August 20, 2014 • Volume 36 • Issue 9 • $1.50
Mike Davis Brandon Wilds
Running for the SEC East SEC Network launches LIVE from Columbia
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South Carolina boasts deep backfield by mike kucharski firstname.lastname@example.org
Most college football teams are looking for one or two running backs to carry the ball, but the Gamecocks boast a stable of four backs who can boost the offense. Headlining the group is Mike Davis who rushed for 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2013 and looks to have gotten bigger in the offseason. He is a rare back that can boast power and speed and is talented enough that head coach Steve Spurrier said before the season that if Davis has a good year then he should move on to the NFL. “Of course I think to myself that in order for me to leave I have to have a great year, so of course I’m focusing more on this year ahead. Also at times I’m thinking that if I make it to the NFL and have that chance to go, then I will leave because it’s all about helping my family out,” Davis said at South Carolina’s media day. Davis missed the first few days of fall camp with a lingering hamstring injury, but he returned in time for the Gamecocks to practice in full pads. Running backs coach Everette Sands said that was a precautionary measure and Davis has been running around fine thus far. Sands also has Brandon Wilds, Shon Carson and David Williams to tote the football this year, players who possibly could start on other teams but will provide depth for the Gamecocks. Redshirt freshman David Williams, a highly-touted recruit from Philadelphia, is listed at 6’1” and 214 pounds and also is reportedly the second-fastest player on the team. After redshirting last season Williams said that he has improved his knowledge of the playbook and is more physically prepared for this season. “Coach Sands told me that he would be disappointed if I didn’t contribute this year, so I’m just going out there trying to do the best I can do. I’d be disappointed in myself if I don’t play because I feel like the coach is going to play the best player. If I’m not playing up to the level they think I should play, then I’m going to be disappointed in myself because I feel like that’s all on me. I’m trying to make it to where it’s hard not to play me,” Williams said. Williams suffered a mild knee sprain in practice on Aug. 5, but he was back out doing light work the next day. Sands noted that the injury should not linger too long and hopefully will not affect him for the opener with Texas A&M. “We just wanted to get him out here and try to run around a little bit just to see how he is. It was the knee, but it wasn’t bad.
photo by jenny dilworth
The Gamecocks boast an impressive stable of running backs that includes (left-to-right): Wilds, Carson, Davis and Williams. We’re excited about that and looking to get him out here running around the next couple of days,” Sands said. Sands spoke highly of Wilds and Carson as well, knowing that they are both ready to contribute this year. “The beautiful thing is that besides David Williams, I’ve got a group of guys that have been around for awhile, both Brandon and Shon are redshirt juniors, so they’re in their fourth year in the program … both of them are explosive guys, both of them have really good speed,” Sands said. “Of course Brandon is a bigger guy and that’s why sometimes I think that he’s going to run through some of those tackles and that’s why I’m anxious to get to the scrimmage to see if he’s going to be able to do that or not. “The good thing about Shon is that he’s put on about 10 pounds and he looks more explosive. Again I want to see if he’s going to run through arm tackles because at times last year he didn’t run through some of them and this year with those extra 10 pounds I anticipate him doing that,” Sands continued.
Carson has made the switch to football completely after playing on the baseball team in years past which he feels has helped him. Carson came along well with a 100-yard game against Florida last season and had a strong spring as well. “I think it’s helped a lot that I’m with the football team every day. I’m getting used to the speed of the game more now and it helped out a lot,” Carson said. “I think me and David Williams bring speed to the table while Brandon Wilds and Mike Davis are the power backs, so we can change the game up no matter who is in the game.” Wilds has battled injuries in much of his time at South Carolina, but he has three 100-yard rushing games and five career starts coming into the year. Sands said Wilds was having a good season blocking and running in 2013 before the injury and looked good when he returned late in the year as well. As far as goals, Wilds said that he would like to push for the top position. “Coming out and fighting for a position just makes everybody better. It’s everybody’s goal to get out there on the field and
make plays. We push each other so we can be the best we can be,” Wilds commented. Carson echoed that, saying “we just set the goal to be the best backs in the nation and make each other better every day in practice. I just have to take advantage of the opportunity when they give me the opportunity to play and put the ball in my hands.” Davis also agreed that his main goal is not his stat line but how the team performs. “The only thing that I’m concerned about is winning and my teammates doing a good job … I’m just going out there and hopefully I can be a good teammate and as long as we keep winning, I really don’t care too much about my stats,” Davis said. Sands said he and the players know they will all be competing for playing time and carries, but for now they are just focused on improving each day. “Right now it’s all about competition. They understand that there is only one football, but right now we’re just out here competing and trying to get better every day. We’ll worry about that as we get closer to August 28th,” Sands concluded.
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Spurs & Feathers Published by Aiken Communications, Inc.
What’s Inside? - Table of Contents Fan Appreciation Day .............................................. 4-5 Steve Wadiak: The Cadillac ..................................... 6-7 Ray Tanner, Frank Martin appearances ...................8 Recruiting Roundup ...................................................10
Contact Us: 301 Greystone Blvd. Columbia, SC 29210 (803) 335-1399 To subscribe: Please call 800-559-2311; annual subscription price is $50 Ellen Priest Publisher Aiken Communications, Inc. Tim O’Briant General Manager email@example.com (803) 335-1400 Ext. 500 Brian Hand Executive Editor firstname.lastname@example.org (803) 335-1399 Ext. 506 Mike Kucharski Reporter email@example.com (803) 335-1399 Ext. 507 Ed Girardeau Contributing Editor/Sales Account Executive firstname.lastname@example.org (803) 646-9807 Dee Taylor Advertising Director (803) 644-2371
Cocky mini-statues looking for homes ................12 Gamecocks ranked 9th in preseason AP poll ....13 Lexington County’s fall kickoff ...............................14 Gold Medal Gamecocks ............................................16 What a difference a year makes .............................19 Nick Jones looking to break out ............................20 Todd & Moore celebrates 70 years in style .........21 My Carolina Fall Sports Preview .............................22 Catching up with Nolan Belcher ............................23 Previewing the 2014 season for men’s and women’s soccer programs ..................24 Volleyball & cross country 2014 previews.... 25-26 Inside the Chart ............................................................27 Glenn Snyder returns..................................................28
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The youngest Junior Gamecock Club member lives in North Carolina................................................29
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Upcoming events: Gamecock Club ......................30
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Unique views from Ed Girardeau ...........................31
Something to crow about! Letterman’s Association adds seven members to Hall of Fame The University of South Carolina Association of Lettermen has elected seven new members to the Athletic Hall of Fame for 2014. Landon Powell, Baseball (2001-2004) - Earned All America honors as a catcher in 2004, and was twice voted All SEC... Hit 44 home runs (5th all-time), 61 doubles (2nd all-time), and drove in 193 runs (4th all-time)... Landon had 265 base hits to also rank 4th all-time, and scored 176 runs in his Gamecock career... Defensively he holds the school single game, season, and career record for putouts... He also logged a record 65 assists in 2004 and collected 190 in his career. Mike Dunleavy, Basketball (1972-76) - As a guard playing for legendary coach Frank McGuire, Dunleavy scored 1,586 points in his career, which ranks sixth all time... Was a deadly long-range shooter before the three-point shot was instituted, and hit 80 percent of his career free throws... Mike enjoyed a successful career in the NBA as both a player and coach. Jennie Ondo Lloyd, Soccer (1995-99) - Remains the top scorer in Carolina women’s soccer history with 115 points... She earned first team All-SEC honors in 1999, and scored 16 gamewinning goals in her career... Jennie’s 50 career goals ranks first in Carolina history and seventh all-time in the SEC record book, while her 115 points rank No. 8 on the SEC charts. Seth Rose, Tennis (1999-2003) - Earned All America honors in 2003 in singles... In his career, Rose participated in the NCAA singles championship twice, and he earned All SEC honors in 2002 and 2003... In 2000 he was named Region II Rookie of the Year and was a finalist for national Freshman of the Year honors... Seth helped lead the Gamecocks to four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, and never lost against Clemson. Zola Davis, Football (1995-98) - A wide receiver, Davis caught 164 passes in his Carolina career for 2,354 yards... He scored 17 touchdowns, and in one game vs. Vanderbilt had 206 yards in receptions on 14 catches, which ties for the school record... Zola is fourth in the Gamecock record book for career receptions and yards gained... Eight times he had over 100 yards receiving in a game. Charles Arndt, Soccer (1985-88) - Earned first-team AllAmerica honors in 1988 while also being named the National Goalkeeper of the Year... He compiled 13 shutouts in 1988 in helping lead the Gamecocks to their first-ever semifinal appearance in the NCAA tournament... Arndt holds the school record for lowest career goals-against average (0.70) and combined shutouts (29). Darlene Lowery, Softball (1983-87) - As a pitcher Darlene was named first-team All-America in 1983 and second team in 1985... She tossed nine career no-hitters and a perfect game against East Carolina in 1987... She still holds the record for the lowest earned run average in Gamecock history at 0.38. Darlene Lowery is deceased. These former Gamecock greats will be honored at a reception in The Zone on Thursday, September 4, and also during halftime of the East Carolina game on September 6. Since the University of South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame was created in 1967, 153 members have been selected by the University of South Carolina Association of Lettermen. (Courtesy of South Carolina Athletics Media Relations)
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Fan Appreciation Day fun experience for student-athletes, fans by brian hand firstname.lastname@example.org Four-year-old Xaelon Swanson of Columbia attended his first Colonial Life Fan Appreciation Day on Sunday, Aug. 10. Wearing a Gamecock hat, a Gamecock t-shirt and even Gamecock sunglasses, Swanson’s passion for South Carolina athletics even at such a young age was very evident. “I’m so excited,” Swanson said when he was asked about attending his first Fan Appreciation Day. “I love the Gamecocks so much.” Joined by his father, Landrus Hunter, Swanson, affectionately known as “Z,” was particularly thrilled to have the chance to see Cocky. “I love Cocky so much,” Swanson remarked. “I just took a picture with him.” Swanson’s enthusiasm for being a part of the annual event was shared by many others as thousands made their way inside the Colonial Life Arena in hopes of receiving an autograph from the Gamecocks. The free event featured student-athletes from all of South Carolina’s fall sports, including football, volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer. The student-athletes signed posters and interacted with the fans over the course of the event that ran just at an hour and a half. The fans were not the only ones that were
excited to be there though as South Carolina junior running back Mike Davis pointed out. “It’s exciting,” Davis noted of signing autographs and interacting with the fans. “It’s our way of giving back to the fans. They come out and support us, so why not come out and support them?” Fellow junior running back Brandon Wilds agreed with Davis’ thoughts. “It’s good giving back to the community,” Wilds elaborated. “I’m from Columbia so it’s nice giving back.” Junior offensive tackle Brandon Shell said the whole experience meant a great deal to him. “I like interacting with the fans,” Shell expounded. “It’s just a fun experience for us and for them. Just to see how happy they are it makes us happy. It means a lot that there are a lot of people out here supporting us and supporting what we do.” Senior offensive guard A.J. Cann was also happy that he and his teammates could give a little back to the fans that do so much for them. “It’s amazing,” Cann said. “It means so much just to be able to see us put a smile on all those fans’ faces. They come support us and it just feels good to come back and support them.” All photos by Allen Sharpe and Jenny Dilworth
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Steve Wadiak: The Cadillac by brian hand email@example.com
was victorious over its archrival Clemson. Fans quickly surmised that the best way for Enright to earn a new car was for the GameFrom 1948-1951, Steve Wadiak was the cock signal callers to give the ball to the elu“big man on USC’s campus” and one of the sive and powerful Wadiak. nation’s top college running backs. However, Upon hearing the cheer, Jake Penland, many modern-day fans have limited knowlSports Columnist for The State, officially edge of this legendary Gamecock star. But pegged Wadiak as “The Cadillac.” It would thanks to a new book by Mike Chibbaro, be a name that would become synonymous “The Cadillac,” Gamecock fans can learn with one of the most popular and legendary the details of the unique and intriguing life sports figures in Gamecock history. of the first Gamecock football player to have Wadiak was a bruising, hard-nosed foothis jersey retired. ball player who also possessed a sprinter’s Chibbaro spent the better part of two years speed—speed which allowed him to amass researching Wadiak’s life and has published 2,878 rushing yards during his four years an in-depth 269-page biography of the at Carolina. He remains as the 4th all-time Gamecock great, a book full of stories and leading Gamecock rusher and still holds the anecdotes from Gamecock football history. USC record for the longest run from scrimThe inspiration for the book project can be mage (96-yards.) His career rushing total traced to the author’s childhood. eclipsed the Southern Conference career “I grew up hearing my father tell me stories rushing record held by North Carolina’s Allabout his friend, the ‘great Steve Wadiak,’” American Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice. Chibbaro said in reference to his father—a Wadiak saved his best performances for 1949 graduate of USC and a personal friend in-state rival Clemson. On October 19, 1950, of Wadiak. “Even to this day, when my Dad he thrilled a capacity Big Thursday crowd by talks about Wadiak, it is always with a reverrushing for a record-breaking 256 yards on ent and respectful tone. He talks not only a muddy field to help the Gamecocks fight about his exploits on the football field, but to a 14-14 tie against a heavily favored and also about what a genuine nice guy he was. ” nationally-ranked Clemson team. His efforts Wadiak was born in 1926 on the South that day have long been considered by many Side of Chicago. His parents were Ukrainian as the single greatest individual performance immigrants who left their home country by a South Carolina football player. around the turn of the century in pursuit of Chibbaro interviewed several surviving the “American dream.” The book uncovers teammates and friends, all of whom were photo courtesy of USC Archives many never-before-told details of Wadiak’s quick to share their favorite “Steve Wadiak From 1948-1951, Steve Wadiak was one of the nation’s top college running backs. early years, thanks to information obtained story.” Included among the stories is a littlefrom Steve’s lone surviving sibling, his older known incident during Wadiak’s senior year sister Jeanette Wadiak Korlin. formed school that did not participate in the Gamecocks’ back-up quarterback, Pat Vella, when he grew weary of a referee penalizing “Once I met Steve’s sister, I knew I had to official Chicago High School league and picked Steve up at the train station and took the Gamecocks every time he ran the footwrite this book,” Chibbaro explained. “She there were few records or accounts of Wahim to the practice field for an impromptu ball. Finally, after the official flagged the is an amazing human being with an increddiak’s high school playing days. The book 45-minute workout in front of head coach Gamecocks for yet another penalty, Wadiak ible memory for details. She told me that includes a rare photo of Wadiak’s 1942 high Rex Enright and assistant coach Hank Barpicked up the flag, brought it back to the her family grew up on University Avenue school team, a team consisting of only 11 tos. huddle and instructed a teammate to hide it in the Burnside district of Chicago’s South players who often struggled to find enough After the tryout, Enright offered Wadiak in his football pants. Wadiak’s “partner-inSide and that there were 91 children living uniforms and equipment to fully dress out a scholarship to play football for the Gamecrime” kept the flag as a life-long reminder on their street. Then she began reciting the for practices and games. cocks. Midway through his freshman year in of the dubious incident. names of each of the children one-by-one. During the middle of his senior season 1948, Wadiak broke into the starting lineup “It was amazing to me that nearly every She had a very close relationship with her in high school, Wadiak turned 18 and imand went on to start every game for USC person I talked with had a consistent mesbrother Steve and thanks to her I was able to mediately enlisted for service in the U.S. over the next three and a half years on his sage about what an incredible athlete and uncover many unknown details of Steve’s Navy. He spent two years training to be an way to a record-breaking career. genuine nice person that Wadiak was,” Chiblife prior to his life at Carolina.” aerial gunner. At the end of World War II, During Wadiak’s sophomore season, baro said. “What I heard time-after-time was Included in the book’s depiction of Steve’s he returned to Chicago and began playing Gamecock fans developed a new cheer that that no matter how much notoriety and fame early life is the story of how he became sandlot football for a neighborhood team, the resounded frequently inside Carolina stawas given to Steve, he never lost his humble, known throughout his neighborhood as Roseland Mustangs. During a game with the dium: unassuming nature. These were traits which “Pinchy” and how he had to hide his football Mustangs he was discovered by a scout, Bill Rickety rack, rickety rack, clearly endeared him to his friends and equipment from his mother—who feared her Milner, who at the time was a member of the Give the ball to Wadiak! teammates.” son would suffer an injury playing a game Chicago Bears and a former USC football Rickety rack, rickety rack, Wadiak was drafted as the 30th overall she didn’t understand. player. Milner immediately called his former Enright needs a Cadillac. pick in the 1952 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh It has often been reported that Wadiak nev- coach Rex Enright and recommended that The reference to Rex Enright related to Steelers. However, his life ended tragically er played high school football, but in fact he Wadiak be given a tryout at USC. a tradition among Gamecock boosters to when he was killed in a single car accident did play at Chicago Vocational High School Wadiak boarded a train in February of purchase a new luxury automobile for coach just outside of Aiken on March 9, 1952. (CVS) from 1940-42. CVS was a newly 1948 and headed south to Columbia. The Enright in the event that South Carolina His coach Rex Enright called Wadiak, “the
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greatest football player he ever coached.” Enright, the father of three daughters, had an incredibly close relationship with his star player. One of Enright’s daughters shared in the book that Wadiak was like the son her father never had. “Nearly everyone I interviewed for the book was able to tell me exactly where they were when they heard about Steve’s untimely death,” Chibbaro noted. “Even though sixty years had passed since the accident, the memory of the tragic loss of their friend was still very fresh.” Two of Wadiak’s teammates, as testimony to their respect and admiration for their friend, named their first-born sons after Wadiak. About the Author: Chibbaro is a 1981
graduate of USC and served as Sports Editor of The Gamecock student newspaper during George Rogers’ Heisman-winning senior season. After retiring from a 31-year career in business, Chibbaro said that writing the book about Wadiak was a “bucket list” item for him and that his underlying motivation was to honor the life and accomplishments of a Gamecock legend. “Every year thousands of fans see Wadiak’s #37 commemorated on the banner on top of the pedestrian ramp in the northwest corner of Williams-Brice Stadium,” Chibbaro noted. “I hope in some way that this book will help the Gamecock nation to better appreciate the accomplishments and the life of one our first and greatest Gamecock legends.”
