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july 22, 2015 • Volume 37 • Issue 11 • $1.50

Head Ball Coach: ‘We’ve got a good team at South Carolina’ Full SEC Media Days Coverage


2 • Spurs & Feathers

Spurs & Feathers Published by Aiken Communications, Inc.

Contact Us: 326 Rutland Drive N.W. PO Box 456 Aiken, SC, 29801 To subscribe: Please call 800-559-2311; annual subscription price is $50 Ellen Priest Publisher Aiken Communications, Inc. Tim O’Briant General Manager tobriant@spursandfeathers.com (803) 335-1400 Ext. 500 Brian Hand Executive Editor bhand@spursandfeathers.com (803) 335-1399 Ext. 506 Ed Girardeau Contributing Editor/ Advertising Account Executive ed@spursandfeathers.com (803) 646-9807 Dee Taylor Advertising Director (803) 644-2371 Kathy Boyette Advertising Sales Manager (803) 295-3654 kboyette@spursandfeathers.com Brooks Rogers Advertising Representative (803) 446-4022 brooks@spursandfeathers.com Reporter Kyle Heck Photographers Allen Sharpe and Jenny Dilworth Mary Watson Graphic Designer Cover Design Brian Hand (photo by Jenny Dilworth) Postal Information: SPURS & FEATHERS (USPS 12779) (ISSN 7454368X) is published 20 times annually. The frequency is monthly from December to February, bi-weekly in March, monthly in April, bi-weekly in May, bi-weekly in June, monthly in July and bi-weekly from August-December. SPURS & FEATHERS also publishes two slick-paper magazine issues — one in April and one in August. The annual subscription price is $50 for non Gamecock Club members. Members of the Gamecock Club receive a discounted subscription as a member benefit. Spurs & Feathers is published by Aiken Communications, Inc., 326 Rutland Drive NW, Aiken, SC, 29801-4010. Periodicals postage paid at Columbia, SC Postmaster: Send changes to SPURS & FEATHERS, PO Box 456, Aiken, SC, 29802.

July 22, 2015 Upcoming Gamecock Club Events Horry County Gamecock Club meeting When: Tuesday, July 21 Time: 7:00 PM Where: The Boathouse 201 Fantasy Harbour Blvd Myrtle Beach, SC 29579 Speaker: Steve Spurrier, Jr. 2015 Midlands Pre-Season Football Kickoff Hosted by Lexington County Gamecock Club (Featuring the University of South Carolina Assistant Football Coaches) When: Thursday, July 30th Where: Seawell’s Restaurant/Rosewood Drive/Columbia, SC Doors Open and Cocktail Time: 5:30-6:15 Buffet Opens: 6:15 Introduction of Speakers: 7:00 Information on Tables and Tickets for Football Banquet Coaches Tables (Front Row Seating with an Assistant Coach) $400 Includes total (9) seats (One for the Coach) Also Eight (8) Drink tickets Only 6 tables are left and available (2 tables already sold) Reserved Tables (Located Behind Front Row Tables) $300 Includes total of eight (8) seats Individual Tickets $30 Each (Sold through Board Members or Selected Ticket Outlets such as Mathias Sandwich Shop) Eventbrite On-Line Ticket Sells plus a Surchage $30 Each + ($30 plus Eventbrite Surcharge - visit Eventbrite.com and look up event) Individual Tickets Sold at the Door $35 Each (Limited Number Will Be Available) Email lexingtongamecockclub@gmail.com or call 803-608-2538 with questions. Horry County Gamecock Club 20th Annual Golf Classic Will be held on August 8, 2015 at the Grande Dunes Resort Club. Registration begins at 8 a.m. with a shotgun start set for 9 a.m. The fee is $75 per player (includes green fee, cart fee, buffet lunch and a raffle; will be four-man, captain’s choice). Make checks payable to: Horry County Gamecock Club and mail registration to: Horry County Gamecock Club – 1202 Hart St. – Conway, SC 29526. Direct your questions to (843) 902-0558 or EMAIL - jmishoe@dew.sc.gov Sixth Annual My Carolina Club of Charlotte Golf Tournament The event on August 10 will be held at the Ballantyne Resort and all are welcome to attend. They provide golf, breakfast, lunch, adult beverages, gift prizes, and more. Golfers and sponsors are needed. Sign up online at www.mycarolina.org/charlotte. Todd Ellis will be joining them along with other surprises. For more information, please contact James Wolf at james_wolf@ml.com or 704.362.3383. Cherokee County Gamecock Club Fall Banquet When: Thursday August 13th Where: At Limestone College Stephenson Dining Hall Dinner at 6:00 PM Tickets: Adults $15:00, Kids 12 & Under $8:00 Featured Speaker: Head men’s basketball coach Frank Martin, also speaking will be men’s Basketball play by play Andy Demetra, Former NFL & Gamecock Football Player as well as current Sideline Reporter Langston Moore as well as Gamecock Club personnel and Cocky. Friends of Carolina will also be awarding scholarships for students from Cherokee County going to the University of South Carolina or one of its branches.

Charleston County Gamecock Club Upcoming events Join them for their annual Football Season Kick-Off Party! The event will be held at the beautiful Cotton Dock at Boone Hall Plantation on Friday, August 14 (6-11 PM) Tickets include food, beer & wine. Drink tickets can be purchased for $4 for liquor drinks. Tickets are $30 in advance, $10 for kids 12 & under. Sticky Fingers will be catering - pulled pork BBQ and rotisserie smoked chicken served with Sticky Fingers Barbecue Sauces and sandwich buns. Barbecue Baked Beans and Homemade Cole Slaw. Live & Silent Auction: -Tickets for each home football game- including Clemson! -Tickets to the season opener in Charlotte vs. UNC Cocky & the Cheerleaders will be in attendance for photo ops Live music from MOXIE Guest Speakers including Frank Martin and Langston Moore Rain or Shine! SPONSORED BY: Prudential, Rick Hendrick Dodge, Palmetto Moon For more information, https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2015-footballseason-kick-off-party-tickets-17435244285 It’s a Garnet Girl Thing Women’s Brunch sponsored by the Lexington County Gamecock Club A Women’s Brunch sponsored by the Lexington County Gamecock Club will be held on Saturday, August 15th, from 10:00 am until 12:00 noon at the Country Club of Lexington. This brunch will feature coaches and other invited guests from South Carolina Women’s Athletics and various coaches’ wives from other sports. All proceeds will benefit women’s athletics. Reserved sponsor seats - will be sold for the cost of $45.00 per ticket and you will be sitting with an invited guest from Women’s Athletics at the University of South Carolina. Non-reserved/general admission seating - will be sold for $35.00 each. Tickets will not be sold at the door. An Event Sponsor is an opportunity for you to advertise your business and support this event for $25.00. Your business logo will be advertised on a screen throughout the event and listed in the program. This does not include an admission ticket. The coaches will speak about their upcoming season and reflect on this past season and all the success that they have accomplished, as well as a Q&A session. The menu includes: scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, danish and muffins, grits, fruit, bacon, ham, coffee, tea, water and unlimited mimosas. Also included in the price is a commemorative champagne flute. Door prizes will also be awarded. Please email any questions to: ggirlbrunch@yahoo.com To purchase tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/its-a-garnet-girl-thing-brunch-tickets-17730811334 Greenville County Gamecock Club 2015 Bus trips --Time and location for departure - TBA --Sign up today! First come, first served! Sept 3rd .. Bus trip to USC vs UNC in Charlotte, NC. $40 per seat Sept 19th .. Bus trip to USC vs Georgia in Athens, GA. $40 per seat Nov 7th .. Bus trip to USC vs Tenn in Knoxville, Tenn. $45 per seat *Price includes bus ride - box lunch - drinks - coolers are allowed call for info! *You may call and place your name on any bus trip! Contact T. Wayne @ 901-8462 or Dan @ 244-3739 Florence County Gamecock Club Upcoming events The Florence County Gamecock Club will hold their annual Kickoff Luncheon on August 27 and Tony Morrell of TheBigSpur.com will be in town. They will also present their proceeds from their golf tournament to Gamecock athletics that day.


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July 22, 2015

South Carolina and Colonial Life officially renew partnership by brian hand Executive Editor Earlier this month it was unveiled by the NCAA that the Colonial Life Arena is arguably one of the toughest places to play in college basketball with the South Carolina women leading the nation in attendance and the Gamecock men among the nation’s leaders in the category. This passion for Gamecock basketball is why South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner noted during a press conference to announce the naming rights extension with Colonial Life that such a partnership was so important for the University. “This arena is the 10th largest on-campus basketball arena in the nation and we need all of those seats,” Tanner said. “We’re very excited to move forward with Colonial Life.” The Colonial Life Arena, which is also

home to numerous concerts and other events, is the largest arena in the state of South Carolina and can seat 18,000 for basketball games and 19,000 for concerts. The University’s renewed agreement with Colonial Life runs Oct. 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2025. The official announcement of the renewal of the partnership was made at the aforementioned press conference on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. The $6.5 million agreement includes signage as well as promotional packages with South Carolina athletics. Tanner said that the University and athletics department would utilize the money in numerous ways. “There is operations costs to bring in events, staffing, so many things,” Tanner said. “Colonial Life - right now IMG is our multimedia rights holder - and Colonial Life Arena is part of their inventory, so some of our venues are in-house and

some are with IMG with our multimedia rights. This is a great opportunity today to continue this agreement for another 10 years. It’s been 12 years now and we’ve had a great partnership and I think when you think about basketball you think about the CLA, the Colonial Life Arena.” University of South Carolina president Dr. Harris Pastides was very excited to continue the partnership. “This is not a new news story, this is kind of renewing our vows together,” Pastides stated. “We’ve been partners for a long time and we’ve both liked how we benefited and contributed to the marriage if you will and the partnership, so I could not be more pleased to be here renewing our vows with Colonial Life.” Tim Arnold, Colonial Life president and CEO, relayed the same thoughts from his organization and how it’s an investment they are keen to continue. “This sponsorship represents a major

photo by brian hand

ongoing investment in the community and with the University of South Carolina,” Arnold noted. “This agreement is a $6.5 million investment and couple it with the prior 12-year agreement and it’s about a $12 million investment.”


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July 22, 2015

HBC: ‘We’ve got a good team at South Carolina ready to go this year’ by kyle heck Reporter

Around this time last year, South Carolina was about to be picked as the preseason favorites to win the SEC East. However, at the start of the 2015 SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama, there wasn’t anyone talking about the Gamecocks winning their division. That was perfectly fine for South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier, who said that the Gamecocks probably shouldn’t have been picked to win their division in 2014. “We were overhyped last year,” Spurrier said. “When they picked the All-Conference team on defense, we had one third-team guy, Brison Williams. How are we supposed to stop people? Well we didn’t stop anybody too much. But the guys hung in there.” With that being said, Spurrier is looking forward to proving the doubters wrong this season, just like he has so many years in the past. He knows that without a few late game collapses last season, South Carolina would’ve been right up there around that 10-win mark. Even with those collapses, the Gamecocks were able to overcome a difficult midseason stretch and win three of the last four games to finish with a winning 7-6 record. “We’ve got a good team at South Carolina ready to go this year,” Spurrier said. “We had a little bit of a struggle in the middle of last season. As most of you know, we lost four out of five in the middle of the year and it looked like we were definitely heading for a losing season. But really proud of the team, the players and everyone involved. Somehow or another, we won a game down in The Swamp, very fortunate, and then beat Miami in a bowl game, so we got rejuvenated.” After three straight 11-win seasons, a seven win season could be seen as a disappointment to some. However, Spurrier pointed out that some teams in the SEC that are getting more publicity this preseason than the Gamecocks are coming off of similar years. “We were 7-6, same as Tennessee and the same as Arkansas and I think they’re sort of celebrating big seasons last year,” Spurrier said. “So we were celebrating also. We were doing some cartwheels and high-fiving after that Independence Bowl game because it was a year that could have gone real south and guys hung in there and somehow or another found a way to win the game.” After outside talk suggested that Spurrier was getting ready to retire because of the difficult losses during the year, the Head Ball Coach is excited about starting his 11th season as coach of the Gamecocks. Part of that has to do with hiring a former colleague to help with the defense. New co-defensive coordinator Jon Hoke, who Spurrier worked with at Florida, came over from the NFL and will coach the defense with fellow co-defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward. “He’s been with some really, really sharp defensive coaches,” Spurrier said of Hoke. “(The change) has gone very smoothly during spring ball and preseason, but we’ve got to do it on the field. So we’re anxious and eagerly awaiting preseason practice. Players report August 3rd and we play September 3rd.” One of the big questions surrounding the team is who will

think and move around and do what is necessary is still good, then you’re not too old. I’ve got a wonderful situation here at South Carolina. I have no plans on quitting.” SEC Preseason Media Poll The Gamecocks were picked to finish fourth in the annual preseason media voting at the SEC Media Days. South Carolina received one-first place vote by the media in the SEC East. The Gamecocks garnered 830 points in total. Georgia was picked to win the SEC East, acquiring 166 first-place votes and 1,498 points in total. Tennessee (1,231) was tabbed second, while Missouri (1,196) was third. Florida (768), Kentucky (534) and Vanderbilt (243) rounded out the SEC East voting. In the West, Alabama (1,405) was picked to win the division followed by Auburn (1,362), LSU (870), Arkansas (821), Ole Miss (732), Texas A&M (628) and Mississippi State (482). Despite not even being picked to win their division, Auburn was tabbed by the media to win the overall SEC championship. It marked the first time in the 23-year history of the poll this had happened.

photo by allen sharpe

play quarterback this year. Sophomore Connor Mitch enters the preseason No. 1 on the depth chart, but the competition is still wide-open according to Spurrier. He expects Perry Orth and Michael Scarnecchia to push Mitch, along with incoming freshman Lorenzo Nunez. “No, it hasn’t been resolved,” Spurrier said of the quarterback situation. “We’re going to keep competing during preseason practice. We’ve got a month before the first game so we should be able to figure out who can play the best.” “I know you can’t get four ready to play, but we’ll maybe have some plays for Lorenzo Nunez and the other guys. I’ve been a coach to play two quarterbacks. I think you all know that. And you can win with two.” And for anyone wondering if Spurrier, who is 70, feels like he is getting too old to coach, he doesn’t put a lot of stock in how many birthdays he’s been through. “There’s a lot of coaches out there that are at a similar age to me,” Spurrier said. “Mike Krzyzewski just won a national championship (at age 68). Age is just a number that we all have on our birth certificate and so forth. If your ability to

