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February 11, 2015 • Volume 37 • Issue 2 • $1.50

Spurrier: ‘We’ve got a lot of good players here’ Full Signing Day coverage

2 • Spurs & Feathers

Spurs & Feathers

February 11, 2015

What’s Inside? - Table of Contents

Published by Aiken Communications, Inc.

Contact Us: 301 Greystone Blvd. Columbia, SC 29210 (803) 335-1399 To subscribe: Please call 800-559-2311; annual subscription price is $50 Ellen Priest Publisher Aiken Communications, Inc. Tim O’Briant General Manager (803) 335-1400 Ext. 500 Brian Hand Executive Editor (803) 335-1399 Ext. 506 Ed Girardeau Contributing Editor/ Advertising Account Executive (803) 646-9807 Dee Taylor Advertising Director (803) 644-2371 Kathy Boyette Advertising Sales Manager (803) 295-3654 Brooks Rogers Advertising Representative (803) 446-4022 Reporters Kyle Heck and Collyn Taylor Photographers Allen Sharpe and Jenny Dilworth Mary Watson Graphic Designer Cover Design: Brian Hand (photo by Allen Sharpe) Postal Information: SPURS & FEATHERS (USPS 12779) (ISSN 7454368X) is published 20 times annually. The frequency is monthly from December to February, bi-weekly in March, monthly in April, bi-weekly in May, monthly in June and bi-weekly from August-December . SPURS & FEATHERS also publishes three slick-paper magazine issues — one in April, one in June and one in August. The annual subscription price is $50 for non Gamecock Club members. Members of the Gamecock Club receive a discounted subscription as a member benefit. Spurs & Feathers is published by Aiken Communications, Inc., 326 Rutland Drive NW, Aiken, SC, 29801-4010. Periodicals postage paid at Columbia, SC Postmaster: Send changes to SPURS & FEATHERS, PO Box 456, Aiken, SC, 29802.

photo by allen sharpe

The University of South Carolina athletic department held a special luncheon on Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, to honor those that helped make the 2014 Gamecock football season possible. South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner and Gamecock head football coach Steve Spurrier both spoke at the event at 701 Whaley to thank all the workers and volunteers for their efforts. Tanner along with other South Carolina athletic administrators also helped to serve the catered Big T’s Bar-B-Q lunch to all those in attendance.

Spurrier: “We’ve got a lot of good players here”................................... 3 Signing day over, Gamecocks looking forward to spring................. 3 Signing Day South Carolina celebrates football and donors.......... 4 Inside Look with Glenn Snyder................................................................... 5 Langston Moore column.............................................................................. 6 Heise: “We’re a Gamecock family”.............................................................. 7 Bill Gunter column.......................................................................................... 8 Holbrook: “I’m excited about our team”.................................................. 9 South Carolina football signing day................................................10-14 South Carolina women’s soccer signing day.......................................14 South Carolina men’s soccer signing day.............................................15 Recruiting Roundup.....................................................................................16 South Carolina to host 6K race.................................................................16 Leadoff Dinner a huge success.................................................................17 Wheat humbled to be able to give back...............................................18 Compliance Corner.......................................................................................19 Upcoming Gamecock Club events.........................................................20 Sheriff Dawn Staley.......................................................................................21 Degree completion offers student-athletes second chance.........22 It takes time, patience and support to build a winner.....................23 Baseball features............................................................................................24 Burnett staying true to roots while climbing LPGA ladder............25 Baseball features............................................................................................26 Gamecock greats happy to help at Leadoff Dinner..........................27 Waddell a trailblazer in college athletics..............................................28 Passion for Gamecocks evident in Lexington.....................................29 Inside the Chart..............................................................................................30 Unique views by Ed Girardeau.................................................................31

Spurrier era Gamecock football reunion at the spring game All former South Carolina football studentathletes who played for head coach Steve Spurrier over the past 10 seasons are invited back to Gamecock Country for a reunion at the 2015 Garnet & Black Spring Game on April 11, 2015. The reunion will include a dinner reception the evening before the game, Friday, April 10, for each player and a guest, a commemorative coin for each player, and the annual spring game Saturday. The athletics department development office is collecting contact information for attendees. If you are a former football student-athlete from the 2005 season to the present, please email or call Nate Hammett at or 864-965-8545, or Clyde Wrenn at 803-7775943 or 803-605-2204, to provide your contact information and receive future details on the reunion event. Please spread the word to former teammates as well so they can update their information.

Spurs & Feathers • 3

February 11, 2015

Spurrier: ‘We’ve got a lot of good players here’ by kyle heck Reporter

these defensive linemen,” South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said. “Everybody knows that we had trouble rushing the passer last What do you do when you finish last in your year. We obviously needed some help defenconference in creating pressure on a quartersively and we believe we have done that.” back? You do exactly what South Carolina While there was some negativity surrounddid in this year’s recruiting class - bring in as ing this recruiting class because of several many pass rushers as you can. players that decommitted over the last couple The Gamecocks wrapped up another topof months, Spurrier and his staff were still 20 recruiting class on National Signing Day able to get everyone they felt like they wanted with a 31-member group that includes five and needed. Recruiting coordinator and wide defensive ends and two defensive tackles. That receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. also said includes the top junior college player in the that number was skewed because of the high country in 6-foot-3, 265-pound end Marquanumber of players the Gamecocks had comvius Lewis and one of the best players in the mitted. state of South Carolina in 6-foot-5, 240-pound To make up for those players that backed end Shameik Blackshear. off, South Carolina went out and snagged The class also includes a walk-on in punter two offensive linemen and a defensive back Sean Kelly, who played two years at Florida late in the recruiting process. Trey Derouen Atlantic before not playing football in 2014 is a 325-pound guard from Georgia who while attending Tallahassee Junior College. switched his pledge from Mississippi State to All-in-all, it is a balanced class with 14 offen- the Gamecocks while Cory Helms is a transsive players and 16 defensive players. fer from Wake Forest who was named to the “This is a good bunch of guys, especially Freshman All-American team as a center in

ing day. “We started with a few more guys, but we lost a few along the way, as a lot of schools did,” Spurrier said. “These kids change their minds all the time now. But we’ve got a lot of good players here.” Spurrier credits his assistant coaches for working hard and travelling all over the country to fill out another solid recruiting class. “Our coaches did an excellent job of hustling around,” Spurrier said. “All of our assistant coaches are good recruiters and bust their tail and I think the reason we’ve got so many good, solid players here is because our assistant coaches did a super job.” Spurrier Jr. said that he expects every player photo by allen sharpe to be academically eligible to join the Gamehis first season with the Demon Deacons. cocks this spring. Last year, several players Rashad Fenton is the defensive back and is failed to qualify. from Miami, Fla. Spurrier said he is the only “Last year going into that class, we knew player in the class that he did not visit at home, several of those would not qualify,” Spurrier but said he was impressed by his highlight Jr. said. “We think this is a much, much more tape. Fenton was the latest addition to the solid class and we expect all 31 of these guys class, committing to the Gamecocks on sign- to be here.”

by collyn taylor Reporter

guys are going to play if not more,” Spurrier Jr. said. “It’s nice to have two of those guys here early and the three guys from last year. So we’ll have five guys that we’ll spend coaching up and getting them ready to play. They’ll be ready. They’re a good, sharp, hard working group.” Another position with depth and competition is at running back. After an early departure from Mike Davis, the Gamecocks now have three veterans that could start and two signees that can vie for playing time. The two commitments — Mon Denson and A.J. Turner — are day-and-night in playing style. Denson, who is 5-foot-10 and 225 pounds, is a between-the-tackles runner that rushed for 1,300 yards his senior season. Turner, a speedy, open-field runner, chose South Carolina over Alabama and Auburn. He is a player that the coaches like just as much as Denson. “He’s a thick running back, I guess that’s the way to describe him,” Spurrier said. “He’s fast also. He’s a good inside runner and he gained a lot of yards. We’ll let him earn his way. Brandon Wilds, David Williams and Shon Carson are all back and A.J Turner is a fast kid that we really like.” With only a little over a month left until spring ball starts back up and the weather slowly warming up, the competition will be doing the same thing. With most of the skill positions having newcomers that could play immediately, it will make for a healthy competition come practice time.