Where to get the book: submitted photo
Pictured is “The Cadillac” author, Mike Chibbaro with Steve’s sister, Jeanette Wadiak Korlin.
A signed copy of the book can be purchased for $15.00 at www.thirtysevenpublishing.com. It is also available on Amazon.com and can be purchased in Columbia at the South Carolina Shop on 1314 Rosewood Drive or at The Gamecock Shop at Saffron’s Antiques on 1015 Whaley Street.
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Tanner appearance highlights Greenville Gamecock Club event by brian hand firstname.lastname@example.org
to coach your team and there is a lot of emotions involved and you don’t get to enjoy it quite as much as I do now. I really enjoy being with our fans and our boosters and being out at events. I had a chance to be on the other side and now being on this side is so special. Our fanbase and our donors and boosters have done so much to help us get in a position to compete at the highest level and it’s great to be able to say thank you on as many occasions as possible.” The Greenville County Gamecock Club Kickoff event commenced at 5:30 p.m. and in addition to hearing from Tanner the event allowed the Gamecocks in attendance the chance to enjoy a nice meal before taking in the South Atlantic League contest between the host Greenville Drive and the Rome Braves at 7 p.m. As the Gamecock fans entered Fluor Field they were able to pick up the 2014 schedule posters along with schedule cards and copies of
the latest Spurs & Feathers’ magazine. There were also other special giveaways and the chance to meet Mike Chibbaro, the author of “The Cadillac – the life story of University of South Carolina football legend Steve Wadiak.” Shortly before the start of the baseball game Tanner addressed those in attendance while also recognizing former Gamecock baseball great David Marchbanks who was in attendance with his son. Greenville County Gamecock Club chapter President Dan Drew was pleased with how everything on the evening turned out. “It’s always a great turnout,” Drew commented. “Gamecock sports up here are big … Spurrier said the last time (he was here) atop the dugout that the ‘word up here is that the Gamecocks own this (area)’ and I think that’s true.” Drew closed by noting just how much things have changed for those with a vested interest in the Gamecocks.
“The Tennessee coach was all high because they beat South Carolina last year,” Drew pointed out. “That tells you where we are. I’ve gone up there and heard that ‘Rocky Top’ so many different times, sat in the rain, the ice up there and said to myself ‘when are we going to turn this thing around?’ Now the cool part about it is when somebody beats us it’s a big deal. It’s a big thing. If they beat us they’ve got something to put up on their board.”
the Gamecocks play live, so when people like coach Martin bring a team up here, we really get excited that we get a chance to be even closOn a recent trip to New York City, Gamecock er to everything in South Carolina. That’s going men’s basketball head coach Frank Martin to be big for us, we appreciate the recognition stopped in to visit the NYC Gamecocks at the for NYC and we’re really looking forward to it.” Mason Jar, their home in the city. Buzzelli said that getting one-on-one time “We had a great crowd come out on Wednes- with Martin was a tremendous experience for day (July 30) night for coach Martin at the all that attended the event Wednesday. event. He’s a great person to talk to,” chapter “Everyone that I talked to after the event said president JR Buzzelli said. “Coach came in the same thing. Coach is genuine, a really nice about 7:30 with his wife Anya and they were guy he is and clearly very family-oriented. He’s just wonderful. We had a chance to talk about focused on getting the kids perform well on the New York City and the recruiting importance it court, the classroom and to perform well in life has for coach, we also talked about Anya’s fam- … that’s what makes him and ideal coach and ily being from Queens, so we consider her an teacher since he engages in much more than honorary NYC Gamecock Club member. just the basketball court,” Buzzelli described. “He likes to recruit up here and he wants to The event was great on many levels for the have the team play up here more. He really was NYC Gamecocks as they are looking forward impressed with what we’re doing as a Gameto another year of Gamecock athletics. Buzcock Club chapter and said ‘I’ve got to get in zelli also confirmed that the NYC Gamecocks there and see what I can do to help them and would continue to host watch parties for all the create an even stronger presence for the Univer- football games at the Mason Jar this fall. sity of South Carolina in New York,’” Buzzelli “It was a really, really good event for us on all continued. levels. As an example, we were able to discuss Buzzelli added that the Martins were great raising money for our chapter-designated team, in interacting with the crowd. Coach signed the Gamecock sand volleyball team,” Buzzelli autographs and posed for many pictures. He commented. “We’ve started a capital campaign also said there is a lot of anticipation among the to support them and this event allowed our ofNYC Gamecocks for when Martin brings his ficers to talk about the campaign to those who team up to play Iowa State, scheduled for Jan. 3, attended in a ‘soft’ way before we begin full 2015 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. fundraising promotions. We left the event with “Coach is excited to come back up here and a lot of anticipation for all Gamecock Athletics we’re going to plan a cool event around that and the upcoming year. The excitement level is game” Buzzelli explained. “We’re thrilled peaking with football. to have the team here and be able to support “We’re looking forward to a great football them. For us it’s great. We don’t live in South season for our chapter and it’s a tremendous Carolina, so a lot of us don’t get a chance to see opportunity to come together as Gamecocks
since we don’t live next to each other. It’s a catalyst for getting everybody together … and when that happens, it’s a great fundraising opportunity. We try to do things for all the fans at the Mason Jar and have merchandise available for fans to buy to help people show their New York City Gamecock pride and it’s a lot of fun. If you’re not at Williams-Brice, then you should come to the Mason Jar for the game,” Buzzelli expounded. Buzzelli also made sure to thank the board for their hard work to help with all of the events, particularly vice president Matt Garrick, secretary Caitlin Stevens and treasurer Lou Antonelli. He added that credit also goes to all the volunteers: Kenny Rick, Amanda Neel, Lauren Koch, George McDonald, Eliza Akers, Kyle Bussey, Andrew Zank, Jade Ho and others who help make everything happen saying, “we are what we are because of them.” If you are in the area, Buzzelli encourages any and all Gamecock fans to stop by the Ma-
son Jar and take in the atmosphere with Gamecock specials on the menu and from the bar. He noted that the Mason Jar is hoping to get a South Carolina craft beer on tap for the season saying, “they are open to any craft breweries in South Carolina to offer a taste from the Palmetto State as there will definitely be a high demand.” NYC Gamecocks is open to all in the Greater New York City area who love the University of South Carolina. The group includes the Greater New York chapters of both the My Carolina Alumni Association and the Gamecock Club. The group focuses on creating networking, entertainment and University fundraising events in the area. NYC Gamecocks is one of the largest and most successful Gamecock groups outside of South Carolina. To find out more about the NYC Gamecocks you can like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter at @NYCGamecockClub or visit the website at www.nycgamecocks.com.
The Greenville County Gamecock Club held its kickoff party/picnic on Tuesday, Aug. 12 and the theme of the evening in an area that is sometimes mistakenly seen as Clemson territory is just how special it is to be a Gamecock. South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner who was the featured speaker at the event that took place at Fluor Field in the West End of downtown Greenville probably put it best shortly after his arrival. “It’s great to be a Gamecock and it has been for a long time,” Tanner noted when talking to the media. Tanner elaborated later by mentioning how much he cherishes his chances to connect with those that have done so much for Gamecock athletics. “I love being here,” Tanner said. “Sometimes as a coach when you’re at events you’re trying
photo by brian hand
Tanner with chapter president Dan Drew.
NYC Gamecocks host Frank Martin by Mike kucharski email@example.com
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South Carolina Gamecocks
By Phil Kornblut
South Carolina filled their needs for the offensive line in the 2015 class with two commitments in the last week giving them five for the positions. Christian Pellage (6-7, 280) of Brooksville, FL picked the Gamecocks over Miami and Florida State. During the process he also considered Alabama, Georgia and Central Florida. Pellage made two trips to USC this year including the Gamecock Showcase Camp in July. It was shortly after that visit to Columbia that Pellage moved the Gamecocks high up on his list. “It really came down to how I felt just being there,” Pellage said. “It just felt right. I felt at home.” At camp, Pellage got the chance to work closely with offensive line coach Shawn Elliott and that, too, left a positive impression on him. “I loved working with Coach Elliott also,” Pellage said. “I really felt a great connection between Coach and I.” Pellage reportedly was favoring Florida State for most of the recruiting campaign but after attending a camp there, the Seminoles reportedly decided not to seek a commitment from him right away but rather wait for another evaluation during the season. Pellage obviously wasn’t interested in waiting on the Seminoles and decided to end his recruitment by committing to the Gamecocks. “I just had a better relationship with the staff and I felt at home here at South Carolina,” Pellage said. Summerville OL Zack Bailey (6-6 315) announced last Monday for the Gamecocks over Clemson. Bailey actually contacted USC offensive line coach Shawn Elliott Sunday to give him the good news first. “He was real happy,” Bailey said. “He was glad I did. They don’t have many spots left. I was a big target for them and they were just real happy to finally get me.” Bailey visited USC and Clemson several times and he liked things about both programs. But when getting down to the final decision, education was a key factor and USC simply had the program Bailey wanted to study. “I want to do criminal justice,” he said. “Clemson doesn’t have it. Carolina has a strong criminal justice program. It just fit. I still like Clemson, they are a great school, it’s just Carolina has the studies I want to do and it was what I want to become in life. My gut told me where to go, so that’s what I did.” Bailey has always been impressed with Elliott from watching him during a spring practice or getting
hands on instructions in a camp, and now he gets the chance to learn at his hip. “I’m excited, I like coach Elliott a lot,” Bailey said. “He’s a good coach. He’s somebody who’s going to get after me. I’m going to work every single day and those few days when I’m going to be tired and don’t want to do stuff but he’s going to force me to do it and at the end of the day it’s for my better good.” USC also added a commitment last Monday night from PK/P Joseph Charlton (6-5 180) of AC Flora. Charlton atPhil Kornblut tended USC’s kicking Contributing camp this summer Writer and performed well enough to draw the attention of special teams coach Joe Robinson. “Joe Robinson sent me a message on Twitter tonight and told me to call him at 8:00,” Charlton said. “After football practice I called him and we talked for a little bit and he said he would like to offer me a full ride. I talked it over with my parents and I called him back and accepted the offer. It’s just awesome. It’s a dream come true. I’ve always loved the Gamecocks.” Charlton said for the 2015 season the Gamecocks want him to concentrate on kickoffs and punting with an eye towards becoming the placekicker once Elliott Fry departs. Last season Charlton was 7-10 on field goals with a long of 52 yards. He also averaged between 45-50 yards per punt. And most of his kickoffs reached the end zone. Charlton said in camp he averaged 77 yards per kickoff. Charlton said he also had an offer from Connecticut and was getting interest from North Carolina and Baylor. He is USC’s 27th commitment for the 2015 class. WR Jalen Julius of Orlando recently decommitted from Florida after committing there in May and is now open regarding his future plans. USC was one of his offers before his first commitment and he talked with Gamecock recruiter Everette Sands recently. “They are still interested since I decommitted,” Julius said. “Coach Sands said he will continue to recruit me. I may schedule an official visit with them.” Julius has set an official visit to Louisville for the
Thursday night game against Florida State October 30th. He said Louisville, Miami and Ole Miss are showing him the most interest at this point. Julius, who also plays cornerback, scored 8 touchdowns in 7 games last season. DB JaQuan Johnson of Miami attended USC’s scrimmage Saturday and plans to return for an official visit during the season. DB Carlton Davis of Miami committed to Ohio State Monday but he still plans to take an official visit to USC. LB Amonte Caban of Smith’s Station, AL was offered last week by Oklahoma. He’s had USC among his favorites along with Kentucky, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Louisville. Dillon fullback Joe Blue, a former USC recruit, will enroll at Georgia Prep in Atlanta. Junior WR Kyran Bowman (6-2 170) of Havelock, NC is the brother of current USC commitment WR Michael Bowman. He is a North Carolina commitment and also has offers from USC and East Carolina. Though he feels strongly about his commitment, he plans to look at USC once again. “I would say it’s almost all the way there with UNC,” Bowman said.“I’m sure I’ll go to some games at South Carolina this year and take another visit there next summer.” Those would not be his first visits to Columbia. “I like it a lot there,” he said. “It’s got a really nice atmosphere and the coaches were cool. They told me that they think I could make an impact there.” The younger Bowman, however, is more inclined to stay closer to home citing North Carolina’s proximity as the main reason for his decision. As a sophomore Bowman totaled 405 yards receiving and six touchdowns. USC made the cut Tuesday night to the final six with 2016 QB Brandon McIlwain (6-1 210) of Newtown, PA. Joining the Gamecocks on the short list are Penn State, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Duke and Florida. ‘I’ve been talking to the coaches at South Carolina since my freshman year so I have a great relationship with the coaches there,” McIlwain said. “My dad went there and my grandmother lives ten minutes away (in Irmo). It’s a place that really feels like home for me. I’ve visited there multiple times and it’s a really great place. Great facilities. Great stadium.