Eastern Division (1st Place votes in parenthesis) PLACE SCHOOL POINTS 1. Georgia (166) 1498 2. Tennessee (36) 1231 3. Missouri (20) 1196 4. South Carolina (1) 830 5. Florida (1) 768 6. Kentucky (1) 534 7. Vanderbilt 243 Western Division (1st Place votes in parenthesis) PLACE SCHOOL POINTS 1. Alabama (92) 1405 2. Auburn (108) 1362 3. LSU (10) 870 4. Arkansas (6) 821 5. Ole Miss (3) 732 6. Texas A&M (4) 628 7. Mississippi State (2) 482 SEC Champion SCHOOL Auburn Alabama Georgia LSU Arkansas Ole Miss Tennessee Texas A&M Florida 1 Mississippi State

POINTS 96 80 28 9 3 3 2 2 1

SEC Preseason Media All-SEC Gamecocks Pharoh Cooper (2nd-team WR, 1st-team AP, 2nd-team RS) Brandon Shell (3rd-team OL) Elliott Fry (2nd-team OL)


Spurs & Feathers • 5

July 22, 2015

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6 • Spurs & Feathers

July 22, 2015

Moore looking to flourish in new defensive scheme by kyle heck Reporter

It’s no secret that South Carolina had a down year on defense in 2014. The Gamecocks gave up just under 433 yards per game and allowed 30.4 points per game and let several late leads slip away during the season. Those numbers came after a 2013 season that saw South Carolina give up just 350 yards and 20.3 points per game. The above statistics show why the Gamecocks went 11-2 in 2013 compared to just 7-6 in 2014. During the offseason, head coach Steve Spurrier brought in Jon Hoke from the NFL to be co-defensive coordinator, along with Lorenzo Ward. Hoke was the defensive coordinator under Spurrier at Florida in the early 2000s when the Gators were ranked as one of the best defenses in the country. Hoke will bring in a 4-3 scheme on defense that is different than the 4-2-5 defense the Gamecocks had grown used to. The base 4-3 defense allows the Gamecocks to have three true linebackers on the field rather than the two linebackers and one “spur” that play in the 4-2-5 scheme. Junior linebacker Skai Moore, who has led

South Carolina in tackles his first two seasons, is looking forward to improving upon the defensive numbers in 2015. “I feel like this 4-3 scheme will definitely help us out a lot,” Moore said. “I have two great linebackers on the field with me in Jonathan Walton and Bryson Allen-Williams. Me being able to run an anchor in the middle of the field is going to help me a lot as well.” Moore stated that Hoke has brought a new “intensity” to the team as well as helping him read what the opposing quarterback is doing. “Just squaring up to the quarterback and reading his shoulders, that’s helped me a lot in the spring because I’ve been able to make more plays,” Moore said. “He’s helped me a lot with the pass coverage.” That will prove to be valuable for Moore, who will be farther from the line of scrimmage in the 4-3 defense than he was in the 4-2-5 defense. However, the Cooper City, Florida native knows that pep talks and instruction won’t mean anything if you don’t go out and execute on the field, something that Moore said the Gamecocks struggled with last season. “Honestly, from what I noticed last year, it was just the confidence from the players and

photo by brian hand

missing a lot of tackles,” Moore said. “Other than that, on film we were in the right spots, we were just missing a lot of tackles and that killed us. That’s one thing we’ve got to change this year.” Moore and Walton figure to be a big part of that defensive turnaround. The two best friends were mainstays at the two linebacker spots last year and combined for 154 tackles.

This year both players will take on more of a leadership role and help the younger players adjust to the defensive changes. “Experience is a big thing,” Moore said. “If you have confidence out there, your game is just at a whole different level. I learned that personally last year. Just having confidence out there and believing that you can make a play.”

photo by brian hand

In his career for South Carolina, Fry has converted 105-of-106 extra points and 76.7 percent of his field goals (33-of-43). Fry is currently on pace to to break the alltime scoring record at South Carolina and the Head Ball Coach himself believes Fry could go down as the best kicker in Gamecock history. “It’s definitely a big honor coming from Coach Spurrier,” Fry said. “He’s been around a lot of kickers. A lot of kickers that are now pros like (former Gamecocks) Ryan Succop and Spencer Lanning, but yeah, it’s pretty cool. This year I’m going in with a good attitude and as a kicker, you try to make everything and you go into everything with the attitude that you’re going to make everything. I think that if I really focus I can be one of the top kickers in the country.” Fry never dreamed when coming to South Carolina that he would be a part of SEC Media Days, but he was embracing every moment of it. In fact, Fry was one of the hits of the second day of the 2015 SEC Media Days as his rooster crow impression went viral. He also turned in a pretty spot-on impression of the HBC. “It’s awesome,” Fry mentioned. “It’s definitely really cool to be here. I never thought I’d be here.”

Fry embraces platform at SEC Media Days by brian hand Executive Editor The 2015 SEC Media Days featured something a little different than in the past with the league incorporating a new element to the annual media days with a special initiative entitled “Beyond the field: Stories of the SEC.” The new initiative for the 2015 SEC Media Days meant that each school brought at least one student-athlete that had a compelling story off the field. The South Carolina representative for this initiative for SEC Media Days was junior placekicker Elliott Fry. The only kicker at the 2015 SEC Media Days, Fry is on the Watch List for the Lou Groza Award and was a second-team AllSEC selection last year. Fry’s abilities on the field are even more impressive due to the fact that he has found a way to be one of the best kickers in the country, while also dealing daily with Type 1 diabetes. The Frisco, Texas native was incredibly appreciative to the SEC for his chance to not only promote the Gamecock cause, but also the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. “It’s really great to be able to spread the word about diabetes,” Fry noted.


July 22, 2015

Spurs & Feathers • 7

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8 • Spurs & Feathers

July 22, 2015

Cooper focused on returning Gamecocks back to nation’s elite by brian hand Executive Editor

Pharoh Cooper may be in general a humble guy, but he also knows just how good he is at football. “I should be categorized as one of the nation’s elite at my position as an athlete,” Cooper said at SEC Media Days. “I’m one of the most versatile players in the nation in what I can do with the ball on offense. My mentality is that I can score each time I get the ball.” The current face of Gamecock football wants to be considered among the best to ever don the garnet and black, saying that by the time he leaves he hopes people think of him just like they do other Steve Spurrierera receivers like Alshon Jeffery, Sidney Rice and Bruce Ellington. That does not mean he is thinking about making a name for himself in the NFL like the aforementioned at this moment. That’s just not on his mind right now. “I’m just focused on this year right now,” Cooper relayed. A first-team All-SEC performer in the 2014 season for the Gamecocks, many believe that the All-America candidate should be on people’s minds for the 2015 Heisman. Cooper really isn’t worried about that too much either. He’s just happy to be playing for a Heisman winner. “It’s kind of cool being coached by a Heisman Trophy winner,” Cooper mused of playing for the Head Ball coach. “We wear the same number. He’s a cool guy and we get along real well.” In Cooper’s two seasons with the Gamecocks he has amassed 1,190 receiving yards, 402 rushing yards, 107 passing yards, 359 kickoff return yards and 115 punt return yards. Last year, he was the main target of Gamecock single-season passing leader Dylan Thompson as Cooper closed out the year with 69 receptions for 1,136 yards. He caught nine touchdowns. Cooper’s breakout year individually came during a 7-6 for the Gamecocks. As you can imagine from a player of Cooper’s capabilities he is daily working to help get South Carolina back to where they feel they belong in the SEC. “We’re a 10, 11-win season type of team and that’s what we’re going to try and do and have a big turnaround this year,” Cooper stated.

photo by brian hand

All of this success offensively almost didn’t happen for Cooper, who entered South Carolina planning to be a defensive back. “It was frustrating when I got to camp as a DB,” Cooper said. “I wanted to play safety and I was moved to corner and I didn’t get any reps at corner. We had some older guys

that had the starting spots kind of locked down. I was still catching punts, which I came here to do and Coach Spurrier saw me catching punts and he said ‘let’s move you to receiver.’” The foresight by Spurrier has many believing the sky is the limit for the Gamecock offensive standout from Havelock, North

Carolina who grew up a Tar Heel fan. With the Tar Heels the opening opponent, you better believe Cooper is excited to take on the program he grew up cheering for, particularly since he does not feel they recruited him the way he deserved. “I’m really excited for this game,” Cooper said. “It’s going to be fun.”


Spurs & Feathers • 9

July 22, 2015

A national media perspective on the Gamecocks in 2015 When there are so many media members and T.V. personalities roaming around one place like there was at SEC Media Days 2015, there’s a lot of opportunities to talk to someone about different teams in the SEC and their thoughts on how the season will play out. With that in mind, Spurs & Feathers reporter Kyle Heck stopped three notable such figures and asked them a couple of questions about the upcoming season for the South Carolina football team.

has ever been. That doesn’t always equate into success, but I do think it’s essential to success. You’re not going to have that success without that passion and that drive and he has it still, no question. I wouldn’t be surprised, there’s a number of teams that fall into this category, probably four or five conference wide, but I think they’re one of the teams that fall into the category of ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if they won six or seven or if they won nine or ten.’ That speaks to the overall depth and quality of the conference.

literally do anything and whether or not you guys will have to rely on him that much will ultimately be the deciding factor. S&F: I’m sure you know about the defensive struggles last year, so how much of an impact do you think the hiring of Jon Hoke will have? It’s interesting because it’s rare that you see a co-defensive coordinator situation, let alone one where you are keeping a defensive coordinator. A lot of coaches would’ve let them go, photo by allen sharpe but I think it’s pretty extraordinary that SpurJay Crawford, ESPN SportsCenter Anrier recognizes that Lorenzo Ward brought in chor Bruce Feldman, New York Times Bestis a big question mark. I’m not sure what they all of these players and he wants him to still S&F: What is the first thing that comes to Selling author/Reporter, Fox Sports would hang their hat on. I think Hoke will get coach them but he also wants to add in a new mind when you think of South Carolina this S&F: What is the first thing that comes to them better on defense, I just don’t know how set of eyes. That’s going to be a great way to year? mind when you think of South Carolina this much better they’re going to get. With that, my just get a new feel. The players might feel like A big mystery this year. I don’t think that something is a little bit different and it might year? guess is like a 7-5 kind of year. they were just a seven win team a year ago. I ultimately be exactly what the doctor ordered Steve Spurrier. He’s a guy that is always think they were much better than that. I think interesting and he’s had success wherever he’s for the defense. Maria Taylor, ESPN/SEC Network Anmost of the coaches and the players would S&F: What do you think the ceiling is for been. He won at Duke so yeah, I would start chor/Reporter agree with that. I think a lot of the coaches there. Then I think of Clowney. I know he’s S&F: What is the first thing that comes to this team this year? here in the conference would tell you that. But not there anymore but he was just the most mind when you think of South Carolina this I really think that anytime expectations are low, the opportunity for a team to surge is very you know the drill. A play there and a play amazing football talent I had ever seen. year? there and you can lose a two touchdown lead S&F: In regards to this year, what is the I think of Spurrier and whenever you have a high. Just because of that I think the ceiling in the fourth quarter and suddenly 8-5 or 9-3 ceiling for this team and are you expecting playcaller like him and an offensive mind like would be 10 wins to me. Georgia is always suddenly turns into a 7-6 and there’s a cloud of another 7-6 type season? him, you have a chance. And I’m also thinking a toss-up game, playing in the East, there’s unknown over your program and I think that’s That’s what I think (will happen). I could be about the fact that even though they do have to plenty of wins to be gotten there. But South Carolina is going to have to figure it out kind where Steve is. We had him on the set live (Ju- totally off-base. Tennessee has gotten better, replace some very key players, they still have ly 14) and the one thing that I can assure you of early in order to determine whether or not Florida is still kind of figuring it out. Missouri Pharoh Cooper, who seems very confident is that his passion is as great and strong as it they can reach that ceiling. is good. But I just think that quarterback play at this point and he’s a triple threat. He could

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10 • Spurs & Feathers

July 22, 2015

Once enemies, Alston and Thorne brought together as Gamecocks by kyle heck Reporter

In high school, it’s safe to say that Preston Thorne and Jonathan Alston weren’t friends. Alston was a two-way lineman at Stratford High School while Thorne was primarily a defensive lineman at rival Summerville, which is less than 12 miles away from Stratford. The two schools were state powerhouses that usually only had each other for competition in the late 90s. In 1998, Thorne’s and Alston’s junior season, Summerville went undefeated on its way to a 4A State Championship. During that season, Thorne’s Green Wave team knocked off Stratford, handing the Knights what proved to be their only regular season loss. However, Alston would get his redemption a year later. Stratford cruised to an undefeated season, knocking off Summerville along the way, to take the 4A state title away from the Green Wave. “He was my archrival and we didn’t like each other,” said Thorne, who added that Alston held him when they played. “They kind of cheated when they beat us our senior year.” “We whooped them,” countered Alston. While the two may have disagreed on a lot of things in high school, there was one thing they had in common, and that was talent. Thorne racked up 129 tackles, 14 for loss and 12 sacks his senior year, and was named first-team AllState. He was a two-sport star, also playing baseball for the Green Wave. Meanwhile, Alston was busy making the Shrine Bowl his senior year and was an AllState selection himself on the line. He was ranked as the ninth-best player in the Atlantic Region by Prep State magazine. Both players had college scholarship offers from all over the country, but in the end they chose to stay in the state. Alston picked South Carolina over Michigan State and Clemson while Thorne spurned Georgia and Michigan to attend, you guessed it, South Carolina. As fate would have it, the two rivals from high school would become roommates once they got on campus in Columbia. They obviously weren’t too happy about the living arrangements at first, but with their high school rivalry behind them, they were able to finally talk to each other. “Once we met each other, we were like, ‘oh, this guy is alright, he’s pretty cool,’” Thorne said. Both prospects were redshirted their fresh-

photos of Alston (left) and Thorne (right) as Gamecocks courtesy of South Carolina Athletics Media Relations

man season in 2000 before going on to have productive careers with the Gamecocks. Thorne stepped into immediate playing time as a redshirt freshman in 2001 while Alston initially joined Thorne on the defensive line in 2001. However, Alston switched over to the offensive line in 2002, where he spent the last three years of his career. It proved to be a good move as Alston signed an undrafted free-agent deal with the Washington Redskins after leaving South Carolina. Both players were a part of South Carolina’s second straight Outback Bowl victory in 2001. For Thorne and Alston, it was nice to help turn around a program that was struggling mightily just a few years before. “To be honest, to hear and see what those guys went through and then come in and be a part of a turnaround was huge,” Alston said. Becoming teammates had a huge effect on Alston’s and Thorne’s relationship. Pretty soon,

they were best friends. Even after leaving South Carolina, the two kept up their friendship. “It turned into a good thing,” Thorne said. “We ended up being roommates for four years and I’m the godfather to his daughter, so it’s kind of crazy how football brought us together.” Alston and Thorne were both part of former teammate Langston Moore’s third annual Eat2Win football camp on June 13. They helped teach the young kids in attendance the fundamentals of football as well as the importance of eating healthy and getting a good education. Alston and Thorne were joined by around 20 former Gamecocks to help out Moore with the camp. It was a great opportunity for the players to catch up with each other while helping out the next generation at the same time. Thorne is currently teaching and coaching at Blythewood High School and is also helping Moore author a children’s book called “#Jus-

taChicken”, a story about Cocky and the rest of the mascots in the SEC. Alston has been busy building up a secondary career and has worked in construction sales at Waste Management for the last three years. He’s also raising a family that includes his wife of 10 years, a 13-year-old daughter and 6-yearold son. After a long, twisting journey to lifetime friendship, the two former Gamecocks can’t help but reflect on their careers and be proud of what they accomplished and the memories they made. “Kind of laying down some of the foundation for the success they’re having now; it’s huge to be a part of that because you work so hard and you see the fruits of your labor,” Alston said of the football team. “It’s an amazing feeling but we also get that same feeling now just watching each other grow in our communities with our families so it’s a wonderful thing.”