Signing day over, Gamecocks looking forward to spring

Spurrier said that’s good because then the team can start playing the way they were when they were ranked in the top-10. Spurrier said that while his recruiting class is ranked in the top-20, the team didn’t so things were going to have to change. That starts March 17 when the Gamecocks take the field for spring practice. “I think it’s important we learn how to play football more like we used to around here as full speed, passion, intensity, blocking and tackling. We’ve got to go at each other more than in the past,” Spurrier said. “We have to practice faster and more physical.”

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Nunez signing, saying that he fits the new college football trend of running quarterbacks. Although Nunez won’t be enrolling Competition breeds greatness. And after yet, he will be able to watch practices until signing day and into spring practice, the he gets to battle it out for a starting spot in Gamecock football team hopes that saying the summer. holds true. “We got three quarterbacks here,” SpurAfter a signing day that saw 32 playrier said. “Lorenzo Nunez will come over ers sign on the dotted line to go to South and watch a bunch of practices on the Carolina, they now have a rotation of skill weekends, but the three guys that are here players coming in on the offensive side of now will battle it out and we’ll see which the ball. one’s the best and in preseason we’ll keep And, with many of the starting spots up battling it out ‘til the first game.” in the air on offense, it will be a newcomerWhile the starting quarterback is still in versus-veteran competition to see who will the air heading into spring ball, who will be start come August. protecting the quarterback won’t be a mysSouth Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier tery. The Gamecocks signed five offensive said that they haven’t made any decisions linemen on signing day to go along with the about redshirting yet, saying that all of the carousel of offensive linemen they already freshmen will have a chance to compete for have. playing time. But, there will be competition for who “We let them compete with the players is catching passes come springtime. With that are here when they come in,” Spurrier Pharoh Cooper anchoring the wide receivsaid. “If they’re a freshman and it doesn’t ing core, they are looking for guys to play look like they’ll play a lot, then we’ll go alongside him. ahead and redshirt them. We encourage evThey have three players coming off redery player coming in to compete for playing shirt years this season and have signed four time, then we’ll make that decision.” wide outs including 6-foot-5 Christian OwOne of the biggest battles will be a fourens. Recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier way battle behind center for the starting Jr. said that it’ll be nice having a guy with nod. With three quarterbacks already on his height coming in. the roster — Connor Mitch, Perry Orth, Both Owens and fellow wide out commit and Michael Scarnecchia — vying for the Jerad Washington have enrolled for the starting role, the Gamecocks have brought January semester and will be participating in dual-threat quarterback Lorenzo Nunez. in spring practice. Spurrier said that he’s “fired up” about the “With seven new guys, three of those

4 • Spurs & Feathers

February 11, 2015

Signing Day South Carolina celebrates football and donors by brian hand Executive Editor

It’s no secret that Gamecock fans are among some of the most passionate in the nation. New York City Gamecock Club chapter president Lou Antonelli is a perfect example of this passion. Just a few weeks ago, Antonelli was in South Carolina for the Gamecock Club Board of Directors meetings that he followed up with by staying for the weekend and attending the South Carolina-Kentucky men’s basketball game and the first-ever South Carolina baseball Leadoff Dinner. Carrying a top-shelf camera for quality photos and a smile, Antoneill was back in South Carolina on Wednesday, Feb. 4 for the annual Signing Day South Carolina event. “I couldn’t miss this,” Antonelli, who came in along with NYC Gamecock Club past president J.R. Buzzelli just for the day, said. Antonelli’s passion for the Gamecocks is indicative of everyone that was at 701 Whaley for Signing Day South Carolina. Jeff Crane, South Carolina’s Senior Associate AD/Development and Gamecock Club, says that the Signing Day South Carolina event is “a celebration of sorts and an opportunity for our coaches to thank our donors.” “Really this is probably the only time of the year where our donors get that opportunity to spend time in getting to know our coaches a little bit in hearing and talking with them one-on-one,” Crane relayed. “I think it’s rather unique and I think at the end of the day as crowded as it is - it’s one of the biggest crowds we’ve had for this event - the excitement for our football program is still very high. We want this event to grow and the folks that are here tonight are our best supporters and they support our scholarship initiative through the Gamecock Club at a very high level and that’s what gives them an opportunity to be here tonight.” To be invited to the event, one most be at the Garnet Spur level or above with the Gamecock Club. “Those that give $7,000 or more to the Gamecock Club every year are invited,” Crane noted. “We try to keep it as an opportunity that encourages people to give a little bit more because they get to attend a special event like this.” South Carolina quarterbacking legend

and current “Voice of the Gamecocks” for football Todd Ellis served as the emcee for the event that included the aforementioned fellowship with Gamecock football coaches and staff as well as Gamecock Club staff and South Carolina athletic staff. South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner thanked all of those in attendance for all that they do for Gamecock athletics. “As we gather tonight to celebrate this 2015 recruiting class, I want to say a very sincere thank you to all of you who are here tonight. You have made an investment for a long, long time,” Tanner mentioned. “Our fans, our donors, the support that you give us is as good as it gets across the country. And our great coaches and the athletes that we have can only be successful with you.” South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier echoed Tanner’s assertions. “I appreciate all of you Gamecocks,” Spurrier said. “Your financial support, your yelling is the best. There’s no question about it. I’ve got the best job in America working for coach Tanner and president (Harris) Pastides … thanks to all of you financially, we appreciate all that you do. We’re all on the same team and we think we’ve got some big years coming ahead.” The co-offfensive coordinator, wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator for the Gamecocks, Steve Spurrier Jr. also thanked everyone in attendance for all they do, but made specific note of his mother, Jerri, and all she does for Gamecock football. Each assistant coach then came up to talk about the signees at their position with video clips of the players on screens in the background. Co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Shawn Elliott during his talk about his five incoming players specifically made note of the quality of the individuals that the Gamecocks were bringing in at the position. “People want to talk about wavering, but I can tell you these are Gamecocks,” Elliott said. “They love the garnet and black.” The special evening would end with more fellowship among those in attendance, but Ellis summed up the thoughts of everyone in attendance in his closing. “Enjoy your evening and get ready for 2015 Gamecock football,” Ellis said. To learn more about the benefit levels of the Gamecock Club, please visit