The game atmosphere was amazing. All that put together just made it feel like a place where I can really see myself being.” McIlwain is a threat as a passer and runner and feels is similar in playing style to former Gamecock star Connor Shaw. “We also run the spread in my school so I can see myself fitting in with that offense,” McIlwain said. “(Coach Mangus) has made it clear that I’m his top guy. He’s really not going to offer any other qarterbacks in my class until a little farther down the road.” McIlwain has visited all six of his schools and he said it’s even between them. He plans to visit all six again during the season and is looking at USC’s game against Georgia as his possible visit date to Columbia. After these visits he will get down to making his decision and wants to get that down between December and early spring. “I want to make my decision as soon as I can because I do want to help whatever school I commit to help them recruit,” McIlwain said. “Then, I don’t want to rush it and make a decision that I could possible regret. I’m going to make sure the time is right but do it as soon as I can after my season.” Last season McIlwain passed for 1446 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for 600 yards and 10 touchdowns. Basketball News: 6-7 Keith Stone of Deerfield Beach, FL plans to visit USC soon. Stone told SNY.tv he will visit Florida August 23rd and Alabama September 19th. He also has VCU and Virginia Tech in his top five. 6-5 Tevin Mack of Dreher tells the ClemsonInsider has set an official visit with Georgia for August 29th. He will also take official visits to Clemson, VCU and Oklahoma State. He’s also considering USC but he doesn’t plan to take an official visit there because he’s been there several times and can get there at any time. Baseball News: TL Hanna 2015 RHP Adam Hill (6-5 190) committed to USC last week. He’s the 14th commitment for the class. Lexington 2017 LHP Chase Williamson committed to the Gamecocks Wednesday. He’s the first commitment for that class. Catch Kornblut every night on SportsTalk and get more of his statewide recruiting news at SportsTalkSC.com and on Twitter @SportsTalkSC. **
Spurs & Feathers • 11
August 20, 2014
Frank Martin working hard to grow basketball in Palmetto State by brian hand firstname.lastname@example.org
“You guys having fun? What do you like most: the basketball or the Doritos?” The question posed by now third-year South Carolina men’s basketball head coach Frank Martin when talking to some of the campers at his “Little Gamecock” camp for kindergartners-third graders this summer cut to the core of what the centered statement on FrankMartinBasketballCamps.com articulated: “We put the FUN in FUNdamentals.” Obviously the goal of any basketball camp is to focus on the game itself and Martin and his staff make sure it is known that the overall goal of the camps is about training champions. At the end of the day though when trying to grow basketball in the Palmetto State, Martin knows the younger generation needs to be a part of a memorable experience and that includes enjoying your Doritos while also learning about the game of basketball from some All Gamecock basketball of the best in the coverage sponsored by country. Yesterdays “This is what
it’s all about,” Martin mused. “This is what my job’s all about … it’s about creating a program where your alums, your community, the people that live in the proximity of the campus and grow up Gamecock fans, can bring their children to get around Ty Johnson, Sindarius (Thornwell), Michael Carrera, Mindaugas (Kacinas) and all these guys. “From the age of five, six, like my son right now he’s been doing this since the day I got out here and his classmates that couldn’t wait to get out here to the kids of my neighbors, to the people that live in this neighborhood, that’s what it’s about. It’s all about these kids and giving them role models and aspirations to take advantage of the experiences you can gain through sports to continue to grow. I love
that’s something that’s important to me. It’s important to our staff and our players love it … it’s a great experience. “We’ve got it broken down into two sessions. We’ve got kindergarten through third grade (in the morning) and then (from 1 p.m.-5 p.m.) we bring in third grade through seventh grade. We’ve had a great turnout. The kids have been awesome. Just a whole lot of fun to be around,” Martin expounded. Martin noted that coaching at any level of basketball has its challenges, but it is refreshing to work with children for one simple reason. “I’ve got a 15-year-old,” Martin said. “That’s the biggest coaching job I got every day. That’s camp. I love being around kids,” Martin cona challenge. The innocence of kids this age is tinued. Martin knows that in addition to the children beautiful to be around. You learn something new every day watching them grow. Once they in attendance garnering top-level instruction his current crop of players helping out with the get 15 they think they know every answer and they don’t want to listen anymore, so it becamps also gain valuable experience. comes a different challenge. At this age, these “I don’t mandate that our players work kids they tell you the truth.” camp,” Martin remarked. “If they want to The possible future of Gamecock basketball make money, they’ve got to show up and work, in a Dorito-infused haze on the court maybe not show up and sit in a corner. It’s an opportunity for us to hire our players and pay them a behind him this past summer, Martin acknowledged that while some of the kids at the “Little salary for doing their job. Getting our players Gamecock” camp may one day become a around young kids makes them understand superstar he wasn’t quite ready to pass out any how lucky they are. How lucky they are that so many kids look up to them. (It) makes them offers. understand that they have a greater responsibil- “Our business is getting crazy, but it’s not quite that crazy,” Martin jokingly concluded. ity than just putting the ball in the basket and
12 • Spurs & Feathers
August 20, 2014
Purchase your own mini-statue to help Cocky find a permanent home by brian hand email@example.com The Director of Visitor Services at the University of South Carolina, Denise Wellman knows just how much Cocky means to the University. “Cocky is probably our best ambassador for the University,” Wellman noted. “He ties in everything. His whole character is so much what being a Carolinian is all about: it’s spirit, it’s passion, it’s academics, but it’s also service.” The affinity for Cocky is not just Wellman’s as the award-winning Gamecock mascot is beloved not just throughout the state, but also the region and the nation, especially through his work off the field with Cocky’s Reading Express. “He is loved by friend and foe, young and old, Gamecock or not. Everybody knows Cocky and no matter where he goes everybody flocks to him and wants to have a photo with him,” Wellman elaborated. Despite this passion, Cocky does not have a permanent home on the University of South Carolina campus. Just look around Columbia, there are many tiger statues in Gamecock country, but not one of South Carolina’s beloved mascot. According to Wellman, “Cocky was speechless when he learned about this. It was clear he thought this was a travesty.” Wellman and many others are working to change that and their current campaign allows individuals a chance to be a part of a history making project at South Carolina by possibly obtaining their own mini-statue of Cocky to enjoy for years to come. “The USC Visitor Center has been around since 1994,” Wellman remarked. “The idea to build a place for visitors to congregate really came from a group of passionate students. Not only did they love their University, but they cared about creating a place to tell the story of the University of South Carolina, especially to prospective students. So, we’ve grown into a pretty busy place. We provide more than 2,000 tours a year to prospective students and parents and we have touchpoints with about one and a half million people each year. “What we’re constantly trying to do is help people make a personal attachment with the University. This might be someone’s first visit or they are a frequent visitor but when they visit, they are looking for ways to engaged in the traditions and spirit of Gamecock nation.
Cocky is one of those great traditions and we are one of only a few Division I schools in the country that does not have a place on the campus to honor our mascot. We want to change that and best of all, Cocky wants to be here to welcome you to campus time and time again,” Wellman continued. To help make sure Cocky is always here, the University is raising money to put a lifesize statue of Cocky on campus. South Carolina alum and sculptor Robert Allison designed a bronze maquette of Cocky, which according to Wellman “is sort of the artist’s proof of what the life-size statue would look like.” The bronze maquette is approximately a third of a size of what the life-size statue will be and it is currently housed in the University of South Carolina Visitor Center for all to see. “Cocky is sitting on a bench, resting his hand on some books, inviting you to sit with him or take a photo with him,” Wellman
said. Cocky and the committee working on this project felt like many avid Gamecock fans would want an opportunity to have their own mini version of the statue. In steps Zverse, an entrepreneurial 3D printing company lead by South Carolina alum John Carrington. “John’s exceptional team developed two versions of the mini-statues. One version portrays Cocky in his full colors and another is bronze-like, resembling more what the actual statue will look like,” Wellman commented. To Wellman the campaign is to honor Cocky and all he does for Gamecock Nation. “It is also a campaign to raise money to install Cocky’s life-size statue on campus in 2015 for all to enjoy,” Wellman elaborated. “We have almost finalized the location of where it will be. Rest assured, it will be in a notable spot where people will want to visit, time and time again.”
Wellman pointed out that the statues are selling well, but there is still much work to be done to acquire the funds needed to place the life-size statue on campus. You can now purchase a mini-statue or even your own bronze maquette with proceeds from all sales helping to raise the money to place the life-size statue of Cocky on campus. “The committee working on the project for the last two years is made up of alumni, athletics, students, former mascots, current mascots and a host of staff and creative geniuses from across the campus,” Wellman relayed. “This is not a Visitor Center project even though we’re trying to drive it. This is a project that has widespread support and it really is for everyone who loves USC.” You can purchase your own mini-statue of Cocky by visiting www.CockyStatue.com and chart the progress of the project by visiting www.sc.edu/Cocky. To inquire about purchasing a bronze maquette, contact Wellman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spurs & Feathers • 13
August 20, 2014
Gamecocks ranked ninth in preseason AP poll by brian hand email@example.com
South Carolina is ranked ninth in the preseason Associated Press poll for the 2014 season released on Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. The Gamecocks were also ranked ninth in the preseason USA Today Amway Coaches poll for the 2014 season released on Thursday, July 31,2014. The Gamecocks are the highest ranked SEC East team and one of three SEC teams in the preseason top-10 as they are joined by Alabama (No. 2) and Auburn (No. 6). In total, eight SEC teams are in the preseason AP top-25 with Georgia (No. 12), LSU (No. 13), Ole Miss (No. 18), Texas A&M (No. 21) and Missouri (No. 24) also in the preseason AP top-25. Defending national champion Florida State is the No. 1 team in the preseason poll. South Carolina’s rival Clemson is 16th in the preseason tally. South Carolina has now been ranked in a program-best 65 straight AP polls, which ties them with Stanford for the fifth-longest streak in all of college football. The Gamecocks have also now been in the AP top-10 38 times in school history. The Gamecocks will open their 2014 sea-
son against No. 21 Texas A&M at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 28 at Williams-Brice Stadium. The preseason national ranking comes just weeks after the Gamecocks were picked to win the SEC East by a panel of media members at SEC Media Days. It marked just the second time in school history that the Gamecocks had been tabbed to win the SEC East in the preseason media tally. South Carolina was also selected to win the SEC East at the 2011 SEC Media Days. Alabama was picked as the overall 2014 SEC champion just above South Carolina and Auburn. The Gamecocks collected a total of 1,895 votes to hold off Georgia (1,777) for the top spot in the East in the preseason poll. In the SEC West, Alabama with a total of 1,915 was just ahead of Auburn (1,735). South Carolina was ranked a program-best fourth in the final 2013 Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Polls last season. In both polls, national champion Florida State was No. 1 followed by Auburn and Michigan State. Missouri was just behind the Gamecocks in fifth in both polls. The ranking of fourth marked South Carolina’s first-ever top-5 national finish. The ranking of fourth bested the previous pro-
photo by allen sharpe
gram-best ranking of eighth in the final AP tally and seventh in the final Coaches’ poll of the 2012 season. The Gamecocks have now been ranked in the top-10 in the final polls in
each of the last three seasons. South Carolina, Alabama and Oregon are the only teams to finish in the AP top-10 in each of the last three seasons.