Spurs & Feathers • 11

July 22, 2015

Smith proves hard work pays off by kyle heck Reporter

49 tackles and a sack; 38 of those tackles and the sack came in Smith’s senior season in 2002. Smith wasn’t drafted by any NFL teams after his senior Shaun Smith is the epitome of the saying hard year, but he wasn’t ready to give up football. work pays off. He signed a free-agent deal with the Dallas Born in Brooklyn, New York, Smith made Cowboys in 2003 and spent the year on the team’s quite the change in high school. He moved from practice squad. One year later, Smith made the one of the biggest metropolises in the world to active roster with the New Orleans Saints. He the agriculturally-focused Midwest in Wichita, started one game for the Saints in 2004 and made Kansas, where he played his last two years of high nine tackles. That was the first of 10 straight years school football. that Smith spent in the NFL playing for five difInstead of going straight to a four-year school ferent teams. upon graduation, Smith had to take the junior colHis best season came in 2007 with the Clevelege route. He played at JUCO powerhouse Butler land Browns. Smith started a career-high 11 County Community College in Hutchinson, Kan- games, making a career-high 62 tackles to go sas for two years, where he racked up 128 tackles, along with three pass deflections, two sacks and 33 for loss and had 20 sacks as a defensive linea forced fumble. In 2010, Smith recorded his first man. He was named an All-American in 2000. and only rushing touchdown of his career when At former Gamecock Langston Moore’s thirdthe 325-pound tackle barreled into the end zone annual Eat2Win camp, Smith admitted that from a yard out against the Seattle Seahawks taking the JUCO route was a lot of extra work, while with the Kansas City Chiefs. something that he is more than used to. He finished his NFL career with 244 tackles, “Man, it’s a grind all the time,” Smith said. four sacks, four pass deflections and two forced “You’re always grinding and you’re like, ‘I’ve got fumbles. to keep proving myself, keep proving myself.’” It was quite a career for a player that wasn’t able After those outstanding two years, Smith’s to go to a major program out of high school and dreams of playing at a major college came true went undrafted after college football. when he signed with South Carolina in 2001. In “Not getting drafted in the NFL and still being two years with the Gamecocks, Smith recorded able to go on and play 10 years, I had to grind,”

his. He came back to South Carolina and finished his African-American Studies degree. “I walked across the stage and showed my kids what you can get if you work hard for it,” said Smith, who hopes to someday coach at South Carolina. “I promised my mom I was going to do it.” Smith is trying to pass on the information he learned in his long football career, saying it’s something that he wished he had when he was growing up. “You’ve got a guy telling you everything, how to make it, so why not?” Smith said. “I’ve got the blueprint. I’m going to tell you. I’m living the dream and giving back to these kids.” associated press Smith is a great example of what can happen if you don’t let obstacles get in your way. There were countless times when Smith could have decided Smith said. “I know what hard work is.” Nowadays, Smith, who currently lives in Frisco, it was too much traveling around and too much uncertainty. Texas, is spending most of his time tutoring But he didn’t give up and went on to have a young kids about how important it is to work as decade long pro career, something that not many hard as he did at everything in life. He’s a part people can claim. of Moore’s You Only Block Yourself (YOBY) Hard work pays off no matter who you are. program that trains lineman for a future in college “You can come in college and be a five-star and pro football. YOBY operates in South Caroathlete or a one-star athlete, it doesn’t matter,” lina and Dallas, Texas and Smith said they are hoping to expand it to Charlotte with the help of a Smith said. “As long as you finish and get your degree and do everything you need to do, you’ll few more former NFL players. In 2013, Smith accomplished another life goal of be alright.”

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12 • Spurs & Feathers

July 22, 2015

Moore’s Eat2Win camp provides blueprint for life success

by kyle heck Reporter

wished he would have had someone tutor him when he was younger. “You’ve got a guy telling you everything, how Under sunny skies and a piercing sun, over to make it, why not take it?” Smith said. “I’ve 100 kids gathered on the football field at Irmo got the blueprint.” High School for the third annual Eat2Win FootThe camp started when the kids were broken ball camp held by former Gamecock and NFL down into five different groups before rotating veteran Langston Moore. between five different position drills stations. Moore was joined by over 20 of some of his After that, they got smoothies made by Tropiformer teammates and others who played at cal Smoothie Café, before getting important South Carolina, some of whom also played in nutritional information from former Gamecock the NFL, to help coach the kids in attendance. Willis Ham. While there are countless football camps that Ham told the youngsters to avoid sugary and focus on football techniques, the Eat2Win camp processed foods that have high fructose corn is unique in that it had a couple of other purposes syrup in it. When going into a grocery store, as well. For one, the kids were taught about the Ham said to shop around the outer edges of the importance of eating healthy along with exercis- store, where all of the fresh foods and produce ing. In addition, while most of them have one are. dream, playing in the NFL, the former players They then went to get a pep talk from Landon explained how important it is to get an education Cohen, a defensive lineman for the Seattle as a backup plan. Seahawks and former Ohio University star. There were more volunteer coaches at this Cohen told the kids that while things like how year’s camp than in the past, which led to more fast you can run and how far you can throw can one-on-one interaction between the kids and be measured, your heart and effort can never be coaches. measured. “We usually try to shoot for one coach for Cohen also said that the dream of playing in every 15 guys, but I think we had about one the NFL is well within reach if the kids put all of coach for every five guys today, so that was their heart and all of their soul into accomplishgreat,” Moore said. “I’m glad we had a good ing that dream. coach-to-player ratio where these guys had a “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t lot of interaction with the coaches. To see these do it,” Cohen said. guys talking to the coaches in between drills, After a mock combine where the kids raced that’s where the impact is made. You come out and ran drills, they received another pep talk here and get the t-shirts and have fun, but it’s the from former Gamecock Moe Brown. Coming personal one-on-one stuff that counts and that’s into the South Carolina program, Brown was where I’m happy to say that my friends and old one of the countless players who had one goal in teammates came out and supported us.” mind; making it to the NFL. The importance of that interaction wasn’t lost “I just knew I was going to be in the NFL,” on Shaun Smith, a former South Carolina defen- Brown recalled saying. However, while in colsive lineman and 10-year NFL veteran. Despite lege, Brown decided to also focus on getting lasting so long in pro football, Smith said he good grades so he would have a good backup

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give you some teachable moments while you’re here.” For all of the coaches who participated in the Eat2Win camp, it was an easy decision to be able to come out to Moore’s camp and pass on their life-learned lessons to the younger kids who are just getting started. “It’s a win-win situation,” said Jonathan Alston, a former South Carolina offensive lineman and Washington Redskin. “You get to catch up with guys that you haven’t seen in years and you also get the opportunity to come out and give back to the kids and show them that they can have fun and also eat right.” To learn more about the Eat2Win camp, you can like the camp on Facebook (https://www. facebook.com/Eat2WinFootball?fref=ts), or follow the camp on Twitter at @Eat2WinFootball.

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plan. As it turned out, that proved to be a great decision for the Anderson native. He didn’t get the opportunity to continue playing football after college, but didn’t let that get him down. He now works for the South Carolina Department of Commerce where he gets to do a lot of traveling. He relayed his story to the kids in attendance and made sure they knew that football isn’t the only answer or goal to life. Moore believes that all of these lessons are vital to the success of the young people at the camp. “We’re going to give you all of the football stuff, that’s a no-brainer,” Moore said. “But while we have them and they get drawn into the (Marcus) Lattimore’s and Willis Ham’s and the guys that are out here, we impact you and try to

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Spurs & Feathers • 13

July 22, 2015

“Talkin’ Season? How about Tweetin’ Five months in, we’re starting to get a sense Season? For the HBC, it’s a brand new ball- of where you’re “@” in your social media game in 2015 experiment. When you first joined, you tempered everyone’s expectations by saying you ill we remember this Gamecocks wouldn’t be tweeting much; you’d mainly use offseason for the impending battle it to keep tabs on your players and recruits. at starting quarterback? The hir“Times change and we all have to keep up ing of Jon Hoke as co-defensive coordinator? with the times so we don’t get left behind. It’s The emergence of Pharoh Cooper as an Allsomething that I don’t use often but occasionAmerican candidate at wide receiver? ally I’ll throw something out there,” you told Maybe. Or maybe we’ll remember it for Spurs & Feathers before leaving for SEC the tweet read Media Days. ‘round the So far you’ve held to that “leave them world: wanting more” philosophy: as of mid-July “1rst off / you’ve only tweeted 28 times, with four reHello to all tweets and zero favorites. Clearly, though, Gamecocks! I the masses have thirsted for your wisdom. want to thank Since March more than 60,000 people have all past players followed @SC_HBC, studying your every at Duke at UF tweet like it’s the Dead Sea Scrolls. and UofSC and You may call yourself a Twitter minimalist, all present and but it’s obvious fans want to hear from one future players of college football’s greatest characters, 140 #Heresc,” it said, characters at a time. a 133-character (Did you notice the President created his supernova emaown account, @POTUS, two months after nating from high you did? And he also chose a five-letter atop the Floyd handle in all caps. I’m not saying it’s a coinAndy Demetra Building at cidence. I’m not saying it isn’t, either.) Contributing Williams-Brice Surprised by this Twitter popularity? Don’t Writer Stadium. be. Your one-liners at Florida went viral long And with that, before the jet fuel of social media. Your press on March 2, the prayers of millions of college conferences at South Carolina are re-tweet football fans were answered. That’s when catnip for reporters. Look at how quickly you, Steve Spurrier, announced that you had people tried to circulate your gems at SEC joined Twitter using the nom de tweet @ Media Days. That wit of yours – sly, cheerSC_HBC. As I’m sure you’re aware, it nearly fully subversive, a slight whiff of trolling – is broke the Internet. perfect for the rapid-fire, hyper-sharing world This wasn’t a drill. This wasn’t some silly of social media. You and Twitter were made impostor account (Lord knows you have for each other. plenty of those). One of Twitter’s most Soon, though, you’ll be stepping into terra sought-after holdouts had finally taken the incognita: this September marks your 26th plunge. season as a college head coach, but your You officially became the HTweetC. first as a head coach on Twitter. Normally

W

your players shut down their accounts during the season to ward off distractions, and it wouldn’t surprise us if you did the same. But now that you’ve gotten comfortable with it, perhaps you’ll consider tweeting even more. You’ve already mastered “talkin’ season,” that listless time in the dead of the summer when little news happens. Why not conquer “tweetin’ season” as well? And while we’re at it, why not expand your playbook? How about tweeting a gif after a big win? What about dropping an emoji of flames or high-five hands at the end of a sentence? Imagine the meltdown on Twitter if you ever posted your version of a meme. To borrow a line from Christopher Walken’s Bruce Dickinson character in the Saturday Night Live “More Cowbell” skit, there’s plenty of studio space left for you to explore. You invented the “Fun N’ Gun” offense at Florida – just apply those same principles to Twitter. Have fun and let it rip. We understand if you’re hesitant to commit. Football coaches lead impossibly regimented lives; each minute of the day is carefully accounted for, all revolving around the singular goal of winning. Twitter is pretty much the sworn enemy of that. Gamecock fans don’t

need you scrolling through #LiesIToldMyParents when you could be searching for holes in the Georgia secondary. We don’t want you reading unsolicited suggestions on what plays to run (that’s what your call-in show is for). Twitter can make even the most abstemious person lose his focus; we don’t want you distracted with such an important season ahead. But five months in, we hope your introduction to Twitter has been as enjoyable for you as it’s been for us. No one would have blamed you if you stayed on the social media sidelines. With everything that you’ve accomplished in your career, what would be the point? But just know that every time you post, it puts a smile on Gamecock fans’ faces. It reminds them that their head coach is cooler than everyone else’s head coach (see: Preakness photo of you and Jerri; photo of you and other Heisman Trophy winners). We appreciate your willingness to try something new to connect with fans and spread the brand of Gamecock football. That’s why we humbly ask you to keep it up. And if you’re still reluctant to tweet once the season starts, we have one more question to ask, Coach. What are your thoughts on Instagram?


14 • Spurs & Feathers

July 22, 2015

Ellington cousins use camp to give back to community by kyle heck Reporter

photo by kyle heck

just wanted to have some way of keeping these kids involved. Getting them off the couches and stop them from playing video games all day and just giving them something to dream for. Hopefully it comes true.” Along with the drills, the kids and their parents had chances to win prizes from several sponsors who set up tents on the concourse. They could also get tested for diabetes, get a blood pressure and vision check and could even see what their Body Mass Index (BMI) was. “This is a great thing we have going on down here,” Bruce said. “Coming home and giving back to our small town of Moncks Corner.” With both Ellingtons playing football on the west coast, they don’t get a lot of opportunities to come back home. That meant that while the main focus was the camp and providing the kids with some important knowledge, Bruce and Andre are both happy that they’re able to spend some time with family and friends before yet another football season starts up. “This is where it all started,” Bruce said of Berkeley. “This is where me and Andre got noticed at so it’s nice coming back here and seeing some other NFL guys come help out. It’s great.” “This is home,” Andre said. “You can’t forget where you came from. We just wanted to come back and have fun with the kids. We really want to thank the families for bringing their kids out here.”