Photo by jenny dilworth

February 11, 2015

Spurs & Feathers • 5

This class has the talent to move the Gamecocks forward I think the 2015 South Carolina football signing class is a testament to the hard work and a “never say die” effort by Coach Steve Spurrier and his staff. After a season that fell short of expectations and the unfortunate “maybe two or three more years” comment by the HBC, the class was rocked by a flood of de-commits, a number that eventually reached nine. Undaunted, the staff hit the road, identified some quality players who wanted to be Gamecocks, and let the city, the University and its people do the rest. When the ink dried this past Wednesday, 31 young men had accepted the challenge to help make USC’s program better. I can assure you of this, it is beyond remarkable for a program to lose essentially a third of its commitments and still sign a Top-20 class. I believe it’s a solid group because of something Rick Stockstill, former assistant under Lou Holtz, said was essential to a recruiting class: “You have to recruit numbers by position,” he said. “If you lose three linebackers then you sign at least three. If you don’t lose a running back maybe you only sign one. You can’t just sign four or five linemen, and 20 athletes, raise the level of the defense maybe a couple of and build a sound fundamental program.” (the notches. last sentence a reference to how Holtz’s staff When the media pointed out that top rivals recruited). Georgia (10) and Clemson (8) finished higher Following that formula to a tee, the Gamein the rankings, Coach Spurrier reminded them cocks added 16 players on defense, the side of that the Gamecocks have beaten the Bulldogs the ball with the most need, and 14 to the offour out of the last five years, the Tigers five of fense. the last six and Florida four of the last five. Beginning with the defense, there is no quesThe bottom line here is that the Carolina staff tion that one of the most glaring issues this past has never put a lot of stock in stars and bars, season was the lack of a pass rush. In order to trusting instead their evaluations as to which remedy that situation, five outstanding defensive players they should recruit, not just from a talent ends have been added to the roster, and I predict standpoint, but from a character standpoint as most or all of them will see significant playing well. time in the fall. The secondary was never able to From comments attributed to several playdevelop any depth and five players will compete ers, there were some “characters” on this past there. Every class looks to add linebackers, and season’s team that “don’t care,” but I believe the the Gamecocks signed four, two of which are team leadership will be stronger and do a better enrolled in school this semester. job of holding each other accountable. On offense, four wide I believe the impending hire receivers were added to a of John Hoke on the defensive position down in numbers, staff will be a tremendous boost as did the offensive line with for the defense. Because of his five players who will compete prior coaching relationship with early. Two tight ends were lost the HBC, and his extensive exand two were signed. A true perience in the pros, I think he dual-threat quarterback was a will bring an exciting perspecpriority, and one was signed. tive as to how defense should be I purposely haven’t gotten played. He certainly will bring into names, you can read their a more physical approach. bios in this edition, but suffice Hey, it’s just over a month Glenn Snyder to say this class has the taluntil the start of spring practice. Inside ent to move the Gamecocks It’s a great time to be a GameLook forward offensively, and to cock!

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6 • Spurs & Feathers

February 11, 2015

Moore: What is commitment?

“A commitment is a silent decision inside” © Steve Chandler The great thing about commitment is that it’s a choice! Nobody can make a commitment for you, nobody can force one on you, it’s all about you ... and depending on your perspective that’s either really empowering or really terrifying, but the choice is yours. The beauty of commitment is that it provides Langston Moore an anchor in Contributing the impermaWriter nent sea of life when circumstances change and feelings come and go. We can always rely on a commitment we made. So we can commit to all kinds of things, our partners, our money our health, etc ... But enough of the self help psycho babble we are here to talk about RECRUITS ... the only commitments on our minds are the ones being made (or not being made) by these five-star athletes. I remind you, many of the great players whose numbers are noted around Williams-Brice came in under the radar. Players like Eric Norwood, Connor Shaw, Kenny McKinley and D.J. Swearinger were all good players, but they made a commitment somewhere on their journey to be great! So while we, and I mean all of us get super excited about the verbal commitments that the latest five-star athlete makes, maybe we should slow down and analyze the silent decisions inside all of us when we talk about national signing day. Player/Parent Whether an athlete knows it or not, the biggest commitment is to not let feelings get in the way. It’s really easy to be committed when everyone loves you, everything you retweet goes viral and the coaches say you are the best thing since last year. All student-athletes can tell you though that your commitment gets tested when you DON’T FEEL LIKE IT. But that athlete also has to live in the weight room when it’s summer and all your other friends are at the beach, or when it’s a big Thursday in Five Points, but you can’t go because of winter workouts at 5 a.m., or when you find yourself having to switch positions from DL to OL, or when that senior season ends in mediocrity. I only mention this because this all happened to me and I too thought about jumping out the boat. But thankfully I had parents, teammates and coaches who reminded me that the “grass wasn’t always greener” and I honored my commitment. Many times my freshman

year I would call home to my mother only to complain after another day at the “proving grounds.” God bless her for doing what most Moms would do and let you vent for a while, but after 10-­15 mins of that she would always come back to “so what are YOU going to do?!” After hearing this every other evening during my first camp and freshman year, it finally dawned on me that the “YOU” she kept referring to was actually “me.” The guy who had direct control over my part in this whole equation. Making that shift in perspective empowered me to go from a guy who was just IN that recruiting class, to someone who had an IMPACT on that recruiting class. School­ “It’s the job of the institution to do everything in its power to give these young athletes the best blah blah blah…” Sounds like something out of a recruiting pamphlet. Yeah every University/school makes that commitment to their students-athletes with the best facilities, the latest technology, even the coolest uniforms. It’s very evident that universities will do what it takes to keep or surpass what every other school is doing, especially in the SEC. But what seems to be a “facilities improvement race” similar to that of an “arms” race between two wealthy imperialist countries, schools/ athletic departments can miss some of the most glaring needs of all for these student-athletes when so focused on the shiny new facilities. As mentioned before many of these supreme athletes have never been away from home. They’re first generation college students and need more than the average student in terms of support and work on the “inside out” development. It’s understable the length institutions will go to when it comes to providing athletes with top-notch nutrition, equipment, or dorm rooms all things athletes need to be the best on the field, but many institutions handicap these same supreme athletes with lack of real world life skills, coping skills, transition skills that will pay dividends long after that time spent in the new dining hall. Schools must commit to constantly reevaluating their ability and the systems in place to help grow and develop the person as much as the athlete or facility. “You gave us four years, we owe you the rest of our lives” © Lou Holtz At the senior banquet after an underwhelming senior season, those quoted words are the same words given to me four years earlier on my parents’ couch during my recruitment. Not many schools keep that promise and we’ve seen this lately with superstars like Lattimore, but we also have a plethora of “other guys” that need the institutions support long­term. Its easy to commit to the five-star athlete, but we must make a way to commit to the guy who only played on special teams or started a handful of games. Just like the NFL, college teams are made up of a few stars and A LOT of support-