14 • Spurs & Feathers
August 20, 2014
Lexington County has successful fall kickoff by mike kucharski firstname.lastname@example.org The Lexington County Gamecock Club continued to show it is truly great to be a Gamecock at its preseason football kickoff event. The Third Annual “It’s Great to be a Gamecock” event was held on Wednesday, July 30 at the Columbia Conference Center in a sold out event. Chapter president Steve Gunter said that even up until the last days he received ticket requests. “We moved to the bigger venue this year and we were able to completely sell out of tickets. A ton of credit has to go to all the board members who worked so hard in planning and promoting the event. We’re happy to have such a great turnout to support the Gamecocks and get ready for the football season,” Gunter said in opening the event. After a great meal, some raffle drawings and the silent auction bidding closed the Gamecock assistant coaches were able to take the stage, however first Gunter had a surprise to reveal. He presented the Gamecock Club - Executive Director Patrick McFarland and Assistant Directors Jay Brown and Wayne Hiott were in attendance - with a check for $29,000. The funds will go to support the men’s and women’s basketball program and a portion will be used for the Block C fund to revamp the facade of Williams-Brice Stadium. “This is the largest donation that we have received from any chapter and we are extremely grateful for the support and dedication from all of you,” McFarland commented. “This is a great donation, a great event and you should all be proud.” After the presentation the stage was open to the Gamecock coaches as the majority of the assistant coaching staff was in attendance. Each coach told a little about himself and his family and talked about his position group or the players he works the most with, but each of them also took time to recognize the role the Gamecock Club members and fans play in the program. Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward opened it up by saying “thank you for everything that you do because we couldn’t do any of this without you. We are extremely appreciative of all your dedication and support.” Director of football strength and conditioning Joe Connolly was next and thanked the members and fans before talking about the team’s summer workouts. “We’re grateful for all the support that comes from you guys and it means a lot to us to be here tonight. We gave up our last
night of freedom to speak here (players reported for fall camp Thursday, July 31), but we’re happy to do it because of the support you show us,” Connolly said. Secondary coach Grady Brown expressed his thoughts on why it is great to be a Gamecock as well before discussing the defensive backs. “I said it last year and I will continue to say it: there is a reason that a lot of coaches like to stay around at South Carolina … this is a really, really hard job to leave because of the head coach, my defensive coordinator, but mostly it’s because of the city of Columbia, Lexington county and everyone that is a supporter of South Carolina,” Brown explained. “It’s a great time to be a part of what’s going on. You guys always thank us for coming and for what we’re doing, but thank you guys for having us because it’s a pleasure.” Running backs coach Everette Sands talked about his background and his position group, but started by recognizing the fans as well. “I am so excited to be here at the University of South Carolina … again, I want to thank you all for all that you do. You are a major reason why we have the longest home winning streak in the country and I want to be able to stand up here next year and say that we still have the longest streak in the country,” Sands said. Defensive line coach Deke Adams talked about his players after opening with compliments to the fans. “The support that you give the program and what you do for us is amazing … I used to wear my headset with one ear uncovered before, but I can’t do that here. I can’t hear what they’re saying because you are so loud at games and we just love that support,” Adams commented. Linebackers coach Kirk Botkin brought his energy in talking about the Gamecock fans and his position group. “I’m happy to be here. Coach Ward asked me again to be here and I said ‘man, we love coming out here.’ I’m all in and ready to be out with these great fans, the best fans in the country,” Botkin said. Camden, S.C. native, offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Shawn Elliott, talked about his lifelong love of the Gamecocks, the fans and his offensive line. “I travel around and do a lot of Gamecock Club events … it’s enjoyable to come out here and share with y’all who support us so much,” Elliott said. Quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus also thanked the fans for their support before discussing the Gamecock quarterback situation. “Thank you all for having us here today
photo by mike kucharski
Lexington County president Steve Gunter (far right) presents a $29,000 contribution to the Gamecock Club’s Patrick McFarland, Jay Brown and Wayne Hiott (from right-to-left). and in a bigger sense thank you for all that you do for the Gamecocks. Your support is huge both through the Gamecock Club and on gamedays when you’re out in the stands,” Mangus commented. Ward returned to close out the coaches portion of the event with a question-andanswer session before those in attendance got a chance to meet with the coaches,
dance to a DJ and pick up their raffle and silent auction winnings. “This was a great time, a great night. I again want to thank everyone who helped put this on and especially the coaches for coming out tonight. I hope you had a great time and we can’t wait for the 28th to get here with Texas A&M,” Gunter said to close the event.
Spurs & Feathers • 15
August 20, 2014
Linebackers: from question mark to strength by mike kucharski email@example.com
South Carolina’s linebacking corps gained experience last season and went from being one of the biggest question marks on the team to finishing the year as one of the biggest strengths. “We were inexperienced,” junior middle linebacker Kaiwan Lewis commented. “I never really understood what experience would be for us until we had to get out there and finally gain our experience, gain our confidence and I feel like as the season went on we grew up. After we got to that bye week and looked at the old film we started to get better and create turnovers. “We had a bunch of turnovers, the top-four leading tacklers on the team, and it was just a growing up period. With the experience this year we’re looking to have an even better season with a faster start,” Lewis continued. Fifth-year senior spur Sharrod Golightly agreed that the team was tested in a “trialby-fire” early in 2013. “I think we grew up. Over the year, the first four games we had to use as stepping stones to kind of get baptized in the conference, but throughout the year I thought we got better collectively,” Golightly agreed. Lewis further expounded on the way the linebackers progressed throughout the season last year. “I felt like throughout the season we had to be together as a linebacking corps because the chips were kind of stacked against us as far as we had a terrible Georgia game as a linebacking corps,” Lewis said. “That kind of stuck with us for awhile throughout the season, so we just felt like we had to stick together and build each other up each week. I feel like that’s what we’ve done and we’re excited for what’s to come. “I feel like we’re all growing. I’m just excited about what we’re going to bring to the table this year as linebackers. We started off as a weakness last year, so this year it will be fun to keep the ball rolling from the bowl game, the Clemson game and just keep the ball rolling,” Lewis added. The credit for progression of the Gamecock linebackers goes to position coach Kirk Botkin according to Lewis. “I think he’s done a great job. When camp starts he takes it from step one as if we’re all freshmen,” Lewis said. “We start in the playbook from day one with the basics and we go back to the basics when we’re working physically in practice - just learning how to tackle, learning the first two steps and
photo by allen sharpe
Kaiwan Lewis after his interception in Capital One Bowl win over Wisconsin.
things like that. “He definitely takes us and holds our hand to a standpoint of getting us better day-in and day-out. He tries to keep it exciting, lets us know that we’ve got to get better each day and to make every day our best day,” Lewis expounded. Golightly said that he has grown as a leader and hopes to take advantage of his final season. He said the cohesion of the linebacking corps, and the team in a larger sense, should lead to a tremendous year on the field. “In college you grow up fast, but at the same time you mature so I’ve got to take advantage of these moments. I think it was more or less of a foundation to know what I’ve got to do this year just to put the icing on the cake and try to be a leader this year,” Golightly said. “The team is really close and we could make a big run … on and off the field we’ve got good guys and it translates on the field and it translates into wins.” Lewis said that the linebackers are not taking anything for granted heeding into the season despite being the most experienced position group on the Gamecock defense. “We still feel like underdogs, so every day we’re grinding and working hard to be the best linebacking corps in the country … I feel like we have the potential to be just that. We’re working just to get better and try to become the No. 1 linebacking corps in the nation,” Lewis stated. “We have guys that have been here, so it’s going to be another big season, as big as we make it. We had a great offseason of training, so we’re going into camp optimistic, everybody’s healthy and we’re looking forward to having a great season game by game.”
16 • Spurs & Feathers
August 20, 2014
Gold Medal Gamecocks by mike kucharski firstname.lastname@example.org
South Carolina women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley and freshman A’ja Wilson returned to Columbia victorious from the FIBA Americas U18 Championships. While clutching her gold medal Wilson said that her second experience and gold medal with Team USA was even better than the first. “Last year was great, but this year was really something special to me because I got a chance to play with coach Staley before South Carolina’s season starts. Really going out there with her and getting to play underneath her was very special. It’s always great to go out to Colorado, they treat us really well out there, but this year was really, really special to me … it got me really excited for this upcoming season,” Wilson explained. Although both Staley and Wilson are veterans of international competition, each said that they enjoy every experience they have with Team USA. “It really doesn’t get old anytime you have an opportunity to represent your country in any way. It was a little different for me because I wasn’t used to coaching all 17- and 18-year-olds. They make you laugh, they make you cry, but they also love basketball and you can tell in the way they approach the game and the way they played the game. Hopefully they learned what it takes to play on a high level … hopefully they’ll take it back and grow the game,” Staley remarked. “The feeling is just indescribable. It’s a great feeling just to have those three letters go across your chest and knowing that you’re playing for your country is special … having that jersey on means so, so much to me no matter how many times I put it on, no matter if it’s white or navy. Just having that jersey on is very special,” Wilson agreed. Wilson had a stellar tournament and was named the MVP after averaging 19.0 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Wilson helped seal the gold medal victory over Canada with a 25-point, All Gamecock basketball 11-rebound percoverage sponsored by formance in the Yesterdays 30-point win.
While Staley was impressed by Wilson’s performance on the court, she said that there were some evaluations on things to work on leading into the season, but she is a terrific offensive threat. Staley noted that she was even more pleased to see Wilson’s leadership off the court. “I think A’ja is by far skilled from an offensive standpoint. She wants to score and has the ability to score a lot of different ways. I was happy that she had success on and off the court. I think anytime that you’re named the captain of any team … I think she was the unanimous captain of our team, so I think I was more proud of that part of it because I think she’ll one day captain our basketball team here at South Carolina,” Staley said. Wilson agreed that the most valuable experience that she got and can carry back to campus came from taking a leadership role and serving as team captain. “This being my second year I was kind of the veteran and the girls looked up to me. I kind of had to take that leadership role and it really meant that much more to me,” Wilson said. “I would have to say I can bring back kind of being a vocal leader. Out there I was the veteran so really I kind of had to show that leadership. “Now coming on here even though I’m a freshman, just still kind of having that leadership that if I see something I can say something and speak up. USA really helped me build up my confidence a lot for the upcoming season,” Wilson added. With this experience over, Staley said her focus focus switches back to South Carolina commenting, “I’ve just got to make sure that my priority stays with our team because I’ve got a young group. We’ve got a young group and an experienced group and we’ve got to figure out a way to get them to mesh.” Staley reiterated that the experience would be helpful for Wilson at South Carolina and knows that this success will help drive her to find more in Garnet & Black. “I think any time that you play at a high level, especially when you play against some of the best young players across the country and the world it will help. I think A’ja is driven and she wants to be the best, so whatever experiences that she has had, I think she’s going to top those experiences when she steps on the floor and puts on a Gamecock uniform. I think she was born to be a Gamecock and she’ll want to play her best basketball for us,” Staley said.
photo by allen sharpe
Spurs & Feathers • 17
August 20, 2014
Gamecock pride in Beaufort County by mike kucharski email@example.com
children - a son, Neal, who is also on the board with the Beaufort County Gamecock Club and a daughter, Miley,” McCarty explained. Many fans in South Carolina have Gamecock “Years ago we started to come before they were pride, but Linda McCarty, Beaufort County born and and then we continued to do so. My Gamecock Club board member, has so much it daughter had no interest in going to the football influenced her decision in finding a home. games, but the little one loved it. It’s been funny “My son is in real estate here and we bought because the people that used to see Neal as a litthis house on Cat Island. He wanted to show me tle boy laugh now because he’s 37 and they have three or four houses. He said, ‘mom, one is on watched him grow up. We still sit in the same Carolina Lane,’ and I said, ‘well let’s just go look seats so you get to know everyone around you. at that one.’ I bought a house on Carolina Lane, I have three precious grandchildren: Kennedy, so I am a big fan for sure,” McCarty explained. Emmaline and Wells. My son-in-law, Jackson, McCarty was a fifth-grade teacher for 30 is great and wonderful except he is a Clemson years in Dorchester county before retiring to fan. We do not talk football during the fall; it Beaufort County with her husband Belton (a makes everyone nervous around us.” former South Carolina golfer who played in the She became a member of the Beaufort County 1960s). She would give an A to anyone in her board and after working a golf tournament in classes if they wore a Gamecock outfit or t-shirt Hilton Head, McCarty helped start Beaufort’s to school once a month. golf tournament about five years ago. The McCartys have been Gamecock Club “Earl DePriest, who is a big donor said that he members for 35 years and still attend all the would be my main sponsor, so that’s how this home football games in the seats that they have sort of evolved,” McCarty explained. “We had had for years. They love to tailgate and see all 22 hole sponsors and 128 players this year. It’s their friends, especially the ones they only see the most we’ve ever had. I believe the first year in the fall. we had about 80, so it has really grown. “We originally lived in Summerville when we “Wayne Hiott really complimented us on our started going to the football games. I have two golf tournament and the way it was run. It is
a lot of work. I try to do everything because I want to raise as much money as possible to give to the Gamecock Club. It is a lot of calling, sending out letters, getting raffle prizes, setting up food and drinks and decorating. I love to donate my time,” McCarty continued. The Beaufort county chapter has donated $5,000 every year to the Gamecock Club, but upped the donation to $7,000 this year to help with the Block C campaign for the facade of Williams-Brice Stadium. McCarty said the chapter also assists some local charities including sponsoring a Christmas tree decked in Gamecock decorations for Carolina Hospice. McCarty says that she follows the baseball team closely and used to attend many basketball games before retirement, but her love is Gamecock football. She memorizes the players and their numbers every year. She particularly enjoys seeing players from the state and true freshmen performing well. “It has been great to see them do so well under Steve Spurrier. He has done a super job of hiring some of the best assistant coaches I have seen in the SEC. A great thing is that they’ve gotten into the high schools in South Carolina and they have made contact with the coaches. I just love having our recruits from South Carolina,”
Belton and Kennedy, Linda and Emmaline. McCarty said. “Guys like Stephon Gilmore, Jadeveon Clowney, Marcus Lattimore, Bruce Ellington, Brandon Shell, Dylan Thompson and of course from Beaufort, Devin Taylor and Jimmy Legeree. “I think coach Spurrier has been huge for us and what he has done is just wonderful. I am excited for this year and I truly think that they will really do well. Then we have Ray Tanner with all of his support, encouragement and knowledge. We could not have a finer athletics director,” McCarty added.
18 • Spurs & Feathers
August 20, 2014
Spurrier, Gamecocks ready to keep pushing towards claiming SEC crown by brian hand firstname.lastname@example.org Steve Spurrier knows that the culture has completely changed at South Carolina as the Head Ball Coach has led the Gamecocks to 33 wins over the last three seasons and 42 victories over the last four years. He spoke openly on the success of the Gamecocks over the past few years as well as many other subjects during his annual appearance at the Columbia Touchdown Club at Seawell’s Restaurant on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. Big things are expected from the USA Today preseason ninth-ranked team in the country and Spurrier is not shy about one of the ways he is helping to prepare his team for the upcoming season, which is by protecting them as much as possible from injuries. Obviously injuries are going to happen no matter how many precautions are undertaken, but Spurrier is a big proponent of keeping things to a minimum from his end. “I told our guys this morning one thing we have done well is protect each other and protect yourself,” Spurrier commented. “I talk about that every day. Just make sure nobody gets hurt. We had about a 70-play half scrimmage, we didn’t tackle to the ground, and nobody got hurt. The worst thing in a world to me is a team beats itself up and gets a bunch of guys hurt in practice. If you get hurt in the game that’s part of the game, but not part of practice, so we protect each other.
