a graduate of Wofford When: May 17, 2014 College and the Southeastern Theological SemiWhere: Nashville, Tenn. The Nashville Gamecock Club would like to an- nary. George was a lifelong member of the Gamenounce their upcoming tailgate event on Saturday, cock Club and was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather who was dedicated to his family. May 17th, prior to the Gamecock baseball team taking on Vanderbilt at 3:00pm. The event will be at the corner of Jess Neely Drive and Natchez Charlie Hudson Graham Trace and will begin at 12:00pm. All Gamecocks Mr. Graham was born in Horry County, a son of in the Nashville area are invited to stop by, as well the late Thomas DeWitt Graham and Ruth Russ as any fans traveling for the baseball series against Graham. Mr. Graham was a loving husband, father, and grandfather and was affectionately known to Vanderbilt. Should you have questions, contact J.W. Brunson at 803-374-1443 or John.Brunson@ many as the “Lance Man.” Mr. Graham was a strong man of faith, having served as a devoted member, elder and trustee of the Mullins Presbyterian Church. He proudly served his country as a member of the Beaufort County Golf Tournament United States Air Force. An avid Gamecock fan, he When: June 14, 2014; 9 a.m. was a longtime member of the Gamecock Club. Where: Sanctuary Golf Club at Cat Island The Beaufort County Gamecock Classic Golf Tournament sponsored by DuPriest Construction Charlie Caudill Sanders Mr. Sanders was a graduate of McCormick High Co. will be on Saturday, June 14 at the SanctuSchool and the University of South Carolina. He ary Golf Club at Cat Island. This is a 4 person resided in McCormick until 2008, when he and his scramble, Captain’s Choice format starting at 9 a.m. Proceeds benefit USC Scholarship Athletes. wife moved to Columbia. He was a lifelong member of McCormick First Baptist Church, where he Entry fee of $100 per player includes a green fee and golf cart, gift bag, sausage or chicken biscuits served as Chairman of Deacons, Church Treasurer and a youth Sunday School teacher. He was married for breakfast, awards lunch, beverages (on the course), and hole contests & prizes. If you would to the former Louise Christian, the love of his life, for over 60 years and they have four children: Joy S. like to play or get a team together, please call Linda McCarty - 843-521-1445 or send informa- Cannon (Zim) of Columbia; Kim S. Schultz (Ken) of tion and entry fee to Beaufort County Gamecock Charlotte, N.C.; Charlie C. “Chuck” Sanders, Jr. (Kim) of Columbia; and Stanley M. Sanders of Orange, Club, 2 Carolina Lane, Beaufort, SC 29907. Conn. He was an avid sports fan and was an ardent supporter of USC athletics and a Gamecock Club Jacksonville Gamecock Club member for over 56 years. South Carolina-Florida weekend When: Nov. 14-15 Championship trophies will also be on display. Members of Carolina’s volleyball staff as well as Gamecock Club president Patrick McFarland will attend to accept a special presentation to the volleyball team from our chapter. There will also be some great raffle prizes! Tickets can be purchased in advance for $10 each or bought at the door for $15. Tickets will be available at the BSL Sandwich Shop (Little Street, Camden), Camden Military Academy’s Administration Office (Hwy. 1 North, Camden), Old South & Catery (509 Dicey Ford Road,Camden) or by calling Casey Robinson at 803-669-0273. Come out and welcome coach Elliott back home to Camden and celebrate a great time to be a Gamecock!