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Temperatures nearing triple-digits didn’t stop around one thousand kids from coming out to the second annual Ellington Elite Youth Football Camp at Berkeley High School in Moncks Corner on Friday, July 10. Headlining the camp was Bruce Ellington, a former two-sport star at South Carolina, and Andre Ellington, a former star tailback at Clemson. Despite the athletes from two schools that rival each other, Gamecock and Tiger fans alike came out to work out together and get autographs from some of their favorite players. Bruce, who now plays for the San Francisco 49ers, and Andre, who plays for the Arizona Cardinals, are cousins and both starred at Berkeley before moving on to college careers at the two big in-state schools. “This is a great cause for me and my cousin Andre to just have a free camp to give back to the community,” Bruce said. The large crowd showed just how much of an impact the Ellington brothers have on the Moncks Corner area. In addition, the duo brought along some of their college teammates to help coach and give some advice to the youngsters. Andre brought several former Clemson stars with him, including Robert Smith, C.J. Jones, Jaron Brown, Jarvis Jenkins, Brandon Ford and Tajh Boyd. “Focus on school first, then you can be an athlete,” Jones told the kids. Despite the big Clemson presence, Ellington made sure to bring along some of his Gamecock friends, including former stars Langston Moore and Preston Thorne, both of whom have supported fellow Gamecocks and their camps all summer long. The coaches first spread the kids all across the football field for some stretches before they broke away into position groups. The kids then rotated between quarterback, offensive and defensive line, wide receiver, defensive back, linebacker and runningback drills. After a couple more motivational speeches and lunch, the kids hit the field again for combine drills. The coaches saw who could do the most pushups, who could run the fastest and who could throw the farthest, among other things. “I’m excited,” Andre said of the large crowd. “Just growing up in a small town like this, outdoor activities was everything to us. We

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Spurs & Feathers • 15

July 22, 2015

Gilmore holds first-ever ‘Skills and Drills’ camp by kyle heck Reporter

Seahawks and Jadeveon Clowney of the Houston Texans all introduced themselves to the kids that were present. All but CoEver since Stephon Gilmore left South hen are former Gamecocks and came back Carolina to go to the NFL in 2012, he’s to help out Gilmore. The South Pointe wanted to come back to his hometown football coaching staff was also helping of Rock Hill, South Carolina and do a out with the camp. football camp. After focusing on playing “It’s good to be back, let’s go have some for the Buffalo Bills his first three years, fun,” said Holloman, a former teammate of Gilmore finally decided it was time to do Gilmore’s at South Pointe. a camp. The coaches first asked the kids what’s Hence the first-ever “Skills and Drills” the most important thing you have to recamp hosted by Gilmore at his old high member when you’re on offense. One of school, South Pointe, on Wednesday, July them correctly answered holding onto the 8. Dozens of kids from the ages of 10-15 ball and the athletes showed the youngparticipated in drills and contests and lissters how to hold the ball “high and tight.” tened to advice from Gilmore and other After the basics were told, the kids split NFL players that came along to help out. into groups to run routes and play catch “I’ve always wanted to do this for my before splitting off into teams to play some high school,” Gilmore said. “I just wanted backyard football. to do a skills and drills camp for these kids Lunch came next and then the kids again because we have a lot of athletes in Rock broke off into groups where they got some Hill and I just wanted them to get out and one-on-one time with an athlete. The get better for one day and learn drills that questions ranged from “how big is your we do everyday.” house?” to “who is your favorite player to The camp started with an introducplay against in the NFL?” tion from the coaches that were present. While the drills may have been fun, that Gilmore, former Dallas Cowboy DeVonte one-on-one time may have been the most Holloman, Darian Stewart of the Denver important thing that happened. One of the Broncos, Landon Cohen of the Seattle main reasons that Gilmore wanted to do

All Gamecock, all the time? by brian hand Executive Editor

Obviously, that is what the Internet is for right now, but in this new digital age, one of my hopes is that one day this will be a reality. I’ve been watching and going to Gamecock The SEC Network does a fantastic job of covsporting events pretty much all of my life. ering the league and their top-notch coverage of In my family, you were a Gamecock or you the Gamecocks is unmatched, but what if there were a Gamecock. There was not another opwas a subsection on Watch ESPN, SEC Nettion. You could like other teams or rather appre- work + or GamecocksOnline.com even devoted ciate the way they played, but at the end of the just to past Gamecock games? Not like the day the Gamecocks were your favorite team. Longhorn Network, but more of a subsidiary I have always had one of those types of that did not necessarily have to rely on advertismemories where I could remember where I was ing or sponsorships. when a certain game happened. If I was in atIn this everchanging world where a la carte tendance, I could tell you what it was like from will be the way people take in their television the stands or if I was somewhere else watching through the Internet with devices such as Roku, the game, I could tell you where we were and Apple TV, Amazon TV and other avenues this what the experience was like. could happen one day. It’s just always been one of the things I have Like I said, this is just a pipe dream right now held on to closely. My Gamecock memories and rightfully so as it would take a lot of work define who I am and I am incredibly lucky to be for somebody and television rights would be a able to do what I do for a living. nightmare in some cases, but why not? With the Gamecock athletics takeover of Why couldn’t an all-Gamecock channel, or the SEC Network on Thursday, July 9, 2015, it an all-LSU or whoever channel happen at one got me thinking about all of these wonderful point? Gamecock memories that I - and I know all of The past says it would be tough to do, the you - hold dear. present says it is still a ways away, but who What if there was a channel dedicated solely knows what the future holds. to showing Gamecock games all day, every All Gamecock, all the time? Sounds good to day? How cool would that be? me.

photo by kyle heck

a camp was to show the kids how far hard work and determination can get you. “They look at you as role models,” Gilmore said. “Everybody wants to play in the NFL and I’m just trying to teach them to work hard. It takes hard work to get to the NFL. When you come back and show your

face, it gives them motivation that they can do the same thing.” Johnathan Joseph, a Rock Hill native himself, was glad for the opportunity to come back to his hometown and help out an old friend. “I’m just supporting Stephon, first and foremost,” Joseph said. “He’s a fellow Rock Hill native and fellow Gamecock and he’s in the NFL brotherhood. He’s a great friend of mine. The least I can do is come out here and interact with these kids and show my support.” South Pointe head football coach Strait Herron had similar feelings. He’s had plenty of his players go on to play at South Carolina and then the NFL and he never knows if they will remember their roots. For him, it was nice to see Gilmore and some of his other former players come back and share some knowledge with the community. “You wonder what happens once they sign those big contracts and they go away,” Herron said. “You wonder if you’ll ever see them or hear from them anymore. It’s great for them to take out half a day to come back and spend it with the kids. It’s exciting for the kids and it’s exciting for the coaches and players.”


16 • Spurs & Feathers

July 22, 2015

Photo by Kyle Heck of first brick being laid down

First commemorative brick laid at Williams-Brice Stadium by kyle heck Reporter

foundation for this plaza. So it’s a cool moment and it took a lot of hard work from a lot of people.” On Wednesday, July 15, 2015, the beauFund Raisers, Ltd. was the company tification process going on outside of Wilresponsible for handling the engraving proliams-Brice Stadium reached an important cess and it’s something they’re very used milestone. Inside the soon-to-be Springs to. Based out of Boise, Idaho, Fund Raisers Brooks Plaza at the intersection of Bluff Ltd. has worked with over 50 major league Road and George Rogers Boulevard, consports teams and universities working on struction workers began laying down the similar projects. customized bricks that many Gamecock There is a lot of behind the scenes work fans have been waiting months for. that has to go on before the company and In August of 2014, the Gamecock Club client can even think about laying the announced a Commemorative Brick Probricks down. gram that allowed Gamecock Club memFirst, Fund Raisers Ltd. had to take the bers and fans alike to purchase a limited orders over the phone and Internet before number of bricks that could hold 1-3 lines getting every single brick approved by the of personalized text. Nearly a year later, the company and the client. Letters are then first brick went into the sand. sent out to each purchaser making sure that “With the engraved bricks actually being the brick is going to say what it is supposed installed and put into the ground, it kind of to say. brings everything full circle with the entire Steve Baggerly, Chief Operating Officer brick campaign,” said Jay Brown, Assistant and Director of Technology, and Bond Director of the Gamecock Club. “It gives Hilliard, Project Coordinator, both traveled our fans an opportunity to literally lay the down from Boise to oversee the brick-lay-

ing process at Williams-Brice Stadium. They’ll be down in Columbia for two days making sure that every brick is where it’s supposed to be. “A lot of work goes in behind the scenes to making this thing happen,” Hilliard said. “But once it’s completed, everyone is just thrilled to see their bricks out here and it just helps create a really strong connection from the people that purchased the bricks to the project, this plaza, this school, stadium and all of that.” However, purchasers of the commemorative bricks will have to wait a little longer to see their bricks in person because the area in and around Springs Brooks Plaza is still a live construction zone. Brown said everyone who purchased a brick will get a locator map sent to them so they can find their bricks whenever the plaza is finished, which should be sometime shortly before the football season starts. When that time comes, there’s no question that it will be a special moment for the purchasers when they get to see their name

etched into the foundation of WilliamsBrice Stadium. “There’s families and Gamecock Club members that have been coming to games for 60, 70 years and it kind of commemorates all of that time and all of the memories that they’ve had here at WilliamsBrice,” Brown said. “To be able to put their name in the plaza here, that’s got to be special.” It’s also a special moment for Baggerly and Hilliard when they finally see the completed project that took months to unfold. “We’ve worked on a lot of projects like this and the response is generally really positive,” Hilliard said. “I would say that it’s been a huge pleasure working with Gamecock fans and students and we have gotten tremendous feedback. People share their stories with our customer service team and tell us what the subscription means and talk to us about how they have been season ticket holders for decades. Everyone is just very excited to have this opportunity.”


Spurs & Feathers • 17

July 22, 2015

South Carolina Gamecocks

Recruiting Round-up By Phil Kornblut

After a final visit to USC last Monday and a restless night of introspection, OL Will Putnam of Harrisburg, NC came to terms Tuesday on a commitment decision. And he chose USC over Virginia Tech becoming the first offensive lineman to commit to the Gamecocks for the 2016 class and the sixth overall (seventh counting 2015 carry over Octavious Johnson). Putnam took a pair of visits each to USC and Virginia Tech and spent a lot of time talking with coaches from both schools. He also looked Phil Kornblut closely at the business Contributing programs at the schools. Writer And the new facilities being erected at USC also impressed him. “It was definitely the connection I had with the coaches and the highly ranked business school at South Carolina that helped make my decision,” Putnam said. “I like all the new facilities coming around, all the new renovations and everything. They are building a new apartment complex for all the athletes. It’s just great. I like all the new stuff.” But there was more to USC that impressed Putnam than the brick and mortar. “My big thing was it is SEC football.,” he said. “Like, it doesn’t get any bigger than this. It is just such a great opportunity. It’s like a dream I’ve had as a kid to play for a big time school. I am going to train and play full heartedly. I also want to win and I’ll do whatever it takes. I definitely see another double digit win season coming up” Putnam plays left tackle and also plays on the defensive line. He said coaches tell him they love his speed and agility on the line. “I kind of pride myself on being flexible and being able to run,” he said. “I run a 5.0 constantly in the forty and my shuttle is around a 4.6.” WR Tre Jackson of Baton Rouge, LA appears to be on the fast track towards a decision. The speedy receiver and the son of former Florida star receiver Jack Jackson has his list down to USC, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Kansas State and Utah and he’s eyeing a decision between July 25th and 30th. Jackson was at USC’s Showcase last month and he went to a TCU camp in New Orleans as well. He wants to visit Oklahoma this month and he’s hoping to be able to attend USC’s social gathering on June 24th. “I’ve been in constant contact with Coach Spurrier Jr. and Coach Mangus,” he said. “They’ve been telling me I’ll have the choice to play at four positions… wide receiver, cornerback, kick returner or

punt returner. They’ll see what I want to do when I come in to play. That’s really the main thing they’ve been talking about,” Jackson said. It’s safe to say that USC and Oklahoma are at the top of his list but he’s still considering the other schools. And the fact his family has a past relationship with Steve Spurrier through his father is a factor. “He has a great relationship with my grandparents since he recruited my dad,” Jackson said. “He gives off the family vibe whenever I talk to him. We have a ton to talk about and that’s one connection he’s made with me that’s really helped them out a lot.” Jackson said he and Spurrier have talked once since his camp visit “just catching up.” He said his decision will come down to one simple item. “I look just for what feels best for me, the safe decision and whatever I can feel comfortable going to school for the next four years.” WR Kelvin Harmon of Palmyra, NJ is thinking hard about USC and some other programs this summer but plans to wait until the fall, at the earliest, before making a decision. Harmon wants to get a closer look at some schools via the official visit and will take some this fall before making is decision in late September or early October. USC, NC State and West Virginia are locks for three of those visits according to Harmon. Harmon camped at USC, North Carolina and NC State last month and won’t attend any more camps this summer. However, he might return to USC for the social outing planned for top targets later this month. He’s in regular contact with Gamecock recruiter GA Mangus and feels strongly about USC at this point. “If I had a leader, it would be them,” Harmon said. “I don’t want to name an official leader but South Carolina is in the best standing. I talked to Coach Mangus and he’s telling me how they need me there and he wants me to come down for a barbeque. And we were talking about recruiting and how bad they want me.” Harmon has his list down to USC, North Carolina, West Virginia, Temple, NC State and Rutgers. He said he is communicating the most at this point with USC, NC State and Temple and those three are recruiting him the hardest. WR Isaiah Graham (6-0 170) of Bastrop, LA was offered recently by USC and has the Gamecocks among his favorites. Graham had 48 catches for 1038 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. Graham said he’s been invited to the social gathering of prospects at USC later this month. He’s not made any visits or attended any camps this summer because of his seven on seven season. Besides USC he wants to visit Tennessee and Miami this summer. Graham has his list down to USC, Arkansas,

TCU, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Miami, Arizona State, Nebraska and Texas Tech and there is no favorite at this point. “South Carolina is really high on my list and probably will end up being in my top five,” he said. Graham wants to make a decision by the end of September and he will graduate early. LB PJ Blue of Montgomery, AL was not able to make it to USC’s camp in June but he plans to be at the one on July 25th, and a commitment to the Gamecocks at that time is possible. “South Carolina is my top school,” Blue said. “They have me as a top priority and they want me to play safety which is my preferred position, so I feel like I could possibly come in and fill a big need for them.” Blue is going to Alabama July 23rd and he’s also considering Ole Miss. On a scale of 1-10, Blue rated USC’s lead on the others as “six, but with the way I am, it could change at any moment.” So, right now Blue is the Gamecocks’ to lose. “Yeah, I guess you could put it like that,” Blue confirmed. DE Jordan Woods of Citra, FL has USC among his top six schools at the moment. “I love coach Steve Spurrier,” Woods said. “He doesn’t know how much I look at him as a figure head in college football. I believe he has the ability to be the greatest college coach of all time. I just love the way he plays the game. He made the spread. He made that whole offense. He revolutionized the quarterback position.” “I really like South Carolina,” Woods continued. “They’ve always been at the top of my conversations. I have to get there and see them. I actually like South Carolina. I root for South Carolina. What sets them up so well is they have a couple of defensive ends who are leaving after this season and they have a need there right now and I can make an immediate impact.” The rest of his lead pack are Florida, West Virginia, Louisville, Miami and Tennessee. He wants to visit all of his favorites this summer then take official visits to his final five schools before make his commitment. He visited Florida in June because it’s close to home and because the Gators are recruiting him hard. He’s not claiming a leader among his top six saying it was a brand new start for all of them when he cut his list to six. Last season Woods recorded 16 sacks along with 60 tackles. The Gamecocks missed on OL Jordan Johnson of Jacksonville when he committed to Georgia Tech last week. USC had recruited Johnson early and hard and had always been listed among his favorites. He attended the spring game and a camp last month in Columbia. At The Opening last week, RB Elijah Holy-

field of Atlanta and WR Kyle Davis of Decatur, GA released a top ten list, and USC made both. Holyfield has a top 10 of USC, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Louisville, Notre Dame, Miami, Oregon, Tennessee and Southern Cal. The top 10 for Davis, a former USC commitment, is USC, Auburn, Cal, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Ohio State, Ole Miss and Tennessee. Neither top 10 is in order.