“We try to hit, but before the hard collisions we avoid falling in the legs and things of that nature. Football is a dangerous sport as we know and to me it’s really stupid that coaches they don’t try to protect their players every practice. Even when we scrimmage we try to protect each other,” Spurrier continued. Spurrier’s methods were questioned when the Gamecocks were not winning at the level they wanted during the early portion of his tenure, but since he has turned the Gamecocks into a national force Spurrier is more than cognizant that perception has changed. “When I first got here we practiced like that and some of these people that really knew
and future of Gamecock football is a sign that they have a chance to keep things going well for a while. “I tell you another thing that’s very neat is that we’ve been getting a lot of commitments for next year,” Spurrier said. “One of the coaches told me that Rivals.com that keeps up with recruiting right now we’re No. 2 in the nation. Obviously Alabama’s No. 1 like every year, but it’s been sort of neat watching all these players commit to us. They could go to Florida, Georgia, Tennessee or even Ohio State and so forth. Highly recruited guys that we think are going to be good players.” Despite the high rankings in all areas don’t expect Spurrier and the Gamecocks to rest on their laurels anytime soon, particularly with the photo by brian hand 2014 season about to commence. “We’ve had a good run and we’ve got to keep pushing,” Spurrier remarked. “Our school does football said we don’t practice tough enough,” not have that super-duper tradition like a SouthSpurrier mused. “Nobody gets hurt out there. ern Cal. They say schools like Southern Cal Now that we’re winning it’s pretty smart. Of course (then) we were winning seven. I used to have some down years, but they always come travel and some of my buddies used to say ‘boy, back. We have to make sure we don’t go back down. We’ve got to really, really keep pushing you guys are struggling down there at South and pushing to stay up there. The way we’re Carolina aren’t you, coach? I said, well we’ve recruiting right now we certainly have a chance averaged seven wins for five years, which is to do that. So we’ve got to keep pushing and 35. That’s the most in any five-year period in school history, so we’re not struggling as much pushing and trying to hang near the top and I as you think, but we do want to do a lot better.’” hope one year we can win us an SEC. If we can The Gamecocks since that point in time have win an SEC (title) then obviously we can win the national (title). This team has a way to go done a lot better and the numbers speak for themselves and Spurrier considers the fact that and hopefully we can get there and it is going to be a tough one (with) Texas A&M.” so many recruits are buying into the present
our home winning streak, think about winning 11 three years in a row, it’s a good place to be. “Another thing that we talk a lot about is last year we had a smaller class and we spent a lot of time two years ago identifying this class … we spent a lot of time on these guys evaluating them and recruiting the heck out of them and it’s really coming together. I’m kind of curious to see what the final number is going to be, but a lot of people want to be Gamecocks,” Spurrier, Jr. continued. Spurrier, Jr. noted that he enjoys being able to sell the program to prospects and their families right now. “A parent was asking me a lot of questions and I said, ‘I like answering questions because we can answer them.’ We’ve got a lot to sell here. It’s a heck of a program and people want to be a part of it. It’s kind of fun,” Spurrier, Jr.
commented. The improvements to the football facilities that are scheduled are part of the sell according to Spurrier, Jr., but the benefits of the program are the biggest draw right now. “What we’ve done on the field, what we’ve done in the classroom, what our players have done off the field make this a program that people want to be a part of,” Spurrier, Jr. said. “Certainly as those things get developed, that indoor comes along and that new dorm which is really going to be nice, they will help. Obviously our Dodie Academic Center has paid a lot of dividends because we’re always in there. (Associate AD/Academics and Student Development) Maria Hickman and her staff do a great job and we’ve just got a lot going for us right now.” When asked how he felt about this class being ranked with some of the traditional recruiting
‘A lot of people want to be Gamecocks’ by mike kucharski email@example.com South Carolina football already has commitments for most of its 2015 signing class which is currently ranked in the top-five in the nation, as high as second, by recruiting services. The Gamecocks have drawn verbal commitments early this year with a larger class than usual at this point in the recruiting cycle. Cooffensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier, Jr. said he is pleased, but not surprised by the number of players that want to come to South Carolina. “If you look at what we’ve done, what our program has done, what we’ve done academically and keeping players out of trouble, it’s just a good place to be a football player and people know that,” Spurrier, Jr. said. “You think about
powers such Alabama and LSU, Spurrier, Jr. said he felt that is how it should be. “We finished No. 4 in the country last year and we ought to recruit that way. We expect that,” Spurrier, Jr. commented. “If we’re going to be a top-10 team, if we’re going to compete in the SEC, then we’ve got to recruit with them and there’s a lot of great schools in this conference. We expect to be in the top-10, top-5. “When we recruit a kid he better be offered by Georgia, Florida, Tennessee. That’s the guys we’re recruiting against. If we want to compete with those guys then we have to recruit with those guys. That’s certainly where we expect to be,” Spurrier, Jr. added. As far as how the class has shaped up thus far, Spurrier, Jr. simply said, “we’ve got a little bit of everything, so this is as good a class right now as I can imagine having.”
Spurs & Feathers • 19
August 20, 2014
What a difference a year makes
This time last year the Gamecocks had all the pieces in place to have one of the more memorable seasons in Gamecock history. Finishing the season ranked No. 4 in the polls you wouldn’t know the Gamecocks had one of the youngest teams in the country last season, especially at linebacker. The biggest question mark last year for the Gamecocks was “who would play linebacker?” Replacing one of the deepest positions from the 2012 season linebackers coach Kirk Botkin along with newly appointed GA Shaq Wilson’s duty to take these players from #justchickens and turn them into Gamecocks. The crew of Skai Moore, Jonathan Walton, Kaiwan Lewis, TJ Holloman, Larenz Bryant along Langston Moore with underclassContributing Writer men Marcquis Roberts and Jordan Diggs rose to the challenge. With eight returning players at LB/Spur, all being underclassmen except for senior Sharrod Golightly. defensive coordinator “Whammy” Ward is set to
make this group the strength of the Gamecocks. Shifting from a 4-2-5 look to a 3-4 look to get as many of these young LBs on the field at one time. Fast forward, coach Spurrier and the Gamecocks continue to rewrite the standard for winning and success here in Columbia. The Gamecocks continued their string of “home wins.” Currently the Gamecocks hold the nation’s longest winning streak (thanks Clempson), but lose some valuable players due to graduation and overall successes of the program. Some of the biggest losses are on the defensive side of the ball, losing all-Americans Quarles and Clowney as well as fifth-year vet Chaz sutton. This trio of defensive lineman accounted for over 15 sacks last season, and will be sorely missed. With Jimmy Legree and Victor Hampton making their departures as well to the NFL, the Gamecock defense will have to find another way to keep the high standard of defensive play up minus these proven starters. So the question is “how?” Coach Ward’s answer to that question is taking a group that was once the youngest and most inexperienced (the young LBs) and making them the feature of our 2014 SEC defensive campaign. In the spring, coach Ward and his staff tinkered and adjusted the defense to put as many of these young athletes on the field as possible. A group
of talented young players who should be even bigger, stronger and faster after a year under Joe Connolly’s strength & conditioning program. Not to mention all the valuable in-game experience this group accumulated. They should play the game at a very fast pace and make adjustments on the fly. As a group of young underclassmen, all the LBs made their impact on the Gamecock season last year. With Lewis making 10 starts last year along with big stops on the road in Mizzou, Moore finished the season atop the Gamecock defense in tackles and interceptions. Holloman not to be outdone recorded 3 INTs on his way to a third-team freshman all-American campaign. Golightly also received postseason All-SEC awards at Spur for his play. The “Most Improved” award winners from the spring were Walton and Diggs and they rounded out a group that is deep and vast with talent. Coach Ward has to like his blend of young, eager to please talent that’s battle tested in SEC play to lead the way for a “Clowneyless” Gamecock defense. The shift in defensive scheme for a program that has been known for its high level of play over the last decade is an exciting one. In 2013, the Gamecocks ranked in the top-20 nationally in scoring defense (12th), passing defense (12th) and total defense (19th). With so much talent at
the LB position it makes you overlook the lack of depth elsewhere on this 2014 squad. The biggest adjustments for the Gamecock defense will be their “fits” and the ability to decipher plays so they can “play fast” in this new scheme. As my old head coach for the Detroit Lions Rod Maranelli used to say “see a little, see a lot.” This is the philosophy Coach Ward and the rest of the Gamecock defensive staff have always implemented during there tenure at South Carolina. Keeping the scheme simple for there players allows for them to put their “cleats in the dirt” and to play fast. The simplicity allows these players to showcase their athletic prowess on the field. The good thing about having a talented young group of LB’s like this is that they have no idea how good they can be. With coach Ward’s philosophy, Botkin’s former SEC player mentality and a host of young recruits to keep the talent flowing into the program (Bryson Allen-Williams for example), the Gamecocks seem ready to gang tackle the 2014 SEC schedule with this new defensive look. Follow Langston Moore on Twitter at @reMovetheChains #eat2win #YOBY #Justachicken
20 • Spurs & Feathers
August 20, 2014
Nick Jones looking to break out
photo by allen sharpe
by mike kucharski firstname.lastname@example.org
well.” Thompson and Jones have known one another for years and Thompson recalled they Fifth-year senior receiver Nick Jones hopes each injured each other playing basketball to make a splash in his final season after be- in middle school, but noted they have been ing overlooked for much of his career. close throughout their relationship. “I’ve been overlooked ever since I was in “A funny story about Nick and myself is high school,” Jones said after the first prac- we’re playing basketball against each other tice of the fall. “I played with All-Ameriin seventh grade and he went up for a lacans in high school, they overlooked me. yup and I fouled him and broke his wrist,” Ever since I got here, they’ve overlooked Thompson remembered. “Then in eighth me too. I don’t look to prove people wrong, grade there was a loose ball, I was running I just come out here to have fun, just enjoy after it, he bumped into me and I broke my my senior year and enjoy my last year of ankle. So we kind of got some revenge on football. each other a little bit then, but we’ve been so “Of course you see those things and when close since we were eight, nine, 10 years old. you’re in the weight room those things cross “We know each other probably better than your mind when you’re on your last rep and I know anybody on this team. He’s fun. you do everything possible to get it. I kind Nick’s fun, but he works man. He works of embrace the role now,” Jones expounded so hard and he’s got a great attitude, so just at South Carolina’s 2014 media day. knowing that in that moment that he’s been Jones has been working hard since the end around and knows everything that’s goof last season to improve his consistency, ing on, it’s real comforting (to have him in something that quarterback Dylan Thomp- crunch time),” Thompson said. son has seen firsthand. When asked about Jones said that he spent time over the suma player who could have a breakout season, mer working on quickness and agility to Thompson said, “that guy right there, Nick provide more constancy this season. Jones. His work ethic man … every day I “I feel a lot more comfortable. I’m as light come in the weight room and after we’re as I’ve ever been, quick as I’ve ever been, finished working out in the middle of the fast as I’ve ever been. I’m leaner than I’ve heat in the afternoon, Nick’s jumping rope, ever been and I just feel comfortable and catching balls, running routes over and over ready to go,” Jones commented. and over. Then you’re seeing him out here in While 33 wins over the past three seasons practice making plays. That stuff translates has been tremendous for the Gamecocks,
Jones said that they are never satisfied which helped drive the team’s work during the offseason. “We always had that one game in the past that we just couldn’t get over the hump and after we looked at it in the offseason, we saw we didn’t do a lot of the little things that actually mattered. So this year in the offseason we made sure that we did a lot of those little things that we didn’t do in the previous years, so hopefully it’ll pay off for us,” Jones explained. He noted that the whole team is working
to get better every day in preparation for the season-opener with Texas A&M. He said it could be a special year for the offense and the receiving corps is working to be the best they can and make all the plays that come their way. Jones added that he is looking forward to the running out of the tunnel on Aug. 28. “It’s the best feeling in the world; running out to these 80,000 fans is surreal … we have the best fans in the country and we feel like with these fans behind us we can win against anybody,” Jones concluded.
Spurs & Feathers • 21
August 20, 2014
photo by Mike Kucharski
Todd & Moore’s G. Moore (left) and Chuck Todd (right) congratulate Jim Moore on his retirement after 55 years working on the sales staff.
Todd & Moore celebrates 70 years in style by mike kucharski email@example.com
After the recognition many of those in attendance mingled around with the coaches, had refreshments served from Cromer’s Todd & Moore Sporting Goods held a cer- P-nuts and enjoyed some special 70th anemony to celebrate its 70th anniversary on niversary cake. Thursday, Aug. 7 with great support. “It is tremendous to have this turnout A number of current and former high … we had about 12 or 15 former employschool and college coaches came out to ees make the trip here today and all these celebrate on “the world famous landing” at coaches had other things to do, so it means a Todd & Moore as proclamations recognizlot that they made the trip,” Moore said after ing the 70 years of business from Governor the ceremony. “I’ve been here 50 years out Nikki Haley and Representative Joe Wilson of the 70 and we would like to say that we’re were read. going to make at least 30 more to get to 100 A number of former employees also made … I hope that I’m here to see that and I hope the trip to help celebrate and G. Moore that our community here in Columbia and looked back on his 50 years in the busiour customers, who are the absolute best in ness. During the ceremony Jim Moore was the world, can celebrate with us.” also recognized for his 55 years at Todd & Many of the former employees described a Moore as he heads to retirement. family atmosphere from their time at Todd “Thank you all for being here. This is a & Moore, which is why they were excited to great occasion for the Todd & Moore famcome for the celebration. Susan Morris deily to have made 70 years,” G. Moore said. scribed the environment, saying “it’s almost “We’re celebrating our 70 years, but we’re like a family reunion being back. It’s a really also recognizing one of our all stars. Jim has good place to work and they treat you like been the backbone of one our teams that I family and you end up feeling like family. I feel that I can say has been the best in the think it’s a great accomplishment to be here state for the past 55 years.” for 70 years and I think they deserve the
recognition they received.” Former head football coach at Furman, The Citadel and East Carolina Art Baker was one of the coaches in attendance who said, “it was important for me to be here today because Todd & Moore is an institution in Columbia and in the sports world in South Carolina. I’ve had a lot of good times just sitting around talking up on that landing.” The celebration stretched throughout the store as Todd & Moore had over $3,000 worth of giveaways and continued to offer knowledge and customer service to people who came in looking for things from running shoes to football pads. “I think part of it is friendships that we’ve made over 70 years … we’ve always had the coffee pot on and anybody is welcome to come on by,” Moore said of what makes Todd & Moore special. “Coaches of South Carolina have supported us over the years and we’ve always tried to offer the best knowledge and customer service at a reasonable price. Hopefully that can help us continue to be successful here and look toward the next big anniversary.”