Gamecocks mourn passing of Herb Sharpe south carolina athletics media relations The University of South Carolina Athletics Department is saddened to announce the passing of Herb Sharpe, former Executive Director of the Gamecock Club. “Herb Sharpe was a true Gamecock,” said Athletics Director Ray Tanner. “From serving on the local level as Lexington Gamecock Club President to Executive Director of the Gamecock Club, he truly made a difference for Gamecock Athletics. The relationships he made with people will be his legacy. He had a talent for working with people and developing friendships. We will certainly have his family in our thoughts and prayers.” Sharpe served as the Gamecock Club Assistant Director from 1989 until August 1995 when he moved into an interim director’s role following the retirement of Art Baker. In 1996, he was officially named the Gamecock Club Director, a position he held until 1999. A longtime member of the Gamecock Club, Sharpe also served as the Gamecock Club Board of Directors Chairman for five years and was president of the Lexington County Gamecock Club chapter for six years. “Mr. Sharpe meant a great deal to me personally as he hired me as an intern in the Gamecock Club in 1997,” noted Patrick McFarland, current Director of the Gamecock Club. “He was not only a mentor, but a true friend as well. I will miss him greatly.” A native of Columbia, Sharpe earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration for South Carolina in 1956. He retired from the South Carolina Electric & Gas Company in 1989 following 29 years of service to join the Gamecock Club staff.

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April 23, 2014

Gamecock athletics spring sports roundup by mike kucharski Men’s golf looks to sharpen games heading into postseason South Carolina men’s golf team put together a school-record seven-straight finishes in the topthree positions this year which they will use as motivation heading into the postseason. “It wasn’t necessarily a specific goal, but now that we’re done with the regular season you can look back on it and say ‘wow, that was some really good golf.’ We played poorly at our first event in Dalton, Ga., then after that we were in contention in every event we played in up until Augusta (last regular season event). That’s hard to do in college golf because the fields are so deep and there is so much parity in the game. Finishing topthree seven times in a row I think is an incredible feat by our team,” head coach Bill McDonald said. McDonald said that he feels the confidence level among the team is high, explaining that “I think we played poor enough at Augusta to get their attention, but well enough to show that they can bounce back and respond with some character. “I think everyone associated with the team wants to get back in contention like we were last year. When you look at our conference, there are seven or eight teams in the top-25, so it’s going to be a typical SEC Championship,” McDonald commented. “Our guys know what they have to bring based on last year to have a chance to win the title, but I sense that they’re really ready to go and looking forward to it.” McDonald said that the three weeks between the end of the regular season and the SEC Tournament will be helpful to get the players some rest, catch up on school work and allow them to look in-depth at their games. The SEC Championship will be held from April-25-27 in St. Simons Island, Ga. Women’s golf looking to build on strong regular season South Carolina’s women’s golf team finished the regular season with a team victory over one of the toughest fields of the season to propel them further into the top-10 heading into postseason play. “It gives us momentum going into the postseason. It’s just a good way to build off all of the work they’ve done all year,” Harris said. “That was a great win for us and a great way to end the regular season.” Four Gamecocks finished in the top-20 individually led by Samantha Swinehart carding a career low 6-under 66 in the final round to finish with a career-best five-under for the tournament. Katelyn Dambaugh, Dreher, and Sarah Schmelzel also finished in the top-20 as the team defeated eight top-15 teams in the tournament. “We’ve really had those four core players in the lineup all year being Justine, Sam, Sarah and Katelyn. Those have kind of been our four key players all year … and have done a great job for