ing actors. Both equally important in the play being acted out, both needing the same support away from the game as well. Just like the players who made the commitment to their institutions, the schools commitment to the PERSON should be ongoing and long term. That commitment again is one that changes over time for varying reasons, but the underlying obligation and dedication to these Gamecocks for a lifetime can only improve the University, not take away from it. Coaches Coaches, let’s not forget about the coaches in this equation. Coaches are the most vital part to the success of a program because of that one word “relationships.” In any business or walk of life it is about the relationships with the people around you. In this game called “major SEC college football,” the coach, especially the “position coach” has an obligation to commit to that person (not just player). To give him HIS all to help develop the young man he so coveted at one time. To find a way to push, lead and teach all at the same time while dealing with young men who are maturing into their own. I can still remember jewels of wisdom CoStrong told me, or situations when my position coaches guidance encouraged me to “finish,” “don’t loaf,” “do the little things,” or “stop being so soft” (he meant physically and mentally, push through the adversity). Of course these are the PG versions for the sake of this article, but still you get the jist of the impact that his commitment to me and how this has carried over into all areas of my life. A lot different from the in-house visits and phone calls during recruiting where we would discuss trivial teenage babble. The real Coach Strong yelling and demanding perfection with every rep might not have been what I wanted at 18­-19 yrs old. But it was just what my teammates and I needed to be successful then and later in life. All coaches have to move from the recruiting “honeymoon” relationship phase with players and their parents. To a teacher/coach who keeps the pressures and the demands on you to eventually ask more of that from yourself. In doing this the coach becomes more of a mentor and trusted advisor then a guy who gives you a gameplan and makes you run sprints for messing up. It’s a constant balancing act for these coaches as they commit to and work towards getting the best out of you without making the player/person “tune you out.” Fans One of the many byproducts of playing football at this level is the ongoing relationships and interactions with Gamecock Nation long after your playing days. Reliving moments and past interactions with all walks of Gamecocks makes my commitment some 10-plus years ago so very worthwhile. I get to relive many of my playing days at Carolina every Saturday as the sideline reporter. Something that affords

me the privilege of seeing so many different Gamecocks from all over. The fans are the ongoing reminder to me that without any of their love, enthusiasm and even nonsensical manic devotion to the garnet and black is what makes it “great to be a Gamecock” (They maybe crazy, but they’re our crazies). We all get blinded sometimes when we are so deeply committed, but fans must not forget that regardless of talent, stature on campus, or the era you played in it’s about the common thread of being a Gamecock. That these guys are “(y)our guys.” Even though they may not always live up to the expectations that we set forth for them on and off the field as fans at times, they are still our “lifelong brothers in the coop” and we are obligated to each other because of that bond. These young men have made a commitment to US(C) and we need to make sure that we welcome, embrace and stand up for these young chickens and raise them into GAMECOCKS for Life… “This is the end….” © The Doors Social media has a way of helping to keep things in perspective for me. As crazy as that sounds Twitter/Facebook/Instagram reminds us all that nothing last forever. Impermanence is something that is proven to be the only constant in this world. Only days removed from signing the 2015 class the cycle for the next group of chickens in waiting to be Gamecocks has already begun. There is already recruits on Twitter shouting out “Gamecock class of 2019 link up”?!!!!! Crazy as that sounds it will only be a matter of time before your favorite 2015 freshmen is being pictured with his family while walking across the field at senior day! It’s only a matter of time before we’re writing an article about this class and what they did or did not do (ex: “What the seniors taught us” Spurs & Feathers article). The clock is winding down on us all (players, fans, coaches, parents). Moments are always fleeting. Thats why we all must renew our commitments daily to the team, coach, players, school, heck to ourselves, to be the best we can be NOW (“the future is just a whole string of Now’s”). Waiting around until it’s the right time or right season or whatever to commit will only bring about shaky results. “Lukewarm commitment brings lukewarm results.” We all have to remain steadfast and fully committed to the vision and each other in the hopes of maximizing the opportunities, people, and resources we have NOW. Whomever we might be in this spectrum player, parent, student, coach, fan commit to that ideal frequently, especially before the next class signs on the dotted line… “Shout out class of 2020!” “Forever to Thee…” Follow Langston Moore on Twitter at: @reMovetheChains #justachicken #eat2win #yoby

Spurs & Feathers • 7

February 11, 2015

Heise: ‘We’re a Gamecock family’ by kyle heck Reporter

extremely grateful for. “It was really a special honor,” Heise said. “It was just very exciting and very surprisPhillip Heise is the epitome of a Gameing that I was chosen for it.” cock. He graduated from the University of Having been born and raised in Cayce, South Carolina in 1969 and his two sons Heise and his family have been lifelong also graduated from the University. He and Gamecock fans. His dad was an avid supboth of his sons are part of the Gamecock porter of all sports and his sons followed Club, with Heise being a member for 47 in his footsteps. After graduating from years. Brookland-Cayce High school, where his Heise has been attending both Gamecock mom, dad, his wife’s parents, his sister and basketball and football games for well over both of his sons all attended, Heise went half a century, with his first event being a to South Carolina and received a degree in football game his dad took him to in the Business Administration. late 1950’s when he was just nine years old. “We were just brought up as Gamecocks However, some of his favorite memories are and we have continued to do that,” Heise the ones in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s said. “As they say, once a Gamecock, you’re when South Carolina became a national always a Gamecock. I don’t think you can basketball powerhouse, thanks in large part turn around and leave it.” to legendary coach Frank McGuire. In addition to being a graduate of the Even when those glory days ended, Heise University, Heise is related to a couple of stayed loyal to the Gamecocks and still former Gamecock baseball stars. His first buys a season ticket every year. Because cousin Harvey Heise played at South Caroof his dedication to the University both in lina from 1981-84 and was a member of and out of the arena, Heise was honored as two College World Series teams. His wife’s a Legendary Fan of the Game before the nephew is Kip Bouknight, none other than Gamecock men’s basketball team took on the winningest pitcher in Gamecock histhe Georgia Bulldogs, a recognition he was tory, going 45-12 in his four seasons in

photos by allen sharpe

Columbia. Bouknight is the only South Carolina baseball player to win the Golden Spikes Award, the top amateur award in NCAA baseball. “We’re a Gamecock family,” Heise said. His two sons, Kyle and Kevin, also used to do the online broadcast of South Carolina men’s and women’s soccer games. Kevin is currently the head soccer coach at Brookland-Cayce while his brother Kyle is an assistant on his staff. Both men play a huge role when it comes to soccer in the

state of South Carolina, with Kyle and Kevin serving on the Executive Board of the South Carolina High School Soccer Coaches Association. Kevin was previously the president of the association. “I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but if the SCHSSCA didn’t have Kyle and Kevin on board, I don’t know if all of this stuff would get done,” Heise said. “They have both been recognized for their commitment on both the national and state level. I’m extremely proud of them.”