22 • Spurs & Feathers
August 20, 2014
Gamecock coaches, SEC Network kick off fall season by mike kucharski firstname.lastname@example.org
have changed at the University of South Carolina. Our facilities, our winning percentage and much more. It’s a credit to so many The My Carolina Alumni Association Fall coaches and so many student-athletes, but the Sports Preview brought excitement from the main constant is you fans,” Tanner said. South Carolina coaches and fans as the SEC After addressing the crowd, both Spurrier Network launched with live shots from the and Tanner made appearances on the SEC event. Network for a live shots with Spake. Next to Shannon Spake of the SEC Network was address the crowd were Berson and Swanson live on location to showcase the excitement of to discuss their teams and thank those gathGamecock athletics via the SEC Network. ered for the fan support. “It’s interesting because obviously in an“We’re looking forward to big things. I ticipation of the SEC Network getting ready think that we’ll have a team that will be excitto start I knew how big this was going to be,” ing to watch … we’re excited as a program Spake commented. “Then coming here and with this year everyone watching the World seeing coach Tanner, coach Spurrier and all Cup. South Carolina was one of only two of the alumni here how excited they are to schools in the country to have a player on have the SEC Network as kind of a home for the last four World Cup teams,” Berson said. their conference and team is pretty awesome. “Hopefully we’ve got the next one here, so It’s really cool to be here tonight.” on behalf of our soccer team and Shelley Todd Ellis served as the emcee for the event, Smith and the women’s team who are playing getting the crowd fired up and introducing tonight, we really appreciate your support … South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanthank you for all you do, we really hope to see ner, head football coach Steve Spurrier, head you at Stone Stadium this fall and go Gamemen’s soccer coach Mark Berson and head cocks.” volleyball coach Scott Swanson. Women’s “I’m proud to say that we’re building a prosoccer head coach Shelley Smith could not gram right now where our players are going attend the event because her team had an ex- to be proud to come back and be alumni,” hibition at Duke the same evening to open its Swanson said. “Our gym is a completely fall campaign. different place than it was the last two years “Are we ready for some Carolina Athletand I couldn’t be more excited about that. We ics?” Ellis said to open the program. “What need you guys to come out and support us on a year 2013 was and all indications are that Friday nights and for our Sunday matches … we are looking forward to another great year we are excited, we are really, really thankful at athletics at your University of South Caro- for all of your support and go Gamecocks.” lina.” While there was plenty of excitement surEllis also casually and jokingly made sure rounding the Fall Sports Preview, there was the SEC Network knew the Gamecocks wear an extra buzz with the SEC Network going Garnet and Black - not any other color, that live from the event. Senior Associate AD/ExConnor Shaw is the winningest quarterback ternal Affairs Charles Bloom recognized the photo by brian hand of all-time at 27-5, but “the leading passer historic day and commented on the benefits of Tanner talks with Shannon Spake of the SEC Network and ESPN at the Fall Preview Party. all-time is Todd Ellis” before introducing the the SEC Network becoming a reality. Head Ball Coach. “I really believe that this is something that Spurrier pointed out how much things will for the long term benefit us tremendously have changed since being “sort of stuck on in getting the word out for South Carolina as seven wins for my first five years,” but noted well as the conference. It will also help us set that donations from Gamecock boosters a great financial future for the league. It’s a and alumni have improved the facilities to tremendous achievement to get something bring in great players like Marcus Lattimore, like this together and a lot of people get a Alshon Jeffery and Jadeveon Clowney to lot of credit here as well as at all the schools name a few. around the league and the conference office. “Then all of you that pack the stadium and I’m extremely happy and extremely proud scream and yell. Right now we’ve got the best that this has taken place,” Bloom explained. home field advantage in America because Tanner also recognized the magnitude of we’ve got the longest win streak at home. It’s the night and the momentum that South Caroa fact,” Spurrier explained. “We’ve won 18 lina athletics have built across the board headin a row and not only that, but in the last five ing into the 2014-15 athletic year. years we’re 32-3 at Williams-Brice Stadium “This is a historical and exciting night … and that’s thanks to you.” we’re getting the opportunity now to enjoy Tanner was next and he also recognized the unprecedented success across all sports and fan support for their help in bringing South I’m excited to kick off our fall sports,” Tanner Carolina athletics to an unprecedented level. said. “We’re going to win across our sports “Thank you for all of your support and as at a level that has never been accomplished at coach Spurrier has said, over the years things this university.”
Spurs & Feathers • 23
August 20, 2014
Catching up with Nolan Belcher by mike kucharski email@example.com One of the most popular pitchers from South Carolina’s runs to the College World Series was a player whose talent and heart outsized his stature on the mound in Nolan Belcher. Belcher has stayed around baseball and will be entering his second year on the coaching staff of USC Aiken and will be handling the pitching staff in the upcoming athletic year. “Last summer when I was looking for work I came across (USC Aiken assistant coach) Jason Walck and he kind of pitched the idea of coming down and being a volunteer,” Belcher explained. “So I moved down to Aiken last August. Last year was my first year there and I was doing a little bit of everything. “This past summer they told me that I’m going to have all the responsibilities of pitching this upcoming year. Technically I will be the pitching coach this upcoming year, so I’m looking forward to it,” Belcher continued. Belcher was a volunteer because he served as a graduate assistant as he is currently working to earn an MBA in finance. He said that he wanted to pursue the Master’s degree before he “got too old and didn’t want to go back to school,” but said that he had always thought about coaching. Playing for coaches Ray Tanner, Chad Holbrook and Jerry Meyers at South Carolina gave Belcher some strong role models to emulate not to mention being on the staff of Pacers’ head coach Kenny Thomas who has tallied over 1,000 career victories. “I don’t do everything exactly the same as it was done with me there, but I do catch myself always repeating coach Tanner’s lines or coach Meyers or coach Holbrook to the guys. Everything they taught us up there was good stuff, so you might as well use it if you have it in the bank,” Belcher commented. As a native of Augusta, Ga., Belcher said that he was familiar with the Peach Belt Conference and its baseball prowess in NCAA Division II, but he was pleasantly surprised at the talent level and work ethic of the players on USC Aiken and around the conference, not to mention some of the facilities. “We went to Francis Marion this year and they have a great facility, played the regional at Lander and they have a great facility. Obviously we have a good facility over in Aiken. Some of the stadiums in this conference are kind of what like you see in some DI places. We have the locker room, the weight room and all that set up right there for pretty much a DI setup at the DII level,” Belcher expounded. Belcher said that his experiences with the Gamecocks will help him approach and connect with the Pacer pitching staff. “Having that experience and having already done that kind of stuff should give me some credibility, but hopefully they listen to every
usc aiken sports information
coach,” Belcher said. “I’ve pitched on the weekend, I’ve pitched out of the bullpen, I’ve battled injuries, went through some times where I wasn’t pitching at all, so I’ve been through pretty much every role possible as far as a pitcher on a collegiate team. “Those experiences help a lot and hopefully when I talk to guys about it they believe me to a certain extent and that can help them out,” Belcher added. As far as his experiences at South Carolina, Belcher said that of course he remembers the 2010 College World Series championship in 2010 at Roseblatt Stadium “like it was yesterday.” He explained however that his favorite thing about his time as a Gamecock is seeing his former teammates be successful and the relationships they created. “I’m just kind of in awe sitting back and watching what they’re doing at the professional levels. Three guys have already made the big leagues and I think within the next year or two there is probably going to be three or four more,” Belcher explained. “Just how much success that they’ve experienced after their time at Carolina is probably what I’m most proud of. “I think that’s another good thing about the athletic department in Columbia is the culture that the relationships that you build with teammates while you’re there is tough to match … I’ve met so many great people and have so many great connections where people are always trying to look out for me or help me in any way that I can. I think that’s just the biggest thing about going to school in Columbia is that everybody is just looking out for each other and there’s a All Gamecock baseball sense of pride coverage sponsored by there,” Belcher DiPrato’s concluded.
24 • Spurs & Feathers
August 20, 2014
Gamecocks enter year looking to make history on pitch by brian hand firstname.lastname@example.org
The South Carolina women’s soccer team was picked to finish third in the SEC preseason poll behind Florida and Texas A&M. That may seem like high preseason praise, but coming off one of the best seasons in program history last year the Gamecocks expect much more from themselves in the 2014 season. After just missing on an SEC regular-season championship in 2013, two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year and 2014 Hermann Trophy Watch List selection (given to top player in college soccer) Sabrina D’Angelo believes the Gamecocks have everything they need to compete for the SEC title and much more. She is not shy about her belief in her teammates as well. “I definitely say we’re going for that SEC championship and we’re going to make (school) history in the NCAAs,” the senior goalkeeper noted. “The furthest we’ve gone is the Elite Eight and I wasn’t here when they did that and I definitely want to beat that.” South Carolina concluded last year with a record of 17-4-2. The Gamecocks were a perfect 11-0-0 at home and they ended the year with an NCAA Tournament win and a final ranking of 15th. South Carolina 14th year head coach Shelley Smith knows last year’s team was special, but she believes this year’s squad starts this up-
photo by jenny dilworth
coming year with a chance to be elite. “I am really proud of this team,” Smith remarked. “I told the girls that I thought last year was one of the best team’s overall. Everyone in that locker room stayed together and pushed each other. I just think a lot of their success was
credited to their attitudes and how they helped each other and pushed and focused on what they needed to do. “I think this year we have added a smaller freshman class, we return a lot and it’s been easier to mix in the few new players and now
we have more depth than we’ve ever had and I believe that they’re very ready to go and do believe they can win a championship and go even further in the NCAAs, which ultimately we want to get to the NCAA Championship, so that’s something they look at and it’s a reality for this team,” Smith continued. This past summer the team worked extremely hard to be able to enter their preseason preparations fit and ready to work on other facets of the game. “They came in ready to go,” Smith relayed. “They did a lot of work over the summer to be fair so we could start off without worrying about any fitness issues, which is always a big help for us to get things done as we have a short time to prepare for that first game. They’ve been also working on the field with great attitudes, very competitive. They show that they’re a team too. They get along. They love being together and love playing for each other and that’s going to carry us through the season well.” D’Angelo agrees with her head coach. “Everybody’s definitely on the same page,” D’Angelo commented. “Just from where we were in July doing the running workouts everybody was going 100 percent they were working hard and it’s just transitioned on to the field.” After opening at East Carolina on Aug. 22 the Gamecocks return home for five consecutive home games. The first of the five straight home games is at 6 p.m. on Aug. 24 against Samford.
Gamecocks plan to take it one game at a time by brian hand email@example.com
embark on the coming year. “It’s pretty expected that you’re going to have a range and I think that a number of guys did really As he enters his 37th year in charge of the well,” Berson remarked. “I was really pleased South Carolina men’s soccer program Mark Ber- with a number of the performances. Some of the son at the start of preseason preparations for the other ones were not as good, but that’s unfortu2014 season is not ready to make any declarations nate. Those guys are going to be behind a little for his team. bit. Nevertheless he likes what his team brings to “The big thing is most of our returning playthe fold. ers really did a good job on the fitness and really “We’ll take it one game at a time,” Berson showed they were ready to go. We’re in a little bit noted. “We’re going to be improved. We’re defi- of a unique situation in that they’ve got to do it on nitely going to be improved over last year and their own in the summer and we’ve only got 21 last year at the end of the season we were playing practices before we open. It’s hard if they don’t pretty well. To me those are both positive indica- put in the work in the summer. It’s hard to make tors, but it’s a long year.” up the difference, so it’s good that we had a good Berson and all of those within the Gamecock group that got well prepared,” Berson continued. men’s soccer program are overall just excited to Unfortunately the beginning of the preseason get things going. came with the news that for the second straight “It’s just a great time of the year and everyyear someone they considered a key cog in their thing that we work all year long for as players as plans for the year was lost for the season due to coaches comes together in these early moments, injury. Last year it was midfielder Jeffery Adso it’s great to see,” Berson commented. “It’s an dai, while this year just before the start of the exciting time.” preseason practices newcomer Kevin Walker For the most part the current crop of Gamesuffered an injury during voluntary offseason cocks entered their preseason fit and ready to workouts that will keep him sidelined for the
2014 season. According to Berson it is obviously a big blow to their plans, but it is just a part of soccer. “As far as how it affects us on the field? It is going to affect us, but that’s part of it,” Berson said. “You just have to have other guys step up.” The work to improve upon last year’s 7-7-5 record, which included a 4-2-3 mark in Conference USA play, underway, Berson believes his team will be able to progress quickly in their preparations for the season. “I will say we have a lot of pieces in place from last year, so I’m hopeful we’ll be able to move along quickly,” Berson said. “That’s one of the reasons we had three preseason scrimmages and one them coming up pretty quickly. I think we should be able to put some pieces in place pretty quickly because we were very young last year and by the same respect there’s stuff you can’t just lay down in a template right away. “We have to get an assessment of the new players and we have to get how some of the new players affect the entire equation and that takes a little time. I don’t have an objective other than us to get better as we move along. With the progress they showed in the spring we should be able to move
photo by allen sharpe
along pretty well,” Berson continued. South Carolina opens its 2014 regular-season with four straight home games at The Graveyard. The regular-season opener is against Belmont at 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 29. South Carolina faces off against rival Clemson at 7 p.m. on Sept. 2.
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August 20, 2014
Excitement buzzing for Gamecock volleyball by mike kucharski firstname.lastname@example.org
ment. “We talked to them last fall before we even started with the spring that our mantra is ‘inSouth Carolina volleyball head coach Scott vested. How invested are you? What you put Swanson is excited by what he is seeing in in is what you’re going to get out.’ We’ve been preseason even after starting the team with preaching that a lot,” Swanson explained. three-straight two-a-day practices. “We had 10 freshmen last year and they all “The atmosphere has been really good. matured and we had several who went and After six practices in a row, we know they’re played sand, several scholarship indoor kids, really sore and fatigued, but they came out and they came back better volleyball players. and scrimmaged with the most intensity and “Also really I think it’s a maturity level that passion for playing that I’ve seen in the three has changed and we have better leadership years that I’ve been here,” Swanson said. “The that is going to continue to grow and get betlevel was higher than we’ve seen here, so ter. It’s just a better feel in the gym. They we’re definitely moving in the right direction. want to be great and they’re working like it,” “We definitely feel like we’re going to be Swanson added. a different looking team; we’re not going to The Gamecocks’ depth has improved acbe one hitter dominant. We’re going to have cording to Swanson, but he noted “it’s not three, four, maybe five hitters that we can go just having extra bodies, but having quality to at different times, so I like that we’re not bodies in players who actually help the level going to be as predictable or as easy to defend. in the gym.” That depth will be on display on We serve really tough, so we’re going to make Saturday, Aug. 23 at 3 p.m. as fans can come it really hard for that other team to be consis- watch the Garnet & Black scrimmage in the tent with their offense. I’m excited about all of Volleyball Competition Facility. those things,” Swanson continued. He added that the addition of former AllAfter finding some bad luck with injuries American and professional player and curand struggling in the competitive SEC last rent volunteer assistant coach Shonda Cole season, Swanson said the team has improved as helping the competition level. Overall, he since last year with a key being player invest- feels the coaching staff will be able to help the
players reach their potential. “I think our coaching staff as a whole is a real reason why we’re going to be better too. We have the right combination now that we need to get these kids to where they want to go and where we want to take them,” Swanson remarked. “We keep saying in our meetings ‘why not us?’ … I’m not talking about winning the SEC, but giving ourselves the chance to win every time that we step on the court. I truly believe that we should have a winning season unless we get some more bad luck.” Swanson is looking forward to this season and the future of the program with the talented newcomers and more talent coming next year as well. He said there are some Division I-caliber players who should walk on to the team next year and the staff is having success recruiting as well. With the future looking bright, Swanson noted that it is important to focus on the day-to-day work to continue building that foundation. “As a staff we talk about what things look like and how we set our expectations given what we have, so we don’t want to look too far ahead. We’re totally focused on what we’re doing tomorrow in practice and how we’re getting them ready for the first match, but in the back of my mind it is exciting to know that
south carolina athletics media relations
Redshirt junior setter Kellie McNeil in action. we have the kids in the pipeline to become great. They’re going to make South Carolina volleyball relevant again,” Swanson said.