us all year. It just shows and portrays our depth there. It’s not really one person that we’re relying on each week, it’s really all four with the depth of our team,” Harris said. The team now shifts the focus to postseason play as they participate in the SEC Tournament. Harris said that the depth of the team gives her confidence that they will be able to continue to compete at the highest level possible as the stakes rise in the postseason. “The important part now is that we do have something to build off, but at the same time in the postseason we all know that everything starts at zero again. What we’ve done matters, but at the same time it doesn’t. We’ve got to get refocused and do the same things that we’ve been doing to prepare ourselves for each event. Nothing changes and we have to put our heads down and work hard. If we do those things, play one shot at a time, take one tournament at a time, then hopefully things will work out the way that they have all spring,” Harris concluded. Softball’s homestand to propel seasonending push The Gamecock softball team is in the midst of an 11-game homestand as they continue to fight for seeding leading to the conference tournament in the ultra-competitive SEC. The Gamecocks were able to win their final SEC road series of the year over Arkansas by taking the final two games on April 12 and 13. That boost should help the Gamecocks because they know if they continue to play well they will eventually have to play on the road again in the postseason. “To go and win on the road in the SEC is hard to do, so anytime you can get two on the road you’re going to celebrate … Arkansas is a very good offensive team and it was a series where you fought every single inning,” head coach Beverly Smith said. “We’ve been learning and building with every series. “We’ve had some really good games, we’ve had some tough losses and all of those have been valuable learning experiences for the team. So to see the growth of us going on the road and winning to now being able to finish at home, hopefully you’re just going to continue to see us climb. We want to be right there for postseason playing our best ball,” Smith continued. Smith said that she feels the team will reach the goal of playing its best softball at the end of the year as they close out the regular season and prepare to host the SEC Tournament May 7-10. “I feel like we’re starting to see that. We’re seeing a lot of fight in our girls, we’re seeing better at bats, better pitching performances. The other thing I’m seeing is that even when we make mistakes, we recover better from them. We’re handling adversity better,” Smith said. Men’s tennis riding hot streak into postseason play South Carolina’s men’s tennis team closed out the regular season winning seven of its final 10

matches to go into the SEC Tournament with a wave of strong play and confidence. Head coach Josh Goffi said that he feels the team learned quite a bit from the beginning of the year to down the stretch of the regular season. “I think the guys realized the urgency and tenacity needed in the SEC. The urgency to do the work on their own to get them prepared for what we’re trying to do out there and also just the urgency of every single match and every single point,” Goffi commented. “We’ve definitely come a long way and I think at this point our guys are ready for anything that comes our way. “They’ve shown that in those last 10 matches. We’ve really competed to our fullest in every match and the win over Vanderbilt (on April 13) just capped it off … especially on their senior day that was a tall task to accomplish and our guys just brought it and it was unbelievable,” Goffi continued. Goffi said that he hopes the team continues to play the way they have during the run, particularly during the season-ending victory at Vanderbilt. He said that if the team continues to play the way they did against Vanderbilt, then they can play with any team in the nation. “I think that we’re extremely confident going into the SEC tournament … our guys aren’t putting a cap on what we can do in the postseason. I think if we take care of some details and certain things within our team we can go far and they believe that as well. It’s an exciting time. The team finally realizes that we’re pretty good and we’ve done well … we can do some damage here in the postseason,” Goffi concluded. Women’s tennis late-season win streak builds confidence South Carolina’s women’s tennis team jumped 30 spots in the national rankings in a three week period that saw the Gamecocks win five-straight SEC matches down the stretch of the regular season. The Gamecocks beat five ranked teams highlighted by a win at No. 24 Ole Miss on April 4 before falling in the season finale to fifth-ranked Vanderbilt. Head coach Kevin Epley said that a successful trip to Mississippi with the win over Ole Miss, then defeating Mississippi State the next day was possibly the signature weekend of the season for the Gamecocks. “Confidence-wise it was a big deal to beat Ole Miss,” Epley commented. “I think we know that we can play with the best and we’ve proven it, but we just haven’t been able to turn the corner with the better teams. Ole Miss was a team that we came out, took care of business in doubles and then did the same in singles. “I think more importantly was getting on the road the next morning against a really feisty Mississippi State team on their senior day and making sure that we didn’t let down at all. I think that we did a really good job of backing it up which is sometimes even harder to do than getting the initial one,” Epley continued.