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8 • Spurs & Feathers

February 11, 2015

The 2015 class is full of players that will provide help in years to come

The spectacle that is college football in the weight room during his first month on Signing Day has come and gone and like a campus. Likely to join Lewis in making an 10-year old-child on Christmas Day sitting impact in 2015 is the tandem of true freshamong the tattered wrapping paper analyz- man Dexter Wideman and junior college ing his new toys recruiting websites judge transfer, sophomore Dante Sawyer. the winners and losers of signing day. The trio of defensive line recruits should South Carolina finished the recruiting sea- be an instant upgrade for the pass rushson with the 19th rated class in the country ing game plan the Gamecocks will want to by the 247Sports composite rankings that utilize. Along with their skills on the field, average the rankings from across the indus- they should also help ease the transition try. The class finished 9th in the SEC and by of true freshmen Shamiek Blackshear and most accounts has been deemed an average Quandeski Whitlow who are also considclass at best as much of the focus has been ered highly rated recruits. on the negative and centered on the fact that Prospects that can play multiple posithe Gamecocks lost nine players that comtions are always a nice quality to have and mitted at one time only to de-commit later. the coaching staff appears to have found Certainly there is never a good situation another player in the mold of Pharoh Cooto lose a player. No one should try to argue per. Georgia native Octavis Johnson is a that losing talented four-star prospects 6-foot-1, 180-pound athlete that is likely to such as offensive lineman Austin Clark, start his career out on the defensive side of defensive back Mark Fields or defensive end the ball similar to how Cooper began his Arden Key is good for a program. Alabama, career. Much like Cooper, during Johnson’s Florida State, Oregon and Ohio State did senior season of high school ball, he played not get to the College Football Playoff this the quarterback position in a run-oriented year by constantly losing potential talent offense and displayed excellent skills with during the recruiting process. the ball in his hands. Still, de-commitments are part of the One recruit destined to be an offensive recruiting process and while nine is a bit playmaker is wide receiver Jalen Christian. excessive, keep in mind that one of South The 5-foot-11 Maryland native has drawn Carolina’s bitter rivals, the Georgia Bullcomparisons to former Gamecock Ace dogs, suffered eight de-commitments. The Sanders for his elusive style of running and recruiting process really can be all about Bruce Ellington for his stocky, strong build. your perception of life, do you choose to Christian was recruited to Columbia by view the positive of what you have gained, quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus and is a or the negative of what you have lost? player that could instantly open up the ofDespite the desk pounding and teeth fense with his skills in the passing game. gnashing, the Gamecocks staff landed a No recruiting class is complete without the solid recruiting class that features several addition of a few offensive linemen as it is players that should be counted on to make potentially the hardest position to project for an impact instantly in 2015 as well as in the the future. future. The Gamecocks will certainly impress It did not take a rocket scientist or partpeople when they get off the bus for each time columnist to figure out rushing the game by signing 6-foot-7, 306-pound quarterback was a major area of concern for Christian Pellage of Brooksville, Fla. and the defense in 2014. After 6-foot-5, 302-pound Zach finishing 2012 with 43 quarBailey of Summerville, S.C. terback sacks, the GameBoth Pellage and Bailey cocks dipped to 25 in 2013 were considered highly and bottomed out in 2014 rated recruits that choose with just 14. the Gamecocks over ofJunior college transfer fers from schools such as Marquavius Lewis headlines Georgia, Florida, Florida a group of defensive lineman State and Clemson among ready to make an impact in others. They are joined in 2015. The Greenwood native the recruiting class by Blake Bill Gunter enrolled early and has alCamper and Trey Derouen ready drawn strong reviews Contributing to give the team depth at a from coaches and teammates Writer position that is critical to

2015 recruiting class that has been deemed “average” by recruiting experts. The bottom line though is not what players you bring into your program, but what you do with them when they arrive. Players such as Devin Taylor, D.J. Swearinger, Connor Shaw and Ace Sanders were all lightly recruited players that were developed into key components of the Gamecocks three-year run of 11 wins. Those talents came through the hard work of the coaching staff and the work ethic of the players themselves. Even though each player was considered a three-star prospect by different recruiting services, I saw each photo by allen sharpe one playing and contributing in the NFL Connor Shaw is a perfect example of a lesser this past season. Recruiting is the lifeblood of every college regarded recruit by some that developed into something much more for the Gamecocks. football program in the country and while the Gamecocks certainly could have done better, the 2015 class is full of players, such winning championships. as the ones listed above that will provide There are plenty of other players that help in the years to come. Gamecock fans can be excited about in the

Spurs & Feathers • 9

February 11, 2015

Holbrook: ‘I’m excited about our team’ by kyle heck Reporter

photo by allen sharpe

been banged up at various points in both of his seasons as a Gamecock, but is looking to put it all together this year. Holbrook said he has stopped “the late-night pizza” and has dropped 20-25 pounds, which will hopefully help his injury problems that Holbrook said has held him back. “I think Max is one of the best players in the country,” Holbrook said. “I don’t think our fans and the media have been able to see him perform at the level he is capable of performing on a consistent basis. He worked extremely hard in the offseason.” While Holbrook said he doesn’t think his team is the fifth-best team in the country right now, he is confident that they can become that. He knows they’ll experience a few bumps in the road, especially early in the season. Nevertheless, he and his team are ready to get 2015 underway. “It’s always exciting to start a new season,” Holbrook said. “Our players are ready to go. They’ve worked extremely hard, done everything I’ve asked them to do, had a great semes-

ter academically and did a lot of great things off the field. Now they just want to be inside the white lines playing ball.”

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One of the busiest people in the Palmetto State right now is South Carolina baseball coach Chad Holbrook. With questions regarding who is going to play where and who’s going to be closer and who’s going to pitch on Sundays, Holbrook from the start of spring practice had just 21 days and nine scrimmages to answer those questions before the season-opening series against a talented College of Charleston team. “We’ve got a lot of work to do between now and opening day,” Holbrook said. “I don’t feel like three weekend scrimmages are necessarily enough time to prepare and get our pitchers where we want them to be.” Because the Cougars, who made it all the way to the NCAA Super Regionals a year ago, will be such a tough team to open with, Holbrook said his team must be in midseason form on Opening Day. That’s a hard enough mission to accomplish even with all of the uncertainties. “We’ve got a lot of questions to answer as a coaching staff and a lot of decisions to make between now and opening day and maybe even between now and April 1 or May 1,” Holbrook said. “But we’ll do our best to put our players in the right spots and the right roles.” Along with who will be closer and the third weekend starter, other big questions that must be answered involve who is going to play at every infield position except first base, where senior slugger Kyle Martin is holding down fort, who will start at the corner outfield spots and who will take over for departed All-American Grayson Greiner at catcher. While uncertainty in so many areas can be a major concern for a team, the Gamecocks have brook says that Koch has a lot of camraderie the luxury of having several talented players at with the pitching staff while Taylor has great every position, which means that whoever wins makeup and is “as strong as an ox.” the job will be more than capable of leading Elliott Caldwell, Connor Bright and Gene South Carolina back to the postseason. Cone are among those competing for the variThat’s why the Gamecocks are still ranked ous outfield spots, but the competition won’t be No. 5 in the country in the limited to them. Holbrook said that because of preseason poll. the amount of depth he has in the infield some “I’m excited about our team,” Holbrook said. of those players could move out to the outfield. “We showed some great promise in the fall.” The third-year coach has been especially Returning to anchor the pitching staff is jupleased with Bright, who is returning from an nior Jack Wynkoop and sophomore Wil Crowe. injury-filled year last season and had a great fall There are plenty of possibilities to back those preceding his senior campaign. two up, including Josh Reagan, “He’s a senior and typically Vince Fiori, who Holbrook around here, seniors tend to called the pitcher of the fall, and have their best years and I Reed Scott. Another option is would expect Connor to do sophomore Taylor Widener, that,” Holbrook said. “He’s been who is currently the leading very important for us the last candidate to take over at closer. couple years and he’s important Holbrook is very confident to us this year.” with whoever will take over at Along with Martin, the other All Gamecock baseball catcher, whether it be Logan coverage sponsored by leader in the infield is junior Koch or Hunter Taylor. HolMax Schrock. Schrock has DiPrato’s

10 • Spurs & Feathers

February 11, 2015

South Carolina football signing day 2015 Zack Bailey: Highly regarded in-state offensive lineman who attends Summerville (S.C.) High School... was one of five finalists for South Carolina’s Mr. Football award... helped legendary coach John McKissick and the Green Wave to an 8-5 record and to the second round of the Class AAAA Division I playoffs as a senior... played left guard for the Sandlappers in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas where he was recognized as the strongest player at the game... considered a four-star prospect, the No. 2 player in the state, the fifth-best offensive guard in the country and No. 72 overall by Rivals... rated a three-star prospect and the 29th-best offensive guard in the country by Scout... regarded as a four-star prospect, the fourth-best player in the state, the 12th-best offensive guard in the country and No. 247 overall by 247Sports... ranked as a four-star prospect, the fifth-best player in the state, the No. 15 offensive guard in the country and No. 220 overall by ESPN... had offers from all over the Southeast.