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August 20, 2014
Cross country racing forward in 2014 By Mike Kucharski email@example.com
Top-to-bottom this should be one of the best classes to come into the program,” Allden said of the newcomers. The Gamecock cross country team is return“On paper very simply we return five of the ing a number of runners from last season and top-seven and if we are lucky we can get six of hopes to continue building the program in seven if Lampe gets near full strength. We’ve 2014. got a good freshman class so one would hope Coach Andrew Allden said that five of last that we can move up in the standings on the season’s top-seven runners return and are basis of that,” Allden expounded. looking for a strong year. The returners are led Allden explained that the schedule is set up by Mary Reiser who was an SEC All-Freshfor the team to work their way into some of man Team member least year. Reiser also had the bigger races later on the docket. He noted a strong track season that included running that they will hope to train through September the third-fastest time in program history in the to get the runners ready for the first big race 10K at the SEC Championships despite losing of the year on Sept. 26 at the Charlotte Invitaa shoe four laps into the race. tional. South Carolina hosts races on Aug. 30 Allden said other returners Anna Todd, and Sept. 13 both at 9 a.m. to open the season Stephanie Berger, Christine Kent and Marbefore the race in Charlotte. tha McCoy all had strong cross country and “We’ll be hitting them pretty hard training track seasons building “good, solid group of and strength-wise for the next month and a returning runners.” The one question mark is half with the idea that what we do in Septemjunior Kayla Lampe - a previous All-Southber will be whatever we do,” Allden comeast Region cross country performer - who mented. “Hopefully that will lead to bigger is attempting to return from injury this fall and better things in September and October. and hopefully will be back in action by midThat’s what bigger programs do and if we’re season. going to get anywhere close to running with “Also we have a big freshman class with them, we’ve got to operate in the same model. 13 coming in, which is almost half the roster. “We’re going to race hard in September, as
hard as we can, and then try to really come out of the box when we go to Charlotte to get a feel for where we are, then move forward from there. Ideally the season gets progressively more competitive as we go on,” Allden continued. Overall Allden likes the program’s direction this year and going forward because of the youth on the team. “We don’t even lose a lot next year so some of it is keep trying to get people experience and move the program forward, the whole team forward in a collective sense,” Allden explained. “Certainly the sport of cross country is about individual runners, but also about the collective team score. We’ve got a couple of women who are on the cusp of being a frontrunner, superstar person, but you can’t do it all with the world’s greatest top-five. “I think the SEC is as challenging as it always is … I think the conference is going to be every bit as competitive for us as it has been in recent years, so it’ll be a challenge for us. We’re going to work more toward getting more runners into the top-20 or 25 and top-50. That’s what we’ve got to do to move up … we’ve got to get a few more bodies cracking into the top-50 and try to maintain that two or
south carolina athletics media relations
Lampe hopes to return by mid-season.
three in the top-20 to 30 to make a big jump,” Allden expounded. After posting the ninth-best team GPA in the country last year at 3.70, Allden also recognized the importance of the runners being true student-athletes. “As always academics are a big part of what we do and we’ll certainly continue to be every bit as aggressive on that front, but we’ll also be trying to run as fast as we can for five or six kilometers as we can along the way,” Allden concluded.
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August 20, 2014
had a magnet in his mitt. The roar rumbling up from the TD Ameritrade Park crowd, gathering force like a wave, aware of what might be happening. And finally, Christian Walker snapping Beary’s throw into his glove at first, completing the inning-ending 4-2-3 double play. The Gamecocks sprinted off the field, no runs allowed. It turns out you can cheat death twice.
South Carolina.............1 Florida...........................1 Odds: Off the board
As broadcasters, we always have a running conversation in our head while calling a game. How should I describe that? Should I mention that on-air? What do I make of this? We’re constantly processing the action, sorting through dozens of stats and details at a time, before deciding what to say (and more importantly, how to say it). So when Florida’s Mike Zunino smacked a single to left with two outs in the 10th inning, the game-winning run at second base, a thought flashed across my mind as I was describing the play on-air: I think he hit that too hard. That year, our broadcast booth at TD Ameritrade Park was off-center from home plate (we had the option of moving closer for the champiBottom 9th onship series, but we had used that booth for our South Carolina.............1 entire trip, so why risk it?). While it messed with Florida...........................1 our depth perception, it also gave us an impeccaOdds: 3.2% ble sightline into left field. Tommy and I watched as junior Jake Williams scooped up the ball and Well, we cheated death once, I thought. The pegged it toward home. We had a perfect view of odds are bound to catch up to us. its speed and trajectory as it bore down on Florida After tying the game 1-1 in the eighth, Florida baserunner Cody Dent. The ball – and Dent – seemed poised to walk off the Gamecocks in both looked like they were coming straight at the ninth. A single and a walk put runners at the us. And of course, we watched as Robert Beary corners with nobody out. South Carolina reliever caught the ball off a bounce and mashed the John Taylor intentionally walked second basetag on Dent, who tried in vain to arch his back man Josh Adams to set up a force at any base. around him. It duplicated the scenario that Carolina faced Out at the plate. Play on. in its last game, when Virginia loaded the bases Even though he made 24 starts in left field, Wilwith no outs in a tie game in the 13th. Matt Price, liams didn’t have a single outfield assist all year. the Gamecocks’ cold-blooded closer, struck out If he made that throw 100 times, how many times the first Cavalier, then induced a 4-6 double play would he have gotten Dent out? Impossible to to come away unscathed. South Carolina won in say. But considering the stakes, it was a heck of a the bottom of the 13th. way for him to earn his first. After the game, I found a website that anaAnd a heck of a way to affirm that thought in lyzed every baserunner/out scenario from Major my head. League Baseball games over the last 60 years. In Top 8th the majors, the odds of a team scoring with bases Top 11th South Carolina.............0 South Carolina.............2 loaded and no outs was 82%. Florida...........................1 Florida...........................1 That number danced in my head as Florida’s Odds: 2.6% Odds: 1 in 458 Tyler Thompson stepped to the plate, a Gator tapping every base. The Gamecocks had already Florida pitcher Hudson Randall had flummoxed pulled off one bases-loaded, no-out escape in It was the ultimate swerve by Ray Tanner. His the Gamecocks all night. What else was new. Omaha. What were the odds of doing it back-to- first baseman, Christian Walker, had just singled Back in March, the Gator right-hander tossed a back? with one out and nobody on in the top of the 11th complete game against Carolina, retiring the last – a remarkable feat in itself, considering Walker Approximately 3.2%. 19 batters in a 2-1 victory. With a sinking, lowhad broken the hamate bone in his left wrist two Gamecock fans all remember what happened 90’s fastball that felt like hitting a bowling ball, days prior. The unofficial lineup, distributed to next. Wingo’s perfectly-timed diving stop of Randall rarely flirted with the barrel of a bat. He Thompson’s ground ball. Beary’s exquisite back- the press box an hour before game time, didn’t didn’t get outs so much as batters got themselves hand pick of the throw home. The next Florida include him among the starters. out. As he entered the top of the eighth, the GaNow Tanner called for something even more batter hitting a grounder to Wingo as if Wingo I’m often asked about the most memorable game I’ve called for the Gamecocks. It feels like sacrilege not to answer with June 29, 2010: the night South Carolina clinched its first College World Series title over UCLA. It was the game that forever changed the history of South Carolina athletics, the requiem for a curse and the realization of a dream. And yet, I can’t. Sorry, Whit. No game is seared into my memory more than South Carolina’s first game against Florida in the 2011 CWS Championship Series. The Gamecocks beat the Andy Demetra Gators 2-1 in 11 inContributing nings, moving them Writer within one game of a second straight national title. It was their third one-run win at the College World Series. Fans will always remember the heart-pounding drama of those final innings in Omaha. The moments are frozen in time, from Wingo’s dive to Williams’ throw to Walker’s steal. They also know that USC defied the odds, and made several high-wire escapes in the late innings to win. But few realize just how outlandish some of those odds really were. Thumbing through my notes, I still shake my head at them. Here’s a look back at a game I’ll always remember as a broadcaster -- a game that redefined how to defy the odds:
tors leading 1-0, Randall had only allowed 11 walks to 423 batters – a ratio of 2.6%. That made it all the more surprising when shortstop Peter Mooney grinded out a walk to begin the inning. Mooney advanced to second on a Robert Beary sacrifice bunt, then to third on an Evan Marzilli flyout. After two swings and misses, Scott Wingo delivered the game-tying hit up the middle, the ball barely missing Randall’s throwing hand, which he had stabbed reflexively at the ground. Randall’s streak of 14 consecutive scoreless innings against the Gamecocks had come to a sudden, unceremonious end. And it all started on a walk - something Randall did to 2.6% of batters he faced.
daring: a hit-and-run with Walker and batter Adam Matthews. Walker’s speed – he only had three stolen bases – wasn’t the only risk. If Matthews failed to protect him, Walker had to outrun Zunino, a cannon-armed catcher who later won the Johnny Bench Award as the nation’s best backstop. The art of surprise had benefitted Tanner once before. The previous year, in the 11th inning of their World Series-clinching win over UCLA, Tanner signaled for a fake-bunt-and-hit with leadoff man Scott Wingo, who had just worked the count full. Tanner admitted afterwards that it wasn’t because he thought Wingo could get a hit; it was mainly designed to throw off the concentration of UCLA’s pitcher, who had been nearly unhittable. Sure enough, surprised by Wingo’s bunt, he missed low. Now, in another tense moment in Omaha, Tanner dialed up the surprise again. Walker took off on the first pitch from new Florida reliever Greg Larson. Matthews swung and missed. Zunino, caught off-guard by the stolen base attempt, airmailed his throw into centerfield. Walker scrambled to his feet and broke for third. Centerfielder Tyler Thompson tried gunning him down, but his throw skipped in front of third baseman Cody Dent and ricocheted into the seats. Walker trotted home, putting the Gamecocks ahead 2-1. In one chaotic, 16-second sequence, the Gamecocks had taken their first lead of the game. But the whole chain of events was started by an unlikely throwing error from the All-American Zunino. I didn’t even need to glance at my notes before mentioning it in our broadcast. The number was so laughable when I found it in my research, it was impossible to forget. Entering the championship series, Mike Zunino had committed 1 error in 458 chances. Compared to the innings that came before it, the bottom of the 11th was relatively pedestrian. Price allowed a leadoff single and a sacrifice bunt before working a strikeout and a groundout to end the game. South Carolina won 2-1, tying an NCAA record with its 15th consecutive NCAA Tournament win. Tommy and I left the booth feeling drained, like we had both just played. Four years later, the awe from that night still hasn’t worn off. South Carolina wasn’t supposed to win (in one last, absurd footnote, Florida had a 45-0 record when leading after seven innings). Teams aren’t supposed to make so many Houdini-like escapes - let alone an escape in four consecutive innings. And yet, that night explained so much about the 2011 Gamecocks. They never got rattled. They refused to lose. When the jams were the tightest, the pressure the thickest, South Carolina still believed, against all logic and order, that it could prevail. No records were broken that night. The Gamecocks didn’t win a national title. But for all the head-shaking odds they had to overcome in Game 1 of the 2011 College World Series, it’s a game I know I’ll likely never see again. I’d almost say you could bet on it. Knowing the Gamecocks, that wouldn’t be smart.
28 • Spurs & Feathers
August 20, 2014
photo by allen sharpe
Steve Spurrier talks with Glenn Snyder prior to a Gamecock football scrimmage at Williams-Brice Stadium. Snyder’s column will appear in Spurs & Feathers all football season.
Inside Look returns to Spurs & Feathers by glenn snyder Contributing Writer
remarkable accomplishment that was. Their streak began in 1953. The Sooners went undefeated in ‘54, lost a group of outstanding In the immortal words of Arnold Schwarseniors, won every game and the National zenegger – “I’m baaaack.” After a year’s ab- Championship in, ‘55, lost another group, sence, the new management of Spurs has gra- including several first-round draft picks, went ciously invited me back to write this column, undefeated again in ’56, before their streak and to work on a special project with Coach ended in ‘57. What struck me about the Steve Spurrier (more about that later). streak, is that in every one of those seasons, I am very excited to have this opportunity a lot of players, who were not just talented to continue writing about South Carolina’s enough to be starters, but big-time stars at a football program, because I am absolutely lot of other top schools, had to wait their turn. convinced the Gamecocks will have another The key to Oklahoma’s success was simple outstanding season, possibly the best in – those boys could play and there were school history. Rather than make any preplenty of them. I have always contended that dictions or explain the particulars of why I you can analyze the X’s and O’s, evaluate believe USC’s winning ways will continue, the coaching staffs, factor in the lucky or I want to offer my perspective of how the unlucky bounces of the ball, but in the end, program has evolved under the Head Ball talent wins games, and teams without a lot of Coach. good players struggle to win. I fell in love with college football as a teenThe reason South Carolina has the potential ager in the mid ‘60’s. Every year ABC would for its fourth 11-win season (or better) in a televise the Texas-Oklahoma game with the row is simple as well – it has and continues to Texas State Fair as the backdrop. Invariably, be a team loaded with talented players, kids at some point during the broadcast, the anbrimming with character, who know what it nouncers would reflect on the remarkable takes to win. Behind a recruiting effort that career of Coach Bud Wilkinson, whose Okla- has improved exponentially as the victories homa teams won 13 Big Eight Conference have mounted, Coach Spurrier and his staff championships and had a 47-game winning have assembled a great bunch of kids who streak. can really play, who are coachable, and who Several years later, I realized just what a are always working hard to play better.