Basketball Notes: USC coach Frank Martin offered 6-4 shooting guard Jakolby Long of Mustang, OK according to PrepHoopsOklahoma. The Gamecocks, however, may be a long shot for Long who has said he wants to play close to home so that his family can watch him. He is coached by his father. Some of his other offers are SMU, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Texas Tech, DePaul, Ole Miss, Wichita State, Kansas State, Houston and others. USC offered 6-8 Brison Gresham of New Orleans for the 2016 class. His other offers include Mississippi State, Alabama, Baylor and Boston College. Martin also offered 6-6 Jalen Johnson of Durham, NC, 2017 guard Devontae Shuler of Irmo and 2017 guard David Beatty of Philadelphia. USC target 6-11 Nysier Brooks of Burlington, NJ committed to Cincinnati. 6-1 Seventh Woods of Hammond said in an interview with Rivals at the Under Armour All American Camp in Charlotte last week that despite reports, he’s not down to just USC and UNC. Woods also identified Florida, Kansas and Georgetown as others he’s considering at this point. Martin scouted Woods last Wednesday night in Atlanta. USC signee 6-10 Eric Cobb did not make it into USC for second session of summer school but is expected to enroll in August. His prep school coach said the NCAA Clearinghouse has Cobb’s transcripts and he’s a half credit short at this point of qualifying. And 6-11 commitment Travon Bunch, who had said he was enrolling for second session of summer school, also did not make it in. 2017 prospect 6-2 Tariq Simmons of Keenan plans to take an unofficial visit to USC Friday according to Corey Evans of Roundball Rundown Report. Baseball News: 2017 RHP Shane Roberts of Jupiter, FL committed to USC Monday. He gives USC 8 commitments for the class. Roberts was also drawing interest from Florida State, Florida, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia and Vanderbilt.


18 • Spurs & Feathers

July 22, 2015

Gamecock women’s soccer excited to see game’s growth in the U.S. by brian hand Executive Editor The 2015 Women’s World Cup final was the most-watched soccer game in United States history - men’s or women’s. The United States’ triumphant 5-2 championship-clinching victory over Japan in the final was seen by 25.4 million viewers on Fox. Couple that with the almost 1.3 million viewers who watched the game on Telemundo in the United States and the combined 26.7 million tuned in to the game in the United States exceeded the original record of the 26.5 million that watched the 2014 Men’s World Cup final in which Germany beat Argentina. A group that was watching the final, and the rest of the tournament for that matter, was the South Carolina women’s soccer program. The Gamecocks did not have a former player on the team, but just like most everyone else in the United States, the group was excited to see the women’s national team pick up their world’s-best third World Cup title (first since 1999). “It’s a lot of pride for the country,” South Carolina women’s soccer head coach Shelley Smith said. “It’s really neat to see these women take it upon themselves to do such a good job to represent the country.” Smith and the rest of South Carolina’s coaching staff are just thrilled to see the game continue to grow in the United States. “It’s nice to see the game grow,” Smith noted. “To see that it’s televised. The coverage was tremendous. Every time they’ve had the World Cup it’s gotten better and better with the viewing and the people that are interested. A lot of it has to do with the media. They put them in a spotlight that they never were before. It was pretty exciting. I think there has been a lot more respect for the game. A lot of people still kind of dismiss women’s sports in general, but I think when they look (on TV) and see ‘oh, wow, this is pretty good’ or ‘they are tough’ (it changes perceptions). They play at a high level, they play quickly. It’s nice to see more and more respect for the game on both sides - men’s and women’s.” South Carolina women’s soccer may not have had a player on this year’s World Cup roster, but it’s easy to see from the SEC championships in the past and the program advancing to their first-ever Elite Eight this past season that may change soon. “We always try to market ourselves and promote that it is a neat environment for the

photo by Allen sharpe

young kids to come out and learn and see these players that are playing at a high level to finish where we did last year and the past few years,” Smith relayed. “You’re seeing women that have chances to play at the World Cup level and pro. Sabrina (D’Angelo) is a good example of what kind of talent and will play for her country (Canada) in four years (at the World Cup). Taylor (Leach) is off playing (professionally). We’ve had plenty of players play pro. The better our program gets and the more solid the players coming in are we’ll hopefully put more and more of those players in the position to represent the country one day.” Reigning SEC Freshman of the Year Savannah McCaskill is a perfect example of one of the Gamecocks who may one day see action at the international level with the senior national team. McCaskill earlier this year was named to the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team training camp. She was the third Gamecock in program history to be called into the camp, joining Blakely Mattern and

Kayla Grimsley. In addition to McCaskill, incoming freshman Simone Wark was called into the Jamaican senior national team camp, while incoming freshmen Carrie Lawrence recently wrapped up a week with the U.S. U-19 Women’s National Team. Incoming goalkeeper Hunter Peifer has also seen action at the U-20 Women’s National Team Camp. “The fact that these girls are already getting looks it’s a huge advantage to have that kind of talent just to start with and then we can mold them into even better players in four years,” Smith said. These incoming players come into a situation where the Gamecocks play in front of arguably the greatest fan base in college soccer with the women’s soccer program second nationally in average attendance at 2,683 fans per game, while the South Carolina men’s team is sixth nationally at an average of 2,602 fans per game. “We tell prospects that we do have one of

the best crowds in the country,” Smith stated. “For sure we’re selling that and the stadium atmosphere. We’re trying to get players here to experience it before they get here.” All-in-all, it is certain the national brand that is Gamecock women’s soccer program will forever continue to promote the beautiful game in the midlands, the Palmetto State and beyond. “We try and do a lot with the community with our camps and clinics and going out to the Y (YMCA) and all of that,” Smith closed. “We reach out and in turn they love coming back (to the games) and cheering on the team. That relationship between the players and the young rising stars it’s a really neat environment for both sides. To have them cheering in the stands is great for our team and to have them get to know our players, but also go out and watch them play and learn from them to be their mentors in a way, I think it’s a great relationship. We’re glad to have the opportunity to get out in the community throughout the year when we can.”


Spurs & Feathers • 19

July 22, 2015

Snyder: A few midsummer musings

In 2000 I received, how I shall say this, several tourist attractions would have gained from the “strongly worded” letters objecting to my stance visitors who attend these events. on the Confederate flag issue. I had written that I don’t believe that anyone will deny that the while I was very proud of my Southern heritage, state legislature had the flag hoisted atop the I had never flown a Confederate flag in my yard state house dome in 1961 as an open defiance of or had a bumper sticker on my car, because not the Civil Rights movement. Although I underonly was the image offensive to so stand the passions of those who many people, it was also hurting lost relatives in the War Between the university I love, the city of the States, I felt strongly that Columbia and the entire state. something so divisive should not I took this stance because of the be allowed to stand. NAACP sanctions, and the fact Coach Steve’s first comments that the NCAA had declared that on the issue came back in 2007, USC could not host any champiafter ESPN’s College Game Day onships. This meant that both the was in town in 2006 for the Tenuniversity and the city could not nessee game, and a fan was seen benefit from the revenues these waving the Confederate flag in events would produce. Lost was the background. “(It) was embarthe opportunity to showcase our Glenn Snyder rassing to me, and I know embarschool, as were the many dollars Inside rassing to our state,” he said at the which our hotels, restaurants and Look time. After the tragic shooting

of nine people in a Charleston church he spoke up again. “I realize I’m not supposed to get in the political arena as a football coach, but if anybody were ever to ask me about that damn Confederate flag, I would say we need to get rid of it. I’ve been told not to talk about that. But if anyone were ever to ask me about it, I certainly wish we could get rid of it. I can’t believe that racist flag is still flying in 2015.” No matter which side of this issue you are on, the fact is that “what’s done is done” and hopefully the removal of the flag will be a giant step toward a more united and even more prosperous South Carolina.

by brian hand Executive Editor

We all knew though it might be the last time we watched a predetermined NCAA event in the state of South Carolina because the year before the In 2002, the city of Greenville, South Carolina executive committee of the National Collegiate hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA Athletic Association declared a moratorium as Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. long as the Confederate battle flag flew on State I was a junior in college at the time and knowing House grounds. Greenville was able to host the that it was a rarity and it being my college spring 2002 regional because they were awarded hosting break, my father purchased tickets for us to attend responsibilities before the moratorium was put in every game. place. Being an inspiring media member as well and a As of Thursday, July 9, 2015, that moratorium is then current college student-athlete, I offered my no more as University of South Carolina President services for whatever was needed and some of the and current NCAA Division I Board of Directors connections I made that week helped lead to even- Chairman Dr. Harris Pastides relayed on Twitter: tual jobs at The Greenville News and the Southern “The NCAA restriction on predetermined post Conference for me. It was really special. season competition in South Carolina will no lonGreenville’s hosting of the first and second ger apply. A long time coming.” round of the tournament received rave reviews Financially this decision means a great deal in from all of those that were involved that I person- the future to the Palmetto State as bowl games, ally talked with and those that commented in The predetermined NCAA Tournament games and Greenville News and even nationally. much more could now be played in the state of

“This (upcoming NCAA Tournament) weekend will bring $10 million in direct spending,” Santo said to the KSN-TV station in Wichita, Kansas. “That’s on food, restaurants and hotels; $10 million in our community. It’s going to be a lot of fun, but it has a bit of an economic impact as well.” That type of money can go a long way for any community. South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner photo by allen sharpe said recently he welcomes the opportunity to try and host predetermined events in the future. South Carolina. In addition, the prestige and honor “Not only for this building, but for the state of of hosting NCAA events for a city and a state can- South Carolina,” Tanner said. “This is a tremennot be overstated or truly accounted for. dous building we have here. There have been Nevertheless, the money can for the most part, some opportunities that have not been possible in which is why when Wichita, Kansas, was award- the past that we would get a chance to engage in ed the rights to host the first and second rounds of … certainly with this kind of venue (Colonial LIfe the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball TournaArena) we would be in a situation to bid for the ment, Go Wichita President and CEO Susie Santo opportunities to bring to Columbia for all the right reasons to stimulate the economy and to bring a lot speculated just how much it could mean for their of fan excitement here.” city.

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now everybody is working very hard and on the same page,” Diggs said. “The new guys came in and hit the ground running, and they really are going to help make us a better team. Our theme is that last year is history, and we’re going to be the team we were the three years before.” Asked about new co-defensive Jon Hoke, I could hear him gushing over the phone. “I love him. He’s brought in some new schemes and a new enthusiasm. Actually he’s made some things simpler than they were. There is no question we’re going to be a lot better on defense.” Diggs was even more excited about his position change from Spur to safety. “I made several all-star teams (Florida Times-Union Super I have spoken to several players, most recently 7, Mobile (Ala.) Register Super 120) and was Jordan Diggs about summer workouts and was invited to the U.S. Army All-American Game as a safety and it’s my more natural position. I encouraged by what he said. One of the first words out of his mouth was “chemistry.” It’s no think it gives me a chance to be my best. We’re secret that there were several “bad apples on last going to have a great season.” It’s a great time to be a Gamecock! year’s squad. “Those guys are gone and right

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20 • Spurs & Feathers

July 22, 2015

Five bold predictions for the Gamecocks in 2015 Talking season officially comes to a close this week for college football coaches with SEC Media Days taking place in Hoover, Alabama. On the other hand, it is time for media members to ramp up their talk with wild predictions, bold statements and the over analyzing of every small tidbit that passes across our desk. With that in mind, let me be the first to present you with five bold predictions for the Gamecocks in 2015.

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Park and Malik Young. Mike Matulis will win the starting left tackle position if healthy but Mason Zandi and potentially Christian Pellage are waiting in the wings if needed. Matulis will be the vital cog however as his experience and ability should cement a group of linemen that should will not take a back seat able to any defensive line the Gamecocks face in 2015. Brandon Wilds will run for 1,000 yards This is building off the above bold prediction. When the Gamecocks offensive line performs Connor Mitch becomes a success at the level that I expect, it will make Wilds the What is a success you ask? Well, I think Con- star of the offense. Consider that since the arnor Mitch will grab complete control of the rival of offensive line coach Shawn Elliott, the starting quarterback role and prove to be tough Gamecocks have had 1,000 yard rushers in two to unseat. Why you ask? Let’s remember that of his first five season’s. In 2011, Lattimore was Mitch was very highly regarded coming out of going to easily pass 1,000 but tore his ACL and high school. The Gamecocks had to beat out last year Mike Davis was 13 yards short (Imagseveral other high profile schools for the North ine if he had been in better shape and broken a Carolina product. After the production of few more tackles). Wilds has been more than former quarterbacks Connor Shaw and Dylan serviceable when given his opportunity and Thompson, people have forgotten about one provided he can stay healthy (his only bug-athe highest rated quarterback to be recruited boo) he should surpass the 1,000 yard marker to Columbia in the Spurrier era. With proven before the regular season ender vs. Clemson. running backs, a wide receiver that could be South Carolina will win nine games drafted in the first two rounds and a solid ofLet’s start with my thought process that fensive line, Mitch will be just fine this season the Gamecocks will play in no fewer than 13 throwing for at least 2,800 yards and a touchgames this coming season (12 regular season, down to interception ratio of three to one when one bowl game). I am not sure if the Gamethe season is over. cocks will need to win the bowl game to reach Bryson Allen-Williams becomes the star of the nine win plateau in 2015 but I am willing to the defense say the Gamecocks will reach that goal. Why? The Gamecocks defensive staff kept to their For starters, I am not sold on the Gamecocks word last season that Allen-Williams would 2015 schedule. While tough, I have questions play despite the fact that he was likely not regarding Georgia (Do they have a quarterready. Now he is and looks poised to be the back?) Missouri (Can they continue to replace breakout player for a linebacker group that defensive lineman?), LSU (Again quarterback could be in the top three of the conference. and depth on offensive line), Tennessee (Are While media may rave about his talents (there they just a product of hype, ala the Gamecocks was a reason Georgia and Alabama desperin 2014?), Florida (lacking offensive playmakately wanted him) during fall camp, the key ers, a proven quarterback and a new coaching for Allen-Williams is his leadership characstaff) and Clemson (Loss of defensive line, ofteristics that will make him the star. Jon Hoke fensive line and offensive coordinator). badly needs a vocal, on-field coach and that is precisely what the sophomore linebacker will Maybe you are one of the people who is curprovide. rently down and in the dumps right now, you The Offensive Line will be the best of the haven’t shaken off the after affects of 2014 and Spurrier era I understand. The Gamecocks lost four-year starter A.J. However, the Gamecocks have recruited Cann and left tackle staple Cowell for the last five years and rey Robinson but offensive line players are ready to step in and coach Shawn Elliott has recruitcontribute. ed extremely well the past sevJon Hoke brings fresh ideas eral years and has guys ready to and better organization on the step in. Brandon Shell and Alan defensive side of the ball. Knott return to give the line The bottom line when I look anchors and it appears highly at the season is that I do not see recruited Donell Stanley of any team that is downright betLatta, S.C. is ready to step into ter than the Gamecocks (I also Cann’s shoes. The right guard don’t see many the Gamecocks position battle will not be the are downright better than). sexy position to discuss during With that in mind, I think it will fall camp, however Will Sport be a bounce back year and the Bill Gunter will have to hold off strong chalGamecocks finish the overall Contributing lenges from capable players D.J. season with nine victories. Writer