Shameik Blackshear: Talented defensive end who attends Bluffton (S.C.) High School... played for coach Ken Cribb and the Bobcats... missed half of his senior season with a knee injury... selected to play in the Under Armour All-America game in St. Petersburg, Fla... racked up 96 tackles, 18 for loss, five sacks and 15 hurries as a sophomore... considered a fourstar prospect, the fifth-best player in the state and the 18th-best strongside defensive end in the country by Rivals... rated a four-star prospect, the 11th-best defensive end in the country and No. 120 overall by Scout... regarded as a four-star prospect, the second-best player in the state, the eighth-best weakside defensive end in the country and No. 119 overall by 247Sports... ranked as a four-star prospect, the fourth-best player in the state, the No. 18 defensive end and No. 203 overall by ESPN... had numerous offers from all over the Southeast, with Clemson, North Carolina, Georgia and LSU among his favorites.

Toure Boyd: Junior college transfer who played safety at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. for one year under head coach Rob Hadaway... recorded 80 tackles, two interceptions and broke up 10 passes... also blocked four kicks for the Panthers, who finished 6-5... garnered all-conference honors... considered a three-star prospect by Rivals, Scout and ESPN... rated a four-star prospect, the fifth-best JUCO player in California, the third-best JUCO safety in the country and the 21st-best junior college player overall, according to 247Sports... selected South Carolina over Arizona, Southern Miss, Utah and Washington State... planned to attend Boise State out of high school, but detoured to College of the Desert (Palm Desert, Calif.) before spending a year a Chaffey... grew up in Birmingham, Ala. before moving to California as a teenager... graduated from Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) High School in 2012... helped the Cougars to an 11-2 record under head coach Nick Balz in 2011... will have three years to play two.

Blake Camper: Offensive lineman who attends Frank W. Cox High School in Virginia Beach, Va... coached by Bill Stachelski... helped the Falcons to a 9-3 record and to the second round of the 6A playoffs as a senior... father, John, played for Steve Spurrier at Duke... considered a three-star prospect, the 26th-best player in the state and the 85th-best offensive tackle in the country by Rivals... a three-star prospect and the 88th-best offensive tackle in the country according to Scout... regarded as a three-star prospect, the 28th-best player in the state and the 75th-best offensive tackle in the country by 247Sports... ranked as a three-star prospect, the 32nd-best player in the state and the 90th-best offensive tackle in the country by ESPN... committed to Rutgers before switching his pledge to the Gamecocks... also considered East Carolina, Louisville, Maryland, North Carolina State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and West Virginia.

Joseph Charlton: Local product who attends A.C. Flora High School in Columbia... handled the kickoff, punting and placekicking duties as a prep... helped the Falcons and coach Reggie Shaw to a 13-2 record and a spot in the state AAA semifinals as a senior... considered a three-star prospect by Rivals and Scout... regarded as a three-star prospect, the 20-best player in the state and the second-best punter in the country by 247Sports... ESPN ranks him as a three-star prospect, the 21st-best player in the state and the 15th-best kicker in the country.

Jalen Christian: Standout wide receiver who attends Damascus (Md.) High School... helped the Hornets and head coach Chris DeRosa to a 14-1 record and a spot in the state championship game as a senior... was on the 2015 Semper Fidelis All-American roster... was a two-way, four-year varsity starter who played receiver, defensive back, and returned kicks and punts... considered a four-star prospect, the eighth-best player in the state and the 38th-best wide receiver in the nation, according to Rivals... rated a four-star prospect, the 33rd-best wide receiver in the country and No. 231 overall by Scout... regarded as a four-star prospect, the best player in the state, the seventh-best “athlete” in the country and No. 105 overall by 247Sports... ranked as a four-star prospect, the fourth-best player in Maryland, the No. 29 wide receiver in the country and No. 252 overall by ESPN... had over 20 Division I offers.

Devante Covington: Defensive end originally signed with the Gamecocks in February 2013...

spent the past two seasons at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville, Ga... coached by Bert Williams... considered a two-star prospect by Rivals and Scout out of junior college... ranked as a three-star prospect and the No. 10 junior college defensive end by ESPN... helped Richmond County (Rockingham, N.C.) to an 11-2 record and to the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs as a senior in 2012... coached by Paul Hoggard... named to the 2012 Associated Press all-state team... participated in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas following his senior season... as a junior, recorded 34 tackles and eight sacks... out of high school he was considered a threestar prospect who was ranked as the 28th-best player in the state of North Carolina by Rivals... a three-star prospect and the nation’s 42nd-best defensive end by Scout... a three-star prospect, the 17th-best player in the state, and the 20thbest weakside defensive end in the country by 247Sports... a three-star prospect and an AllAtlantic Region pick according to PrepStar... also had offers from Clemson, East Carolina, NC State and Tennessee... hails from the same high school that produced former Gamecock All-American Melvin Ingram... born March 6, 1994... will have three years to play two.

Mon Denson: Running back who attends LaGrange (Ga.) High School... also played linebacker... earned all-state honors for coach Dialleo Burks... the Grangers posted a 5-6 record and lost in the first round of the Class AAAAA playoffs in his senior season... rushed for nearly 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns... selected to play in the Georgia-Florida All-Star game where he scored on a 26-yard run... also selected for the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl... considered a three-star prospect, the 47th-best player in the state and the 46th-best running back in the nation, according to Rivals... rated a three-star prospect and the 83rd-best running back in the country by Scout... regarded as a three-star prospect, the 82nd-best player in the state and the 57th-best running back in the country by 247Sports... ranked as a threestar prospect, the 56th-best player in the state and the No. 50 running back in the country by ESPN... had nearly 20 Division I offers. Trey Derouen: Offensive lineman who attends Parkview High School in Lilburn, Ga... the Panthers went 4-6 under coach Eric Godfree in 2014... earned second-team Class

Spurs & Feathers • 11

February 11, 2015

5 AAAAAA All-State honors by the Georgia Sports Writers Association... considered a three-star prospect by Rivals... recognized as a three-star prospect and the nation’s 91st-ranked offensive guard by Scout... rated a three-star prospect, the 91st-best player in the state and the 55th-best offensive guard in the country by 247Sports... considered a three-star prospect, the 91st-best palyer int he state and the 57thbest offensive guard in the nation by ESPN... originally commited to Mississippi State... also visited Florida and Louisville and considered Kansas State.

Daniel Fennell: Linebacking prospect who attends Grayson High School in Loganville, Ga... helped the Rams and head coach Mickey Conn to a 10-2 record and the second round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs in his senior season... rated a three-star prospect, the 46thbest player in the state and the 38th-best outside linebacker in the country by Rivals... regarded as a three-star prospect, the 71st-best player in the state and the 22nd-best inside linebacker in the country by 247Sports... ranked as a threestar prospect and the No. 40 outside linebacker by ESPN... had over 20 Division I offers.

Rashad Fenton: Attends Miami Carol City High School in Miami... coached by Aubrey Hill... started on the varsity squad at Norland High as a freshman... rated a three-star prospect by Rivals... is a three-star prospect and the 119th-best cornerback in the country according to Scout... considered a three-star prospect, the 58th-best player in the state of Florida and the 45th-best cornerback in the country by

247Sports... regarded as a three-star prospect, the 224th-best player in the state and the No. 97 cornerback in the country by ESPN... selected South Carolina over Auburn and Florida.