One of the strengths of the team has become the depth of the skill, which Epley feels will bode well for postseason play. He also noted that the team learned from some of the hard times and growing pains that they went through and feels they are a different team than they were two months ago. “We’re a deep team … not everybody is going to have their best day on any given day, so we need those other spots to step up when somebody is struggling … hopefully we’ll get that day when everybody is firing on all cylinders at the same time. That’s what we’re looking for and we’ll be pretty hard to beat when that happens,” Epley said. Track & field prepares for championship season The South Carolina men’s and women’s track and field teams have honored the seniors at their final home event of the year and now focus on the final meets leading into the championship season. South Carolina’s track and field teams each earned team victories at the Bill Carson Invitational - a homecoming of sorts for head coach Curtis Frye - in a statement that gave the team a boost. He said that the scored meets make track more team-oriented which helps with cohesiveness. “Scored meets always bring out something special in people. It lets them find out a lot about themselves and what sacrifices they’ll make for their teammates,” Frye commented. “It gets people to start understanding who they can count on and the athletes who came through, it gives them confidence that ‘I can be counted on’ … your personal best is important if you got team points and they did a good job of making sure that they ran for other people.” The season is winding down and Frye said that the schedule is coming to some of its most important meets of the year. The Penn Relays are April 24-26 in Philadelphia and the SEC Outdoor Championship will be held May 15-18 in Lexington, Ky. “Now the war starts. The Penn Relays is the recruiting war. It’s a place that we’d like to have a great performance and we’ve got to gear back up … the conference championship is a special cause, so now we’re in the special cause period,” Frye explained. “The Penn Relays are a rehearsal for the conference, the conference is the reason why we compete in track and after that it’s individual. Right now, it’s ‘do it for Carolina.’ “These are the steps we make each year to get them set up for that. They did one for Coach Frye (at the Bill Carson Invitational), now they’ve got to do the Penn Relays for the program’s future, then they’ve got to do the SEC Championships for the program now. It goes from the program to recruit to the program in why you came to college to compete in the SEC, then some few people get to go to the NCAAs. It all has stages, this was the recognition stage, next week is continuing the legacy so we can recruit and then next one is the SEC stage of championships,” Frye concluded.

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April 23, 2014

Unique views sponsored by Unique Expressions Wednesday, April 16, A’ja Wilson sat at a table in the middle of the Heathwood Hall Gym full of her fellow classmates and announced to the world live on ESPNU that the number one female basketball recruit in the nation was staying home in Columbia, S.C. to play for the University of South Carolina. Excitement ran rampant throughout Gamecock Nation and the feeling was summed up perfectly in a short tweet from Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley, “Boom!” Enough said. Ed Girardeau Without any doubt Contributing this is the biggest feEditor male recruit to attend USC. There are big names on the current team, but none with this kind of acclaim straight out of high school. I began to think about it. Who is the biggest recruit to commit to the Gamecocks in any sport? It’s pretty easy to think of JD Clowney. Only three years ago February at the time the nation’s number one foot-

ball recruit committed and signed with the Gamecocks. He followed it up with three straight seasons with 11 wins and the highest final ranking in Carolina football history at number four. And we cannot leave out three straight wins over Clemson (to go with the two before he got here … five in a row for those counting). But maybe just as huge was Marcus Lattimore picking up and putting on the Gamecock cap. My earliest memories of big time recruits goes back to the Frank McGuire era. In the late 1960s he recruited a 6’10” big man named Tom Owens that stirred excitement. That included another player named John Roche, but Owens was the better known prep star. A few years later, McGuire’s greatest pick up was a homegrown talent just like Wilson. Alex English, from Dreher High School, would become not only an All-American in college, but one of the greatest NBA players of all time with over 25,000 points. English held the most points title at Carolina for years before a player out of Irmo High School came to USC, BJ McKie, who is the only player to score over 2,000 points (2119) in his career. He also helped lead the