Spurs & Feathers • 21

July 22, 2015

Camps, player development highlight Martin’s summer by kyle heck Reporter South Carolina men’s basketball head coach Frank Martin has noticed something new this year in the Gamecocks’ summer camps for young kids. As the youngsters are running around and taking shots, Martin is noticing they’re calling out familiar names as they let the shots fly. “As we’ve had our camps, we’ve got little kids running around saying ‘Sindarius Thornwell’ or ‘Duane Notice’ as they’re playing games,” Martin said. “That’s what it’s about, our players going out and embracing the community and playing the game the right way and winning some games so we’re relevant and people talk about our team. Then you have those young kids that grow up and want to be the next Sindarius or the next Duane or Michael Carrera.” Martin is helping lead his camps while also getting his players, particularly his in“When you couple that with a group of coming freshman, ready for the upcoming freshmen that we think is the most talented season. In P.J. Dozier’s first week on camthat we’ve recruited, as a coach, you tend to pus as a Gamecock, Martin kept seeing him sleep a little better,” Martin added. in the same place over and over again. That talented freshmen class includes “He came in the weight room and him Dozier, a McDonald’s All-American, and and the garbage can became best friends Chris Silva, a top-100 player in the country. that first week,” Martin said. “Every time I Both of those players turned down scholarturned around, his head was inside it. He’s ships from schools like Louisville, North such a talented human being as a person, a Carolina, Michigan, Georgetown, Villanova teammate and obviously as a player.” and Syracuse to come to South Carolina That is an example that shows how hard and both are already on campus. the transition is from high school basketball Martin had high praise for the way that to college basketball. However, for the first Dozier performed in Chicago at the Mctime in Martin’s three years at South Caro- Donald’s All-American game. lina, the freshmen will have a solid core of “Think about this,” Martin said. “He goes experienced players to lean on for advice. to the McDonald’s All-American game as The Gamecocks return the vast majora kid from Columbia. They practice for ity of their team from last season, a club seven days and then they go play the game. that caught fire at the end of the year and The guy coaching his team is a longtime finished with a 17-16 record. It was South high school coach from the city of Chicago. Carolina’s first winning season since the The highest-rated point guard on the team 2008-09 year. The returning players like is on his (high school) team. After seven Thornwell and Notice now know what it practices, they started P.J. and he played the takes to win games and they also know how majority of the minutes. That kind of shows hard they’ve worked to turn the program who he is and how good he is as a person around. and a player.” “Our upperclassmen are great,” In addition to those two playMartin said. “Our attention to ers, Martin also added six-foot, detail, our sense of urgency and ten-inch 275 pound forward Eric our commitment to each other Cobb, six-foot, seven-inch 230 right now is the best that it’s been pound forward Raymond Doby since I’ve been here. That’s just and six-foot, four-inch guard because of experience. We’ve got Jamall Gregory for the upcomguys that have lived it, breathed ing year. it, embraced it, lost together and Those players make the Gamewon together. They’ve got the cocks a bigger, more physical All Gamecock taste all the way around. They team and Martin gave credit to basketball understand that they’re not freshhis coaching staff for fulfilling coverage men anymore. That sense of urthe needs of the club in the offsponsored by gency continues to grow. season. Yesterdays

photo by kyle heck

“We think those guys are going to be great,” said Martin of the freshmen. “Every year our staff and my assistant coaches do a great job. I say ‘this is what we need’ and they go out and identify our needs along with the personalities that are going to fit who we are. I think they’ve done it again.”

The bigger players that are joining the Gamecocks make Martin feel better about something else, as well. “I just don’t want to be the heaviest guy on the team anymore,” Martin joked. “That’s embarrassing when someone says who’s the biggest guy on the team and it’s the coach.” So while Martin is preparing his players for a new season, he’ll also spend his time in the summer coaching kids up and giving them advice he’s learned throughout his life. That’s why camps like the Little Gamecock camp are so beneficial to young kids. There aren’t many other places you can go to hear advice from a man who went from a bouncer at a bar all the way to being a successful head coach at a major Division-I school. Martin hopes the kids, both the ones at the camp and on his team, will be able to learn something and create bonds that last a lifetime. “It creates a bond and a friendship,” Martin said of his players interaction with the campers. “I know there are some professional athletes that struggle with this, but it creates a role model for these kids to look up to and say, ‘you know what, I want to grow up and do that one day.’ That’s what it’s about.”

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22 • Spurs & Feathers

July 22, 2015

Former Gamecocks still working together at Lake Murray CrossFit by kyle heck Reporter Playing baseball at the University of South Carolina in the early 2000s, Garris Gonce and Aaron Rawl were part of some historic teams. The only year that Gonce and Rawl played together, 2002, the Gamecocks won 57 games, an SEC Championship and played in the national championship game. Gonce graduated after that season, but Rawl went on to participate in two more College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. However, after those glory days, both players returned to normal lives, working 40 hours a week. They no longer spent most of their time in the gym and on the baseball field and their bodies suffered because of that. “You got away from the structure of going to the gym three to four days a week because you have to and it’s part of your schedule and you don’t have to make time because it’s made for you,” said Gonce, who as an outfielder on the 2002 team hit 16 home runs and drove in 55 runs. “You get done with the organization of that and the structure and get involved in real life with work and all that fun stuff and your metabolism starts to slow a little bit. Just to be honest with you, I got in really bad shape and got up to probably 230 pounds.” That was until a friend and former Gamecock teammate, Chris Spigner, introduced him to CrossFit, a strength and conditioning program that is quickly becoming more and more popular. Gonce quickly fell in love to try and get more people to join. with CrossFit and eventually got back into Nearly two years later, the duo says that shape. “Yeah it was difficult; anything that works their gym has around 100 members, which is difficult, but I had a really good coach and is around average for a CrossFit facility. he scaled it appropriately for Because there is a lot less me,” Gonce said. “Gradually, people at CrossFit gyms than they made it a little bit harder at a Gold’s Gym, for example, over time as I was ready for it the members are able to inand just started to get results.” teract with each other more, Around a year and a half ago, which Gonce says is another Gonce got a call from Rawl, benefit. who had seen the improve“CrossFit gyms are anyment in Gonce and wanted to All Gamecock baseball where from 50 to 200 membe a part of it. The two went coverage sponsored by bers,” Gonce said. “It just deDiPrato’s to do a workout at the baseball pends on where you’re at and stadium together and Gonce showed Rawl one which one you’re going to. So everybody of his CrossFit workouts. knows everybody. There’s structure to it. I Just like Gonce, Rawl became hooked. think it’s getting popular because honestly it They decided to open up a CrossFit facility just works. It gives you good results.” in Lexington, S.C., Lake Murray CrossFit, Both Gonce and Rawl participated in the

Photos (left Rawl, right Gonce) courtesy of South Carolina Athletics Media Relations

most recent CrossFit Open, a worldwide competition in which more than 200,000 people compete in. The CrossFit Open allowed the two former stars to show some of that competitive fire they developed from their baseball playing days. They still keep up with the Gamecocks and were some of the biggest supporters when South Carolina won its back-to-back national championships in 2010 and 2011. Both Gonce and Rawl came agonizingly close to winning a title themselves, but were happy that the Gamecocks finally got it done. “That was stinking awesome,” said Rawl, who made nearly 45 starts as a pitcher in his four years with the Gamecocks. “I was sitting there watching it on TV and there wasn’t anyone yelling louder than me. I’m surprised they didn’t hear me all the way out

there from my living room.” For now, they’ll continue to work out at Lake Murray CrossFit and try and continue to grow their business and help people in the Midlands. “The first two years of business is the toughest and if you can make it through that, it gets easier,” Gonce said. “We’ve been happy with how we’ve been doing and are still trying to grow. We’re not far off from where we want to be. We just have to continue to put a really good product on the ground and hopefully people will recognize that we’re passionate about what we do and come to us.” To learn more about Lake Murray CrossFit, you can visit the official website at www.lakemurraycrossfit.com. You can also like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at @LMCrossfit.


Spurs & Feathers • 23

July 22, 2015

Record set with 8,860 community service hours by brad muller South Carolina Director of Content

a big part of who I am. Just to put a smile on somebody else’s face also brightens my day. My favorite thing that I’ve done in the last South Carolina student-athletes not only year was helping with the homeless. I helped performed well on the field/court and in the house them at an overnight shelter and also classroom during the 2014-15 school year, but helped feed them. I remember one guy was the Gamecocks also set a new school record eating with his hands, and we gave him some with 8,860 hours of community service. It silverware, and he almost started crying bemarks the second year in a row that the Game- cause he had become so used to not having cocks have broken their own record for giving any silverware to eat with. That was a really back to the community after tallying 7,739 eye-opening experience for me.” hours the previous year. Evans added that she often forgets to log “We topped last year’s school record by her service hours because she simply enjoys over one thousand hours,” said Erica Nelson, doing it. Director of Life Skills and Community Out“She definitely gets it,” Nelson said. “I think reach. “Almost half of our teams improved she just has a passion for it. She feels the need their number from the previous year. The to give back.” teams, coaches and the community really just Whether it’s volunteering at homeless facilicame together. More of our community part- ties, local schools, food banks, homes for the ners are coming back to me saying they’ve elderly, hospitals, or various other shelters, had a good experience with our student-aththere is no short supply of organizations lookletes, and they’d like them to come out again.” ing for help, and the Gamecocks are happy to The total results in an average of 17 hours fill in where needed. of community service per student-athlete. All “We go to Transitions, which serves meals 21 of South Carolina’s programs engaged in to the homeless, on a weekly basis during the community service throughout the year, with academic year,” Nelson said. “We had people the women’s soccer team taking home top serving breakfasts before they went to class, honors for the second consecutive year with and we had members of the swimming and the most hours of service per student-athlete. diving team go on their own to serve dinner “I think it’s really important for our team to on the first Sunday of every month. We have a be involved because of all the support we remiddle school and elementary school partner, ceived from the community,” said Emily Ball, and they’ll call us up when they’re having a a rising senior on the women’s soccer team. reading day, so we’ll send a team or a group of “A lot of our fans are really young, so it’s student-athletes over there to do that. A lot of important for us to set a good example. One our student-athletes go to the Ronald McDonof my favorite things was a free clinic that we ald house to help out with some of their major put on in the spring. We have a lot of young initiatives.” girls who come out and are just so excited to A common result is not only that those in be there.” need receive some assistance, but that the “We ask every team to do at least one student-athletes receive an education outside project,” Nelson said. “That’s never been a of the classroom. problem. Many of our coaches have their own “It humbled me,” Evans said. “It made me foundations, and we’ve been able to build off appreciate what a lot of people take for grantof that. The teams do it because it’s the right ed – even simple things like food and shelter.” thing to do, but they’re also very competitive “I always feel like I get a lot out of it,” Ball with each other. The award really seems to added. “It’s nice to gain some perspective.” feed some of those competitive juices.” With the Gamecocks continuing to offer Maya Evans from the women’s track and their services within the community, some field team was the individual leader with 313 area non-profits have come to depend on their service hours, and enjoyed her experiences assistance. working with the homeless and children. “More of our student-athletes are getting “I really love community service and helpcomfortable with going out and doing this,” ing people,” Evans said. “That’s always been Nelson said. “The first thing I’ll ask a student-

athlete is, ‘What do you want to do?’ I’m not going to send them somewhere if they’re not comfortable in a particular environment. They can choose the types of places, so that helps. I’ve had some student-athletes say that they don’t do it to get credit for it, and that they do it because it’s the right thing to do.” It’s not uncommon for multiple teams to sign up for certain larger events. “Any time I can get a number of teams together on a project, it always works because it helps to build camaraderie,” Nelson said. “I really don’t have to do a big job selling community service.” One way this is evident is with the football program’s annual Pigskin Poets program, where student-athletes read to area children at the Richland County Public Library. “Pigskin Poets is really popular, and so

is anything we do that involved children,” Nelson said. “The reason why I know I can always get student-athletes for this one is because normally it is set up for freshmen, but I get juniors and seniors every year that want to come back and do it again. When the studentathlete is enjoying it as much as our community partner, it’s a win-win. “The Columbia community gives so much to all of our teams with their passion, their time and their disposable income, so we want to give back to them. It’s a good thing to do, and the student-athletes feel good after they’ve done it. I remind them that you never know the impact you are going to have on a young child or an elderly person who may feel forgotten. It means a lot. I have a lot of repeat visitors because they had a good experience the first time.”


24 • Spurs & Feathers

July 22, 2015

photo by allen sharpe

Athletics Director Ray Tanner (left) and Gamecock track and field head coach Curtis Frye (right) with the Creggers at the Sheila and Morris Cregger Track Stadium groundbreaking in May.