Ernest Hawkins: Junior college transfer who enrolled at South Carolina in January... played one year for coach Matt Collins at Hartnell College in Salinas, Calif... earned first-team allconference honors in the Golden Coast Conference for a Panther team that went 9-2... credited with 56 tackles in just eight games played with 12.0 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks... considered a three-star prospect by Rivals... regarded as a three-star prospect, the 35th-best JUCO player in the state, the third-best junior college inside linebacker in the country and No. 135 overall by 247Sports... ranked as a three-star prospect and the No. 3 junior college inside linebacker by ESPN... also considered Colorado and Hawaii after his year of junior college... graduated from Dunbar High in Baltimore in 2012... originally signed with UTEP, but did not attend

school until enrolling at Hartnell in 2014... will have four years to play three.

Cory Helms: Transfer who will join the Gamecocks after playing 23 games including 22 starts over the past two years for Wake Forest... started the first seven games of the 2014 season at left guard, then moved back to center for the final five contests... earned Freshman All-America accolades in 2013... played in all 12 games with 11 starts at center as a true freshman... started every game except Senior Day vs. Duke, giving way to senior Whit Barnes... started the season opener vs. Presbyterian to become the first Demon Deacon since defensive tackle Marvin Mitchell in 1987 to start his very first collegiate game... a 2013 graduate of Milton High School in Georgia... earned all-metro, all-region and high school AllAmerican honors... awarded first team All-Region 5-6A honors as a senior... was

12 • Spurs & Feathers

the starting center for the Blue team in the Offense-Defense All-America Bowl in Houston... ranked as the No. 9 center nationally and the No. 58 prospect in Georgia by Rivals... played for coach Howie DeCristofaro... had 11 offers including South Carolina, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Louisville and USF... selected the Gamecocks over offers from Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Penn State after electing to leave Wake Forest... born December 31, 1994.

Jalen Henry: Linebacker who graduated from Foley (Ala.) High School in December 2014... enrolled at Carolina in January... coached by Todd Watson... the Lions reached the state Class 7A semifinals with a 10-4 record... selected for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game following his senior season... missed the majority of his junior season after breaking his foot in the second game of the year... led his team in tackles as a sophomore... also played baseball and basketball... considered a three-star prospect and the 31st-best player in the state by Rivals... rated a three-star prospect and the 76th-best outside linebacker in the country by Scout... regarded as a three-star prospect, the 38th-best player in the state and the 40th-best inside linebacker in the country by 247Sports... ranked as a three-star prospect, the 30th-best player in the state and the No. 78 outside linebacker by ESPN... also considered Southern Miss.

Octavis Johnson: Defensive back who attends Clinch County High School in Homerville, Ga... played on both sides of the ball for the Panthers, who were eliminated in the first round of the Class A state playoffs... coached by Jim Dickerson... earned first-team all-state accolades... rated a four-star prospect, the 18thbest player in the state, the 19th-best cornerback in the country and the 209th-best player overall, according to Rivals... rated a four-star prospect, the 31st-best cornerback in the country and No. 288 overall by Scout... regarded as a three-star prospect, the 37th-best player in the state and the 31st-best “athlete” in the country by 247Sports... ranked as a three-star prospect, the 54th-best player in Georgia and the No. 55

February 11, 2015

“athlete” in the country by ESPN... had a dozen major Division I offers and selected South Carolina over Clemson and Tennessee.

play two.

Ulric Jones: Junior college player who played at Butler (Kan.) Community College... coached by Troy Morrell... earned honorable mention all-conference accolades in the Jayhawk Conference at defensive end... credited with 43 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in 2014 for a Grizzlies team that went 8-3... originally committed to Maryland before selecting the Gamecocks... graduated from Oxford (Ala.) High School in 2013... selected Mississippi State out of high school... will have three years to play two.

Marquavius Lewis: Highly regarded junior college transfer who enrolled at South Carolina in January... played at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College for head coach Rion Rhoades... named the Jayhawk Conference Defensive Player of the Year and first-team all-conference... twice earned conference Player of the Week accolades and once garnered national Player of the Week honors... credited with 63 tackles in 12 games including 20.5 tackles for loss and 11.0 sacks... had 21 quarterback hurries, forced two fumbles and recovered one... helped the Blue Dragons to an 11-win season for the first time in the program’s 83-year history and a No. 4 final ranking, their highest ever in the NJCAA Football Poll... in 2013 he logged 63 tackles with 19 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 15 quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and a blocked kick... graduated from Greenwood (S.C.) High School in 2012... attended Greenville Tech in the fall of 2012 before transferring to Hutch... is a fourstar prospect according to Rivals... rated a five-star prospect and the best junior college prospect in the country by Scout... ranked as a four-star prospect and the No. 1 junior college strong-side defensive end in the country and No. 3 overall by 247Sports... ESPN considers him a four-star recruit, the second-best defensive end and the No. 6 player overall in the JUCO ranks... also considered Auburn before choosing the Gamecocks... has two years to

Kyle Markway: Tight end who attends St. John Vianney in Kirkwood, Mo... coached by Paul Day... played both ways and in multiple roles for the Golden Griffins during his prep career... team went 7-5 in his senior campaign... earned first-team Class 5 All-State honors as a tight end... as a junior, he caught 28 passes for 254 yards and a touchdown and recorded 64 tackles with seven sacks, helping his squad to a 7-4 record... logged 18 catches for 225 yard and two scores and earned all-conference honors at defensive end after collecting 43 tackles with four sacks as a sophomore... rated a three-star prospect and the 13th-best player in the state by Rivals... rated a three-star prospect and the 31st-best tight end in the country by Scout... regarded as a three-star prospect, the 18th-best player in the state and the 45th-best tight end in the country by 247Sports... ranked as a threestar prospect, the 10th-best player in the state and the No. 17 tight end by ESPN... offer list included several Big Ten schools with Iowa at the top of his list, where his uncle, Matt Markway, played for the Hawkeyes in the ‘90s.

Dexter Neal: “D.J.” attends Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Ga... played multiple positions on both sides of the ball for coach Ron Gartrell... helped the Jaguars to an 8-4 record and the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs as a senior... caught seven touchdowns and averaged over 15 yards per catch as a sophomore... rated a four-star prospect, the 23rd-best player in the state and the 31st-best wide receiver in the country by Rivals... rated a three-star prospect and the 127th-best wide receiver in the country by Scout... regarded as a three-star prospect, the 77th-best player in the state and the 85th-best wide receiver in the country by 247Sports... ranked as a four-star prospect, the 44th-best player in the state and the No. 54 wide receiver in the country by ESPN... had offers from about 20 Division I schools with his interest primarily on Georgia, Tennessee, Clemson and Auburn... also highly regarded as a baseball player who could be drafted in July... rated the No. 116 overall baseball prospect and the No.

26 outfielder by Perfect Game... interested in playing two sports at South Carolina. Lorenzo Nunez: Quarterback prospect who attends Harrison High School in Kennesaw, Ga... coached by Matt Dickmann... the Hoyas went 5-6 in his senior season... considered a four-star prospect, the 25th-best player in the state and the 16th-best dual-threat quarterback in the country according to Rivals... rated a three-star prospect and the 31st-best quarterback in the country by Scout... regarded as a three-star prospect, the 38th-best player in the state and the 15th-best dual-threat quarterback in the country by 247Sports... ranked as a three-star prospect, the 53rd-best player in Georgia and the No. 18 dual-threat quarterback by ESPN... had numerous offers from all over the country.