recruiting, cont. from page 24

lege, who had drawn some USC interest, committed to Auburn Sunday at the end of his official visit. USC target 6-11 Adonis Delarosa last week committed to St. Johns. 6-5 A’ja Wilson of Heathwood Hall, considered the top female high school player in the country for the 2014 class, spurned three traditional heavyweights in women’s college basketball for one of the new kids on the block, which happens to be located just a few blocks from her home. At a news conference at her school televised by ESPNU, Wilson Wednesday announced a commitment to USC over North Carolina, Connecticut and Tennessee. The addition of Wilson gives USC coach Dawn Staley one of, it not the best, recruiting class in the country for 2014. “I’ll be attending the University of South Carolina,” Wilson announced, a proclamation greeted by wild cheers from fellow students in the gym. “It was just a great program and there’s no place like home,” Wilson later said in a press conference, “they are on the rise and I would just love to be a part of it. Coach Staley’s just done such a great job turning the program around and I thought that was my best fit.” Wilson was a McDonald’s All-American this season. She averaged 35 points, 15 rebounds and 5 blocks per game this season. She also was a member of the 2013 under-19 USA World Championship basketball team which won the gold medal in Lithuania. Catch Phil Kornblut every night on SportsTalk and get more of his statewide recruiting news at and on Twitter @SportsTalkSC.

up an offer from SMU and is hearing from Tennessee and Syracuse. He’s expecting USC to watch him during spring practice. USC offered TE Will Gragg of Pine Bluff, AR. He’s a national recruit with dozens of offers. His brother is a tight end at Arkansas.

Basketball News:

6-6 Josh Cunningham of Chicago made an official visit to USC over the weekend and is now ready to get down to the task of making his decision which he will announce early next week at his school. Cunningham is down to USC, Indiana, DePaul, Bradley, Creighton and Minnesota. He said last Sunday night all of the schools are still in the running. “I really enjoyed it,” he said of his USC visit. “I liked the campus. I liked the team. I liked the coaching staff. They had everything that I want to do academically. If I go there, they will push me to make me a better player.” Cunningham made a brief stop by Williams-Brice Stadium for the spring football game as he made his way around the campus. As he thinks about his final choice this week, Cunningham has several factors to consider. “A school with great academics and with a great coaching staff that will push me every day and stay on top of me like my coach does. The visit helped South Carolina. It boosted them quite a bit.” Cunningham is one of the top unsigned players left in the 2014 class. He averaged 23 points and 15 rebounds per game this season. 6-7 Cinmeon Bowers of Chipola Junior Col-

Gamecocks to their only SEC championship in basketball. In football, the first recruit that I can remember in my lifetime getting a lot of publicity was out of Georgia. Georgia Tech head coach Pepper Rodgers made the statement that he had lost two great recruits in his career. While at UCLA, he had lost out on OJ Simpson to Southern Cal and in 1977 he lost George Rogers to Carolina. Over 5,000 yards rushing, a Heisman Trophy and the number one pick in the 1981 NFL draft later, I think we can agree that he lived up to his prep press clippings. After the 1984 season we all awaited the bonanza of recruits from the 10-2 season. I can remember a cold Wednesday morning trying to listen to WIS AM radio to hear that the star of that class, Todd Ellis, would be playing football in Columbia. 10,000 yards later he had quite a career and for all intent and purposes, he’s still going. Baseball recruits don’t receive quite the fanfare normally of their basketball and football counterparts. Jackie Bradley, Jr. certainly lived up to his billing as a great one. A CWS MVP, two National Championship teams and

starting for the Red Sox proves that. In the 70s, Mookie Wilson played baseball in Bamberg, brought his talents to USC, helping lead the team to the 1977 championship finals. Interestingly, the star of that team, national college player of the year, Randy Martz, was a football quarterback that Jim Carlen had recommended to baseball head coach June Raines. Ed Lynch, a basketball recruit by McGuire, was a pitcher on that team. Wilson for his part would go on to star for the New York Mets and win the 1986 World Series. There are names who didn’t quite live up to their high school expectations. Probably more that didn’t than did. You probably can name many that I have left out here. Tanneyhill, Wright, Joyce, Frederick, Smoak and Coates are all big time names who much was expected from and lived up to the excitement they brought. Will Wilson along with her strong cast of newcomers as well as a strong nucleus of current players be able to live up to it? Only time will tell, but for now it’s great to be a Gamecock and remember back to our heroes of the past and dream of the greater things to come!

32 • Spurs & Feathers

April 23, 2014

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