Creggers honor Welch, helps women’s basketball program for years to come by kyle heck Reporter

coach Muffet McGraw and some of her players came up to an obviously distraught Welch and comforted her. There was just something that stood out to Shortly after that, the Creggers got the opSheila and Morris Cregger when they watched portunity to meet Welch for the first time. Aleighsa Welch play basketball. The intangi- What stood out to them from afar did so in bles, unselfishness and attitude person. that the now-former Gamecock “She's just a well-spoken and had were something that exemvery humble person,” Morris said. plified a true team player. “Wherever she goes in her life, The Creggers went down to she's going to do very, very well.” Tampa, Florida to watch South Welch impressed the Creggers so Carolina participate in the Final much that on their way back home, Four this past April. After a narMorris turned to his wife with an row one-point loss to Notre Dame idea. All Gamecock in the semifinals, the Creggers “I said, 'you know, we really need basketball witnessed just how much Welch to do something for Aleighsa,'” coverage loves the game and also how much Morris said. “She's just a very spesponsored by respect she has around the councial girl. So we called and found Yesterdays try. out how endowed scholarships After the buzzer sounded, Welch dropped work with the University.” to the court and let the tears flow along with With that, the Aleighsa Welch endowed some of her teammates. Notre Dame head scholarship was born. It is the first such

scholarship in the history of either basketball program. The only other two endowed scholarships the school has are in football, where former stars Tommy Suggs and Marcus Lattimore have been honored with endowed scholarships. In four years with South Carolina, Welch became one of the most successful players in program history. She was a three-time team captain and one of four Gamecocks to record 1,000 points and 900 rebounds in a career in addition to helping South Carolina reach four NCAA Tournaments and the school's first ever Final Four in 2015. “That was the main reasoning, just the feelings that we had for her, not only for her play, but just the mannerism in which she approached the game,” said Morris, an athlete in college himself. “You could see the love and respect her teammates had for her on the court.” The scholarship will allow head coach Dawn Staley and the Gamecocks to now use

the money that used to go to a scholarship for other things that will help with the enhancement of the program. The Creggers have enjoyed watching Staley take the Gamecocks to unprecedented heights. They now believe that South Carolina has reached the elite level where the Gamecocks will compete in Final Fours year in and year out. They also understand that Welch was one of the first players to help South Carolina begin its rise and set the foundation for future classes. With the endowed scholarship, the Creggers have now made sure that future Gamecock women's basketball players will know what kind of player and person Welch was and follow in her footsteps. “To us, the most important thing was kind of memorializing Aleighsa Welch so people won't forget that how you play the game is just as important as the skills you have for the game,” Morris said.


July 22, 2015

Spurs & Feathers • 25

AS34-1294327


26 • Spurs & Feathers

July 22, 2015

photo by allen sharpe

Gamecocks sweat it out for a good cause them about the disease, but it’s even better when they come up to me and ask me personally about my cousin,” Potter said of his The brutal heat wasn’t enough to keep dozteammates. “They keep asking if he’s going to ens of South Carolina football student-athletes be able to come down and last season, we got from helping to raise awareness for a rare him down for a game and he just went crazy. I disease. don’t even know how many Gamecock towels The players participated in the third annual and shirts he owns now.” Lift for Life event on Friday, June 26, at the Church recently had a surgery to straighten new outdoor practice facility. The event is his spine and Potter said his cousin had his organized by the South Carolina chapter of stuffed Cocky mascot close at hand. Uplifting Athletes. The Gamecocks are hopChapter president Devin Washington said he ing to raise awareness and funds to research was impressed with how many of the studentthe rare disease Pelizaues Merbacher (PMD), athletes came out to participate in the event for which hits close to home for a South Carolina a good cause. student-athlete. “The guys have known about it for awhile Fourth-year junior Devin Potter has a cousin, and they showed up ready to put on a little Aaron Church, that is affected by PMD, a performance,” said Washington, who is trying disease that affects the central nervous system to get Church down for another football game and is sometimes confused with Cerebral this upcoming season. “It’s hot and steamy out Palsy because of how rare it is. here, but we’re going to play in conditions like For Potter, it’s a special feeling knowing that this, so it’s also preparing us for the season.” he has so many teammates that are genuinely The chapter is run strictly by the studentconcerned for his cousin and want to help in athletes and Washington, whose own football any way possible. career was cut short by injuries, had help from “They know about the cause and we tell Ali Groves, Drew Williams and Perry Orth in

organizing the event. “Those guys have definitely been involved,” Washington said. “They’ve come to meetings with me and sat down with the heads of compliances and things like that. They’ve been very helpful and gotten the guys to spread the word about the event.” The players separated into teams and competed in strength events that included powerdriving sleds across the ground, flipping tires and racing each other while carrying heavy weights. The event ended with a tug-of-war competition. With the high temperatures, everyone was sweaty and worn out by the end of the event. However, they all knew they were playing a pivotal role in raising awareness for PMD, something that was not lost on Potter. “Just to know that there are people out there that care about it and want to help my cousin and others with this disease, because there’s not a lot known about it,” Potter said. To help support the South Carolina chapter reach their $5,000 goal, visit the chapter fundraising site. In addition, if you’re interested in buying a Lift for Life t-shirt, please visit up-

liftingathletes.myshopify.com/products/2015south-carolina-lift-for-life-t-shirt. For more information about Uplifting Athletes, visit their website at www.upliftingathletes.org.

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Spurs & Feathers • 27

July 22, 2015

Gamecock alumni take GameFish Cup by kyle heck Reporter In a game that brought back a lot of memories for plenty of people, the South Carolina alumni team defeated the Lexington County Blowfish, 7-4, on Friday, July 3. It was the ninth installment of the exhibition game that features Gamecock legends from the past. The game allowed for a lot of former teammates to reunite and see how much of their skills remained from their playing days. Alumni coach Trey Dyson put it best when describing the situation. “Just like every year, we’re very, very excited,” the former first baseman said before the game. “It’s a fun time for us to be able to put on that Carolina uniform again and compete against young kids who are in great shape and play baseball every day of their lives while guys like me are sitting in a desk everyday.” Despite that, the alumni team got the win and improved its record in the series to 4-5. photo of alumni by allen sharpe Dyson, who’s been the head coach all nine years, attributes that to the high level athletes causes frequent seizures. Walker’s father, Andy alumni game. Shanahan also makes a donathat play for the Gamecock baseball team “Bill loves this game,” Dyson said. “He Phillips, played baseball at The Citadel and was tion to the alumni teams’ cause after each year in and year out. loves helping out people and this is certainly “Part of the reason that Carolina baseball on Dyson’s Coastal Plain League team (Wilm- game. something that is very special to him as well.” has been so successful over the years is ington Sharks) in 2000. because of the types of guys they recruit,” “It feels great to be able to help out,” Dyson Dyson said. “That’s guys that know how to said. “We don’t raise a ton of money, but it compete and know how to win and who give does feel great to be able to give back and it their all every single time they step out on have the community come together to supthe field.” port a cause that is much bigger than baseAaron Rawl started the game, just like he ball.” did in the 2002 National Championship fiJuly 3, the day of the alumni game, marked nal against Texas. After a solid relief job by a year to the day that Walker started having The Fanatics are going again to all of the Gamecocks Hunter Privette, former stars John Taylor and seizures. He and his family are back home away football games. There are a limited number of game Matt Price closed out the game. Price got the and Walker is showing signs of improvement. tickets available to each game. Reserve your space NOW! save, a phrase heard dozens of times while A standing-room only crowd of 3,067 fans the Sumter native was helping South Carolina turned out to watch the Blowfish and some of win back-to-back National Championships. their favorite Gamecock baseball players. Sept. 3 USC vs. North Carolina Charlotte, NC Bryan Triplett doubled twice and had a RBI Former stars Garris Gonce, Adam Westmo2 meals - Lunch & dinner and setups. Game time 6:00 pm. while Kyle Enders had two RBIs to lead the reland, Adam Matthews and Robert Beary alumni offense. The Gamecocks received a lot were some of the other players that particiof help from the Blowfish, who committed five pated in the game. Landon Powell was the OUT GA Sept. 19 USC vs. Georgia SOLDAthens, errors during the game. That had a lot to do coach of the team. with the fact that the Blowfish tried out a lot of Count Price, the SEC career leader in saves, 2 meals - Lunch & dinner and setups. Game time 6:00 :00 pm. players at different positions in as one of the ones who was the exhibition game. excited to play with some faHowever, more important miliar faces. Oct. 29 - Nov. 2 USC vs. Texas A&M College Station, TX than who won or lost the game “It’s going to be a good time,” 5 days, 4 nights - 12 meals and setups. One night in Jackson, MS, Two nights in Conroe, TX, was the fact that it was for a said Price, who has been out and One night in Mobile, AL. good cause. Each year, the of professional baseball since alumni game benefits an orgaMarch, before the game. nization or a family in need. “Some of us aren’t playing All Gamecock baseball Nov.6 - Nov.8 USC vs. Tennessee Knoxville, TN This year’s game benefited the coverage sponsored by anymore so it’s just good to get 3 days, 2 nights - Six meals and setups. Lodging at the Clarion Inn in Knoxville. family of Walker Phillips, a kid back on the field and see some DiPrato’s who is suffering from Voltageold teammates and actually engated Potassium Channel-comjoy the game and have fun.” Transportation via a smoke free bus with Direct TV satellite broadcast on plex Antibody-associated Limbic Encephalitis’ Dyson said that Bill Shanahan, the owner of board. For additional information and pricing, (VGKC-LE), a disease that affects the brain and the Blowfish, has been a great partner in the contact Ralph Whittle at 803-532-6779 or cell 803-319-7996 AS34-1345080

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28 • Spurs & Feathers

July 22, 2015

Staley, Gamecocks excited about new transfers It is fairly common in most sports to add a transfer player to your team every year or two. There’s a variety of reasons a player would want to transfer to another school, but the most common ones include a player feeling like he or she isn’t getting enough playing time or deciding to make a change because their coach leaves or is fired. However, what isn’t common is what head coach Dawn Staley and the South Carolina women’s basketball team has done over the past couple months. The Gamecocks have added three transfers over the past two months and they don’t fit either of the descriptions mentioned above. In fact, all three were all-conference type players from ACC schools. It started at the end of April when Virginia rising senior Sarah Imovbioh in the league in both points and rebounds. That announced she would play her final college performance earned her a spot on the All-ACC season at South Carolina. first team one year after making the All-ACC The Nigeria native was the ACC’s best refreshman team. The six-foot guard was also bounder, leading the league with 10.8 rebounds North Carolina’s top outside threat, shooting 41.8 per game last season. She ranked in the top-15 percent from behind the arc as a freshman and in the ACC in rebounds all three years at Vir30.9 percent last season. She was the fourth-best ginia. In addition, she led the ACC in field-goal guard in the 2013 class coming out of high school. percentage as a sophomore, hitting 59.1 percent As one could imagine, Staley and the Gameof her shots. Before joining the Cavaliers, cocks were ecstatic about adding those three Imovbioh was a Parade Magazine All-Ameri- players. It helps offset the fact that South Carocan in high school. lina currently has no commitments for the 2016 Around a month after Imovbioh signed, class. Staley and the Gamecocks announced that Because Staley is often involved with the they were also getting another top-notch player U.S. team during the summer, she misses out from the ACC; Georgia Tech guard Kaela on a lot of recruiting during that time. Davis. In two seasons with the Yellow Jackets, “Once you’ve made that commitment, you Davis made the All-ACC team both years and think about missing all of the July recruiting, led Georgia Tech with 19.2 points per game last which is a big deal for us,” said Staley, who year. That also allowed her to set a new school- added that she would never turn down an invite record for most points scored in one season. to coach a U.S. team. “We feel a little bit better She set an ACC record for the most points because we have gotten some transfers so we scored by a freshman in 2013-14, dropping 594 can feel good knowing that we will have toppoints. level players competing in the 2016 year.” Before going to Georgia Tech, Davis was the Imovbioh was the first of the transfers to No. 1 ranked guard and second-best player over- arrive on campus. According to her new teamall in the 2013 class coming out of high school mates, Imovbioh is settling in nicely. in Suwanee, Georgia and was a McDonald’s All- “She fits in great,” rising sophomore A’ja American. She’s an assassin from beWilson said. “I’m sad that I can’t be hind the arc, winning the three-point here when the other transfers come shooting contest at the McDonald’s (U.S.A. duties), but she’s fitting in All-American game and made 153 pretty good. Not to toot our own three-pointers as a Yellow Jacket. horn, but I think our team really Finally, around three weeks after helps that out a lot. We’re very comthat, South Carolina grabbed another forting and we’re like sisters here.” ACC teams’ best player. North CaroImovbioh will immediately help lina’s Allisha Gray announced that All Gamecock fill the void left by Aleighsa Welch, she would be joining the Gamecocks, who was a ferocious rebounder herbasketball just a couple months after losing to self. The other two guards will also coverage them in the NCAA tournament. She sponsored by be an important factor in 2016, as was the Tar Heel’s leading scorer last they’ll help replace guards Tiffany Yesterdays year at 15.2 points per game and also Mitchell and Khadijah Sessions. added 8.2 rebounds per game, making her one All in all, it’s a nearly perfect situation for of only two ACC players to rank in the top-10 Staley and in the case of Gray, she really didn’t

photo by allen sharpe

have to do much. “We actually received a call from her father,” Staley said. “You don’t turn down a player of that caliber. We know Allisha Gray and her family extremely well because she was on campus before she committed to North Carolina. I’ve been to her high school a number of times so it was an easy decision to make her a part of our Gamecock family.” You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to

figure out why players from other teams want to play for South Carolina. The Gamecocks have been on the rise for several years and it culminated in South Carolina’s first appearance in the Final Four last year. They’ve implanted themselves as one of the elite teams in the country, joining the likes of UConn, Notre Dame, Stanford and Baylor. In addition, who wouldn’t want to play for one of the best women’s basketball players of all time? “I think people like the way we play the game,” said Staley, a three-time Olympian and two-time National Player of the Year as a player at Virginia. “I think they understand that each and every one of our players get better and we’re able to play as a cohesive unit. The bottom line is I think the players that choose to come to South Carolina do it for the ultimate goal, which is to win a national championship. We’re setting our sights high on achieving something that’s never been done here at the University of South Carolina.” That isn’t expected to change anytime soon as the Gamecocks lost just three players from a team that went 34-3 last season. Throw in the three transfers and the future has never looked brighter. “It says a lot,” Mitchell said. “We’ve put ourselves in this position for people to want to come play here. We’ve progressed each year.”