Just like those great Oklahoma teams, the Gamecocks won’t have Shaw, Jadeveon Clowney, Kelcy Quarles, Victor Hampton or Chaz Sutton, but there is no sense of panic and apparently the pollsters and sportswriters don’t believe those losses will affect Carolina’s ability to win the East Division title and advance to the SEC Championship game. It all goes back to recruiting which feeds off of winning. I have told this story, but I was in Rick Stockstill’s office shortly after the 2004 Signing Day, and I asked him why, despite the reputation of Lou Holtz, it was such a lackluster class? He had a chalk board on his wall and he wrote 5-7, 5-7 (USC’s record in 2002-03). “I don’t care if you are a living legend,” he said, “recruiting is about showing you can win.” Add to success, a tremendous family atmosphere, an incredible fan base, a great city, equal footing in the facilities war, and a school whose stature continues to grow by leaps and bounds, and you have the house the HBC has built. In Coach Spurrier’s words, it’s time for the “talking season” to be over, and to let the games begin. The Gamecocks are talented, have depth, are dedicated and well coached, all the ingredients to be a special team. Let’s go play. Getting back to players who have had to
wait, there are several examples on USC’s 2014 roster, but none better than Dylan Thompson. If I were a college quarterback, who led his team to a victory over Clemson in Death Valley on my resume, I could die a happy man, but there was no argument from Dylan about having to spend most of his time watching as Conner Shaw become the winningest QB in school history. He’s a fifth-year senior, and a proven winner (3-0 as a starter). It’s his time to shine, and I’m confident he will. A teammate told me that Dylan was the first one in and the last one out of the off-season workout sessions, and that his work ethic has taken the confidence, trust and respect everyone already had for him to another level. Next week I will take a more position-specific look at this year’s Gamecocks. Now for the project with Coach Spurrier. Beginning next week Brian Hand and I will do a video interview with him each Tuesday. We will ask him about anything and everything, except his football team. The interview will be available free on our website, SpursandFeathers.com. If you have a question for the coach, send us an e-mail, Facebook post or tweet us at @SpursFeathers. Again, let me say how pleased I am to be able to share my thoughts with you. It’s a great time to be a Gamecock!
Spurs & Feathers • 29
August 20, 2014
Youngest Junior Gamecock Club member in the Triangle by mike kucharski firstname.lastname@example.org
lina,” Turner expounded. Turner said that he and his wife, Jenni, felt it was significant that their son know Triangle Gamecock Club chapter presithat South Carolina is important to the dent Justin Turner’s son holds a unique family. He added that it is nice to be able distinction: the youngest member of the to have a point of pride being the youngJunior Gamecock Club. est Gamecock Club member on record and “When my wife was pregnant - my they are proud to boast about a new, small wife went to South Carolina too and we member of Gamecock Nation. moved up to Raleigh, N.C. and really The Triangle Gamecock Club is an outstarted the Triangle Gamecock Club here of-state chapter that has the advantage of in Raleigh - but when she was pregnant being able to drive to Columbia, S.C. in a we kind of wanted to do something speday, something not many others can boast cial,” Turner described. “My goal was to while it is also one of the fastest growing have the youngest-ever member of the cities in the nation from many standpoints. Junior Gamecock Club. It’s something Turner said that this fact means that there that he would always be able to say. ‘I was are many Gamecocks in Raleigh who are the youngest-ever member of the Junior season-ticket holders. Gamecock Club.’ So I coordinated it a lit“Every year more and more South Carotle bit with the Gamecock Club office and I lina alumni and fans move up to the Trithink it was about 42 minutes after he was angle and we’re seeing a lot of new faces born that we had that taken care of and he every time we do an event. I think at last became a Gamecock Club member. count there were 3,000-plus living alumni “It’s important because we’re here in in the Raleigh. Of course with the GameRaleigh and there’s a lot of Wolfpack fans, cock Club it’s not just alumni - it’s fans, Tar Heel fans and Blue Devil fans. I want it’s parents, it’s Junior Gamecock Club him to always know what his roots are members - so every time we do something even if we stay in Raleigh for a long time. which is once or twice a month, we’re seeI want him to know that he’s a Gamecock ing new faces and people who just moved even though he’s not from South Caroto the area, so it’s going really well,”
Turner said. Turner said that he enjoys packing a restaurant in the Triangle for the football viewing parties, which he said ironically is just a few miles from the campus of North Carolina State and the name of the restaurant is Tobacco Road. He said that he gets a kick out of seeing all the Gamecock support in an area where it is unexpected. The Gamecock pride is evident every time Turner speaks about his alma mater and in how early his son joined the Junior Gamecock Club as well. Turner said that he was unsure of when his son’s first trip to a South Carolina football game would be, but they are considering waiting until he is older and making a memorable day out of it. “We’ll see how that goes down. I don’t know if I can wait a few years to take my first-born son to a Gamecock game, but we’re going to see. Things have a way of changing when you have kids so sometimes it’s hard to stick to any plans,” Turner said. “I think the Junior Gamecock Club is important. I think it’s important for us as out-ofstate parents to bring that piece of home to our son at a very early age, but I think whether you live in-state, out-of-state,
wherever you are, just being proud of what you are and who you are as a Gamecock is important. Making sure that your children appreciate that culture and that lifestyle of a Gamecock from an early age is important too, so we’re really happy about it,” Turner concluded. To learn more about the Triangle Gamecock Club, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter at @TriangleGCC.
30 • Spurs & Feathers
August 20, 2014
Upcoming Events: Gamecock Club Kershaw County 2014 Kickoff Party When: Tuesday, Aug. 19; 6:30 p.m. Where: Old South Restaurant & Catery, 509 Dicey Ford Rd., Camden, S.C. All Gamecock fans welcome. Featured speaker: Tony Morrell and tentatively a Gamecock baseball staff member. Four pre-game field passes will be auctioned off and other Gamecock raffle prizes given away. Tickets available $10 in advance/$15 at the door. Available at Old South Restaurant & Catery, BSL Sandwich Shop, Camden Military Academy administration building. Call Casey Robinson for more information: 803-669-0273. Augusta Gamecock Club Football Kickoff When: Wednesday, Aug. 20; 5:30 p.m. Where: Logans Roadhouse on Robert C. Daniel Pkwy. Guest speaker is Tony Morrell with free admission and raffle prizes. Meal starts at 5:30 (on your own) and Tony will speak at 6:45. Florence County Fall Kickoff Luncheon When: Thursday, Aug. 21; 5:30 p.m. Where: Dr. Eddie Floyd Conference Center at Carolina’s Hospital System The Florence County Gamecock Club will hold their Fall Kickoff Luncheon with Tony Morrell on Thursday, August 21 starting at 12:00 p.m. The cost is $20 per person which includes lunch from Roger’s BBQ House. Tony will provide an outlook on the football team and the 2014 season. Payments by check or cash only will be taken at the door. Darlington County Kick-Off Party When: Monday, August 25; 6 p.m. Where: Lakeview Club (401 Springwood Drive, Hartsville, S.C.) Gamecock football update from Spurs & Feathers, Guest Speaker: Ryan Brewer and Cocky & Carolina Cheerleaders Free Admission! Door Prizes - Food Drinks All Gamecock Fans are invited to attend! Free admission. Aiken Gamecock Club Kickoff Party When: Monday, August 25; 6 p.m.
Where: Aiken County Shrine Club (Highway 1 North, Aiken, S.C.) Come and help us kick off the football season. Fun for the whole family and all Gamecock fans are invited to attend. Cocky, the USC cheerleaders and Franko the Magician will be there along with raffle prizes. NYC Gamecocks Game Watching Party When: Every time the Gamecocks play football this season Where: The NYC Gamecock Club home, The Mason Jar, at the intersection of 30th St. and Park Ave. Come out and enjoy Gamecock Football with the best NYC Gamecock fans you will ever meet. Enjoy drink specials, giveaway items, cool raffle items, great food and dozens of TV’s with only Gamecock Football! Wear your game day gear, take a photo with our inflatable Cocky mascot and be proud to be a Gamecock in NYC! If you are not at Williams-Brice, you want to be here! Colleton County Happy Hour When: Tuesday, Aug. 26; 5 p.m. Where: Fat Jacks Grillin’ & Chillin’, 309 Ivanhoe Rd., Walterboro, S.C. Welcome all Gamecocks for Happy Hour! Bring the kids! RSVP to Lori 843-909-1919 or laribellbeard@gmail. com 21st Annual Border Bash When: Friday, September 12, 2014; 4 p.m. Where: Augusta Common Tickets are $10 Advance/$15 at Gate – Kids 12 & Under are free. Available Friday, July 25 at BorderBash.net. Performances by: Kristian Bush of Sugarland and the Joe Stevenson Band. As always the University of South Carolina and University of Georgia cheerleaders as well as mascots Hairy Dawg and Cocky will be on hand throughout the evening performing and taking pictures with fans. All of this plus great vendors, food, drinks and fun games make Border Bash the place to be with your family and friends on Friday, September 12. Nashville Gamecock Club Vanderbilt Weekend When: Sept. 19-20 Friday, Sept. 19 from 7 p.m.-11 p.m.:
Vandy Game Pre-Party at Tin Roof Demonbreun with Musical Guest Ricky Young. Local South Carolina Alum and die-hard Gamecock Ricky Young will be headlining. They have a lot of drink and food specials set up as well, including $5 quesadillas and burgers, $2 all draft beers, and a special $6 Gamecock shot! Please feel free to stop by, where you will be given a wrist band so that you can enjoy the specials and the evening.
In Memoriam James Seawright Former All-American linebacker James Seawright, a member of the University of South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, passed away recently. Seawright earned Associated Press and Football Writers All-America first-team honors and was a second-team selection by United Press International and Football News in 1984. He recorded 384 career tackles, fourth on the school’s all-time list, including a school-record 29 stops against North Carolina State in 1984. He was a leader on the 10-2 “Fire Ants” defense and “Black Magic” team of 1984. He was selected by the Lettermen’s Association into the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003. Seawright attended Hillcrest High School from 1977-1981, before beginning his college career. He was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the 11th round of the 1985 NFL Draft, an event marked with a day of honor by the City of Simpsonville. Seawright lost his battle with cancer on July 18.
Saturday, Sept. 20, All Day: Vandy Game Tailgate at Jed’s off West End. They will have music, tents, and all sorts of other events set up in the lawn outside. You ARE allowed to bring your cooler to this event, but you cannot take alcohol that you bring outside the fenced in area or inside Jed’s. You are also allowed to purchase drinks from Jed’s, but you cannot take them outside to the tailgate area. Linda Bradley Wilkins Mrs. Wilkins was born in Columbia. She was the youngest daughter of Doris Parks Bradley and Ralph Caldwell Bradley. She grew up in Olympia and Shandon and was a proud graduate of Dreher High School and the University of South Carolina and was a member of the marching band at both schools. Linda was a secretary to former governor Robert E. McNair and former U.S. Senator “Fritz” Hollings and was a long-time secretary for the sales department at WIS-TV. Mrs. Wilkins was a member of the Columbia Sailing Club Ladies Auxiliary and was the recipient of the club’s 1990 Outstanding Service Award. Her grandchildren were her pride and joy and she whole-heartedly supported them in all of their endeavors. She was a loving aunt to many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews and had an innate ability to make and keep good friends and make people feel special. Mrs. Wilkins was also a longtime supporter of South Carolina Athletics and a member of the Gamecock Club.
Another new member of Gamecock Nation!!
National Capital Regional Gamecock Club president Neil Baumgardner and his wife welcomed a new addition to Gamecock Nation this summer. Baumgardner said that he has already started propping up his son to watch Gamecock coverage, adding “we’re raising him with South Carolina pride and we’ll have all three of us down for a game at the soonest opportunity we can for the experience.” (Submitted photo)
Spurs & Feathers • 31
August 20, 2014
What a time to be a Gamecock
My how times have changed. As many of us would attest to this has always been the best time of year. Football is around the corner and hope springs eternal. The days are hot and there are so many stories to read in preparation of the upcoming season. Looking for the positives, ignoring the negatives. Yes sir, we are undefeated and there’s a chance that we will win them all. As Aiken Gamecock Club chapter President Chris Fulmer and I would tell each other every year, “8-0 going into the Tennessee game, baby!” Ed Girardeau Well all of that Contributing hasn’t changed. Editor Even the most pessimistic of the Gamecock fans have great expectations these days: 11-2 three years in row, finishing fourth in the nation, having the longest winning streak in the nation at home and five wins over Clemson in a row will do that to you.
It was not that long ago that we would have to talk ourselves into believing that this was the year. I suppose we can blame that on 1984. For those too young to remember or perhaps you have forgotten, that year was like just about any other year. The preceding football season we finished 5-6 with a loss at home to Clemson (in all black uniforms no less. The story is that Joe Morrison had them burned after the game. Not sure of the truth of that.). Things started exciting enough. The Citadel came to town and really should have won the game. Only a trick play touchdown and a game-saving tackle on the ensuing kickoff saved us in that one, a 31-24 win. Duke was next and a less than impressive win at home, 21-0, led us into the big game against Georgia. The Bulldogs came in ranked 12th in the country and no one gave us much of chance, but we came out with a 17-10 win and Mike Hold had a coming out party with a 62-yard pass to Ira Hillary for a touchdown. Things just started falling into place. And the best part about it, nobody expected it. Sure we had hoped, but this
was crazy. A come-from-behind win at Notre Dame, a come-from-behind win in Raleigh over N.C. State, and a win against 11th-ranked Florida State at home and the Gamecocks were 9-0. A feat that had never been accomplished before and despite the success of the past years, hasn’t been accomplished again. At least not yet. Could this be the season? Of course it could be. What’s different? Having been to practices and seeing one scrimmage, honestly, I can’t say that the play is any more spectacular than what I’ve seen before. This time of year, everybody is feeling their way around and the new players are being given a chance, so you can’t really tell. One big difference Coach Spurrier pointed out on Media Day. We have a lot more players who are really big and look really good compared to 10 years ago (much less 30 years ago), but there’s something else. When talking to the players, when talking to the coaches, just hanging around listening to everybody on the team talk. There is a confidence that has never been there before. Sure people talked about how good we
were. The coaches and players said they thought they were good. But did they believe it? Everybody says they expect to be good, but it’s a lot different putting it together on the field. The success on the field of the last four years, the recruits who have joined the team, and the great players who left their legacy have created an atmosphere like no other before. You can feel it. It’s not cocky. They are not saying how good we are going to be and they are certainly not saying we’ll be 8-0 going into the Tennessee game. As the HBC said at the Columbia Touchdown Club on Wednesday, “we’ll take them one at a time.” Sure its cliché, but its true. No need to worry about Georgia, or Auburn on the road, much less any in between or after. In ’84 we took them one at a time because we really did not know what to expect. And every weekend was a huge celebration. Here’s hoping for huge celebration following the Texas A&M game with 14 more after that. Just don’t get ahead of ourselves. Let’s enjoy each and every one. What a time to be a Gamecock!
32 â€˘ Spurs & Feathers
August 20, 2014