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by kyle heck Reporter


Spurs & Feathers • 29

July 22, 2015

Take advantage of being unknown The unknown, the darkness of uncertainty can seem overwhelming and unsettling in any task. The unfamiliarity of a new venture can make the anxiety meter ramp up inside of us all. This holds true when it comes to major college football. The unanswered questions always lie in wait for all Langston Moore programs, but Contributing the Gamecocks Writer have a few more unknowns this season. After seasons of having a next in wait QB and a topranked defense to rely on the Gamecocks find themselves with some unknowns. Who knows who your signal caller is or how the new coaching staff changes will work out. Don’t forget all the other unforeseen variables that come with the game, all this makes each sea-

son so thrilling. The agony of not knowing can be gutwrenching to those of us on the outside looking in, but being in this unknown state is a wonderful place to be. This may sound twisted, but blindsiding someone during a game has got to be one of the best feelings. Sure it’s terrible if you’re the guy who gets decleated, but to catch the opponent slipping - ahhhhh man pure joy. Imagine this feeling when you blindside the competition with your play as a team. To go from a mystery to mastering your opponent to WIN feels just as good as if you “blindsided” someone. Being unknown is awesome as a player. When you are in this space you have the freedom to just “be.” All the pressure and build up is put on the cover boys. Playing on a defensive line with guys like Cleveland Pinkney, Cecil Caldwell, and Kalimba Edwards made it easy for me to steal a play every now and again. Even though these All-SEC, All-Americans headlined the stat sheets I was still able to effect the game even in obscurity. Fast forward a few seasons when everyone accounts for you, you can’t go unnoticed. The opposition will go so far as to put a special jersey on a guy during the week to

make sure everyone knows to find “the guy.” Better to be a surprise than a disappointment. Coaches take advantage of being unknown just like players can. One of my favorite offensive playcallers has always been Mike Bobo when he was at Georgia. Not because of his genius playcalling but because he was so “well known.” Let some Bulldog fans tell it he was too “well known” when it came to calling plays. Becoming predictable and creating tendencies is a natural byproduct all coaches have to guard against. Compare this to Kliff Kingsbury a few seasons ago and you would think he re-created the forward pass when teams didn’t know how to defend his offense. Point being, inconspicuousness is a good thing, they won’t know what hit them and when they do it will be too late. Uncertainty isn’t all bad, the 2015 Gamecock team will be one that most of us won’t really know. Sure we’ll know their names and all the particulars, but we won’t know who they’ll be when it’s for real. After “2001” plays and it’s time for the first kickoff who will be the one to step into the light and make plays consistently? For our opponents this can be difficult to defend, especially if

players take advantage of the opportunities. We all had to learn a lesson last year when we felt a little too certain about what we did in the previous seasons. Just because we had “known” talent, coaches etc... But from that we were able to have some players step to the forefront. We strengthened our bond between teammates and coaches and finished winning 3 out of the last 4 games on the way to another bowl victory. It will seem odd at first this season not knowing who will emerge as the stalwart on the team and how the wins will come. Going on this uncertain journey with the team is why we watch the game, it’s why we count down the days until kickoff as soon as the season concludes. In the end we won’t be surprised but our foes maybe blindsided, but you can’t say you weren’t warned. “We have a new team this year, don’t be surprised” - Pharoh Cooper Follow Langston Moore on Twitter at: @reMovetheChains #justachicken #eat2win #yoby

Celebrity event continues to raise awareness for cancer by kyle heck Reporter

Gamecock helmet were auctioned off in a live auction as well. The items available in the silent auction ranged from memorabilia Trying to help raise money for the Chilfrom The Masters golf tournament to jerseys dren’s Chance foundation came as a no-brain- signed by former Clemson quarterback Tajh er to former South Carolina star quarterback Boyd and Alabama quarterback Blake Sims. Connor Shaw. He became familiar with the There were even signed photographs from organization that helps families affected by current Atlanta Braves pitchers Julio Teheran pediatric cancer while still in school and that and Alex Wood. didn’t change when he graduated. The proceeds from the auctions and golf For the second year in a row, Shaw was tournament will go to benefit Children’s the main partner for the Children’s Chance Chance and their mission to help children Celebrity Golf Tournament. The tournament and their families that are having to deal with got started with a kickoff event on Sunday, pediatric cancer. June 28 at 701 Whaley St. Shaw, along with “The cause is very dear to my heart,” Shaw several other celebrities from the University said. “I’ve been affiliated with some families and around the state, talked and mingled with that have battled pediatric cancer and it’s refans at the event. There was also live music ally tough to see. It’s something that if there is that featured Mark Bryan, lead guitarist for anything we can do to help, we’ll do it. It’s an Hootie and the Blowfish, and other musicians awesome cause.” throughout the night. One of the reasons that the Children’s Some of the other celebrities that participat- Chance cause is dear to Shaw’s heart is beed in the kickoff event and golf tournament cause of his experience with the Shieder famincluded the cast from “Southern Charm,” ily and their son, Mack. Mack was diagnosed Jared Emerson, an internationally-acclaimed with leukemia and at one point he had less artist who painted a great replica of the than a 10 percent chance of living. However, “Block C” Gamecock logo in about 15 min“Mighty Mack,” as Shaw calls him, was able utes, award-winning actor Justin Wheelon to fight through the cancer. and former NFL players Tyler Thigpen, RenShaw has a new perspective on things now, nie Curran, Corey Miller and Sheldon Brown. as he just recently became a father himself. In addition, there was a plethora of unique “It’s a brand new perspective,” Shaw said. items available in a silent auction and a “It’s like a lightbulb went off in my head as signed Shaw Cleveland Browns jersey and soon as she was born. You just have a father

photo by kyle heck

mindset.” Executive director of Children’s Chance Stephanie Amaker says she has been pleased with how much the event has grown in its second year. “A lot of the same celebrities from last year came back and we have added even more this year,” Amaker said. “It’s great to see the growth and how more people are learning about Children’s Chance. It makes it really wonderful.” After a fun-filled night, Shaw and the other participants hit the golf course at Columbia Country Club for the celebrity golf tournament. It was a great day for golf and more importantly, it was another great way to help raise awareness and money for the important cause.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Shaw said. “You have a lot of guys that this is the first time they’ve played golf so it’s a little bit of a comedy show. It’s just really cool to have these guys come from around the state.” Amaker hopes that the event continues to grow and that more and more people become aware of not only just Children’s Chance, but the struggles that families dealing with pediatric cancer have to go through. “So many people still don’t know about pediatric cancer and the strain that it puts on their families,” Amaker said. “This event is just a great way to raise awareness and get celebrities from all around involved.” For more information about Children’s Chance, visit their website at http://www.childrenschancesc.org/.


30 • Spurs & Feathers

July 22, 2015

Moore, Thorne highlight Darlington pool party by brian hand Executive Editor

It’s pretty obvious to anyone that has ever been around a South Carolina fan that Gamecock fans are special. In fact, former South Carolina football standout Preston Thorne noted it was one of the reasons he decided to become a Gamecock. Thorne recalled a story when as a recruit he was at the South Carolina-Clemson game in 1999. The loss to Clemson that day dropped the Gamecocks to 0-11 on the year, but still he knew he wanted to be a Gamecock to change the culture of the program to reward the fans for their passion to the program. “One thing that always stood out to me as a recruit was being able to see the fans still cheering after 11 losses and they’d just lost a rivalry game, but there was still over 80,000 people in the stands and that really stood out to me,” Thorne said. “That support has never wavered.” The fortunes for Gamecock football thanks to Thorne and his former teammate and friend Langston Moore and many others have thankfully changed forever since that

photo by brian hand

winless 1999 season. Thorne relayed this story before asking the fans to give themselves a big round applause for all they do for South Carolina athletics at the Darlington County Gamecock Club summer pool party at the home of Eldon and Debra Henderson on Thursday, June 25, 2015. Thorne and Moore were there to answer questions from Gamecock fans and sign copies of their new book, “#JustaChicken.”

The special evening began with a steak dinner cooked interestingly enough by a Clemson fan in C.W. Grant. After the dinner, Gamecock Club Executive Director Patrick McFarland, Spurs & Feathers Executive Editor Brian Hand and Moore and Thorne talked with all of those in attendance. Moore spent over 20 minutes answering any and all of the questions the Darlington County Gamecock fans had about the up-

coming 2015 football season. Moore summed up his time talking with the group by noting just how hard the Gamecock football student-athletes have been working this offseason. “These guys understand and are doing all the little things to win,” the former NFL standout said. All-in-all, it was a great evening for all in attendance. “It was great,” Darlington County Gamecock Club chapter president Jimmy Griffin said. “Langston and his buddies did a great job keeping us up with what’s going on. We’ve always had good cooperation from the people in Columbia and we just appreciate their support. I know Hartsville is a small area, but they treat us just like we’re one of the big boys.” McFarland could not have been happier with the evening. “It’s a great location with great food and it was a great crowd that came out and they got to hear from two of our former studentathletes in Preston Thorne and Langston Moore, so it was a good time.,” McFarland said. “The Darlington County Gamecock Club is so welcoming. They make you feel very comfortable and they’re appreciative.”

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Spurs & Feathers • 31

July 22, 2015

South Carolina blessed with great facilities I was thinking the other day of how much at the rafters that I am all too familiar with, I got time I have spent in the campus to think about how many confacilities at South Carolina, parcerts I had attended at campus ticularly the sports arenas. My facilities. earliest memories are around The first concert I saw in the 1970 in the Carolina Coliseum Coliseum was Boz Scaggs and watching John Roche, Bobby his Silk Degrees Tour, which Cremins, Tom Owens and all the was followed shortly by Billy rest playing basketball with my Joel. I was still in high school at father taking me along. the time and I was hooked. I visited Williams-Brice about While in college I was able the same time, though my earliest to see great concerts like Bob memory is the 1971 USC-ClemSeger, Bruce Springsteen, JourEd Girardeau son game. Later I would become ney (back when Steve Perry was Contributing a Rooster Booster member and still there), the Commodores, Editor sit in the south end zone with my Foghat, Elton John, Foreigner, brother and cousins. John Cougar (he later added It wasn’t until later that I would visit Sarge Mellencamp), Earth, Wind and Fire, Bad ComFrye Field, but I made up for the lack of time pany, Prince, Styx and many more. spent there while in college covering GameThe one that I missed was The Eagles. I can cock baseball for WUSC radio, The Gamecock remember the night of their concert being in a newspaper, the old WIS radio, and WLTX tele- girlfriend’s dorm room and her roommate comvision. I didn’t miss many games. ing in and telling us how great they were. I have I spent an inordinate amount of time at the always regretted missing that one. What could I Carolina Coliseum, as that is where the College have possibly been thinking? of Journalism was housed. My first radio air One of the better shows was Barry Manilow shifts were there and training for television. Dr. (I know that may be hard to believe). He played Dudek and Dr. Uray will never be forgotten. in the round and had an intermission. When My memories of these facilities were really he came back, the drums started blaring as stirred on June 25 as Paul McCartney visited four big guys, Manilow riding on a throne with the Colonial Life Arena. As I sat there looking robes, and wearing a crown, carried him out.

He threw up his hands and everything stopped. He stood up and threw off his robe and was wearing George Rogers’ 38 jersey (he had just won the Heisman). The place went crazy! The band kicked back and he played ... Copa Cabana. Okay, so it wasn’t Live and Let Die, but the intro was cool. And there were great bands that played in the Russell House and around campus. The first time I saw Chairmen of the Board was at the Russell House. If I remember correctly The Police played there and unfortunately I missed that one. Later the stadium would host concerts. I was able to see McCartney the first time he came to Columbia in Williams-Brice in 1993. I was completely blown away from seeing a “real” Beatle. Later The Rolling Stones came to town. I missed Kenny Chesney and U2, which I regret the latter very much. I was able to see James Taylor, who will be at Colonial Life this summer, at the Koger Center, which was great and a very intimate setting for seeing a great performer. I’m sure the concert at the CLA will be great as well. And now I’ve seen Sir Paul again. The tickets had the Block C logo on them, which I thought was a great association for us. It was a threehour sing along and I appreciate the fact that the administration was able to bring someone as

by brian hand Executive Editor

ball play in person than any other women’s college basketball program in the country with 295,991 individuals attending a Gamecock women’s basketball contest. The women’s basketball program is not the only basketball program at the University of South Carolina receiving impressive attendance numbers as the Gamecock men’s basketball program moved up from sixth to fourth in the SEC in average attendance in the 2014-15 season with an average of 11,520 attending men’s basketball games at the Colonial Life Arena. South Carolina moved up from 41st to 33rd nationally in the category. The Gamecocks were one of only 41 schools in the nation to average more than 10,000 fans per game. South Carolina overall improved its attendance from the previous season by 1,446 fans, which was 12th best in the nation. The increase means that South Carolina is one of only three schools in men’s college basketball in the top-15 in increased attendance in each of the last two years, joining Virginia and Utah. All of this is why South Carolina men’s basketball head coach Frank Martin is so excited about the future of his program and

great as McCartney back to Columbia. The first I heard of it was a story that Brian Hand posted which I thought was some kind of joke at first with the picture of Coach Tanner standing next to a cardboard cut out of McCartney. No joke and he was great! All of this just reminded me about how lucky we are to have such great facilities. They are awesome for our sporting events. WilliamsBrice is nationally known for being one of the toughest places to play and I can’t wait to see the CLA packed for both men’s and women’s basketball. Not to mention how great Carolina Stadium is to watch baseball games, much less all of the other great facilities. But a big part of my campus life and I’m sure the students before and after me is the great acts that are attracted to Columbia for all kinds of things not just concerts. The fans keep them here, but without the facilities I doubt they would come. It won’t be long until we are packed into Williams-Brice again for the September 12 Kentucky game, but in the middle of another long, hot summer in Columbia, it is great that we get to visit the campus and enjoy, if not “Eight Days a Week,” “Maybe I’m Amazed” at how often we have other great events while we wait for the kickoff. See you in about a month in Charlotte!

Gamecock men’s and women’s basketball have nation’s attention 12,293 fans inside Colonial Life Arena for every women’s basketball game snapped Tennessee’s 11 straight seasons with the South Carolina women’s basketball head nation’s best attendance. coach Dawn Staley has mentioned many South Carolina ending the year with the times that she always dreamed of winning No. 1 attendance in the country marked the championships at the University of South second consecutive year the Gamecocks Carolina, but she did not really think about had produced the highest attendance inwhat it would look like in the arena when crease in the country. But South Carolina’s those championships were won. ascension to No. 1 overall in attendance Well, when South Carolina’s secondwas a stout one from the 2013-14 season as straight SEC regular-season championship the Gamecocks went from a 6,371 average title was picked up in a 69-50 win over to a nation’s best average of 12,293 in just nationally-ranked Mississippi State before one year. a crowd of 15,047 at the Colonial Life “It’s quite amazing what has taken place Arena on Feb. 26, 2015, Staley on our campus and at Colonial was given a gift she had never Life Arena,” Staley said to thought about: the unquestioned Spurs & Feathers after the win best home court advantage in over Mississippi State. “It’s women’s college basketball in incredible what the fans make the 2014-15 season. up their minds to support, espeThat became official on Moncially here. Gamecock Nation is day, July 6, as the NCAA reremarkable. I don’t know if this leased its attendance figures for will ever be repeated - I hope the past season for men’s and it’s repeated in this fashion next All Gamecock women’s college basketball. year - but it’s truly been incredbasketball South Carolina women’s basible to see it unfold.” coverage ketball knocked fellow SEC rival In total, more people saw sponsored by Tennessee off its perch as the South Carolina women’s basketYesterdays

photo by jenny dilworth

Gamecock basketball - men’s and women’s. Martin knows that South Carolina fans will be there every step of the way and that’s why he could not be more excited to be the head men’s basketball coach at the University of South Carolina. “I think our fans respect how hard our players are playing,” Martin said after South Carolina’s demolition of rival Clemson last season. “I think they respect the brand of basketball we’re playing and now we’re starting to get a home court advantage. You’re starting to see fans in the stands, you’re starting to see fans engaged in the game and you’re starting to see a team that’s starting to believe.”


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