Christian Owens: Lanky wide receiver who graduated from Griffin (Ga.) High School in December and enrolled at South Carolina in January... the Bears, under head coach Jarrett Laws, went 11-1 in 2014 and reached the second round of the Class AAAA playoffs... as a junior he had 23 catches for 600 yards and three touchdowns... considered a four-star prospect, the 33rd-best player in Georgia and the 11th-best tight end in the country by Rivals... rated a three-star prospect and the 79thbest wide receiver in the country by Scout... 247Sports considers him a three-star prospect, the 64th-best player in Georgia and the nation’s 70th-best wide receiver... ranked as a four-star prospect, the 38th-best player in the state and the No. 5 H-tight end in the country by ESPN... also played basketball in high school... originally committed to Georgia and had offers from Clemson, Louisville, North Carolina and Tennessee among others.

Spurs & Feathers • 13

February 11, 2015

Christian Pellage: Offensive lineman who attends Nature Coast Tech in Brooksville, Fla... helped coach Justin Worden and the Sharks post a 7-4 mark in his senior season... earned a spot on the Florida Class 5A first-team all-state squad... invited to play in the Under Armour All-America Game played in St. Petersburg Fla... considered a three-star prospect, the 75th-best player in the state and the 51st-best offensive tackle by Rivals... rated a three-star prospect and the 63rd-best offensive tackle in the country by Scout... regarded as a three-star prospect, the 62nd-best player in the state and the 47th-best offensive tackle in the country by 247Sports... ranked as a four-star prospect, the 28th-best player in Florida, the No. 14 offensive tackle in the nation and No. 138 overall by ESPN... selected South Carolina over Florida among more than 30 offers.

Sherrod Pittman: Linebacker who graduated from First Coast High School in Jacksonville, Fla. in December and enrolled at Carolina in January... coached by Marty Lee... Buccaneers went 12-1 in his senior season and reached the third round of the Florida 8A playoffs... broke his leg late in his final campaign... earned a spot on the Florida Class 8A all-state squad... tallied 103 tackles and three interceptions as a junior, earning first-team all-state honors... logged 74 tackles with seven forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries as a sophomore... considered a four-star recruit, the 19th-best player in the state of Florida, the nation’s fifth-best inside linebacker, and the country’s 112th-best player overall by Rivals... rated a three-star prospect and the 31st-best middle linebacker in the country by Scout... 247Sports ranks him as a threestar prospect, the 61st-best player in Florida and the nation’s 32nd-best outside linebacker... ranked as a four-star prospect, the 40th-best player in Florida, the No. 6 inside linebacker and No. 222 overall by ESPN... also considered Louisville and Southern California.

Connor Redmond: Tight end prospect who attends Archer High School in Lawrenceville, Ga... overcame a back injury to help head coach Andy Dyer and the Tigers to the Class AAAAAA state championship game and an 11-4 record after an 0-3 start in his senior season... earned a spot on the 2013 AJC first-team offense all-state team after making about 40 catches... played tight end and linebacker as a freshman then moved strictly to tight end for the remainder of his prep career... considered a threestar prospect by Rivals... rated a three-star prospect and the 37th-best tight end in the country by Scout... regarded as a three-star prospect, the 158th-best player in the state and the 60th-best tight end in the country by 247Sports... ranked as a three-star prospect, the 106th-best player in Georgia and the No. 21 tight end in the country by ESPN... had more than a dozen Division I offers... picked South Carolina over Boston College Virginia and Kansas State.

Dante Sawyer: Defensive end who spent the 2014 season at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, Miss... played for coach Buddy Stephens... helped the Lions to a perfect 12-0 record and the NJCAA football championship... credited with 21 tackles including 6.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss... also forced a pair of fumbles... considered a four-star prospect by Rivals... was a three-star prospect and the No. 36 JUCO player in the country according to Scout... regarded as a four-star prospect, the third-best JUCO player in the state, the top JUCO weakside defensive end in the country and No. 6 overall junior college prospect by 247Sports... ranked as a four-star prospect, the No. 3 junior college defensive end and 13th overall by ESPN... coached by Bob Sphire at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Ga.... graduated in 2014... helped the Bulldogs to a 13-3 record and the state championship game as a senior... logged 49 tackles, including eight tackles for loss and three sacks in his final campaign... earned first-team Class 6A all-state accolades by the Georgia Sportswriters... also earned a spot on the AJC’s Class 6A all-metro team... played in the U.S. Army All-America Bowl... recorded three sacks in that allstar game... out of high school, Rivals considered him a four-star prospect, the 13thbest player in the state, the seventh-best strongside defensive end in the country and No. 87 on the Rivals100 list... Scout ranked him as a four-star prospect, the 24th-best

defensive end in the country and No. 231 overall... considered a four-star prospect, the 8th-best player in the state, the fifth-best weakside defensive end in the nation, and No. 121 overall, according to 247Sports... ESPN considered him a four-star prospect, No. 88 on its ESPN300 list, the ninth-best defensive end in the nation and the seventhbest player in the state... ranked by PrepStar as a four-star prospect and No. 60 on the Top 150 Dream Team... also visited Missouri before choosing the Gamecocks... was born December 17, 1994.

Darin Smalls: Defensive back who originally signed with the Gamecocks in February 2014 but did not enroll in school until January 2015... spent the fall of 2014 rehabbing his knee injury... played for legendary coach John McKissick at Summerville (S.C.) High School, graduating in 2014... the Green Wave went 11-3 and reached the state semifinals in his senior season... suffered a knee injury in his final campaign... logged 60 tackles and intercepted six passes as a sophomore, returning two for touchdowns... also competed in baseball and track... Rivals considered him a three-star prospect, the 11th-best player in the state and the 37th-best cornerback in the country... Scout rated him as a three-star prospect and the 53rd-best cornerback in the country... considered a three-star prospect, the 15th-best player in the state, and the 37th-best safety in the nation, according to 247Sports... ESPN considered him a three-star prospect, the 23rd-best safety in the nation and the 14th-best player in the state... ranked by PrepStar as a three-star prospect and an All-Atlantic Region pick... had more than a dozen major college offers.

A.J. Turner: Running back who attends Centreville High School in Clifton, Va... played both sides of the ball for head coach Chris Haddock... missed much of his senior season with a wrist injury when the Wildcats went 12-3 and reached the state 6A title game before losing in overtime... helped guide his team to an undefeated season

and a state title as a junior when he rushed for 1,287 yards, scored 32 touchdowns and logged eight interceptions... rated a three-star prospect, the 18th-best player in the state and the 44th-best running back in the nation by Rivals... rated a four-star prospect and the 41st-best running back in the country by Scout... regarded as a three-star prospect, the 17th-best player in the state and the 34th-best running back in the country by 247Sports... ranked as a three-star prospect, the 31st-best player in Virginia and the No. 80 running back in the country by ESPN... had over 20 Division I offers with Virginia and Michigan State as his other top choices.

Jerad Washington: Speedy wide receiver who graduated from First Coast High School in Jacksonville in December 2014... enrolled at Carolina in January... helped the Buccaneers under head coach Marty Lee to a 12-1 record and the third round of the 8A playoffs as a senior... caught 52 passes for 889 yards... earned a spot on the Florida Class 8A all-state squad... played for Nease High in Ponte Vedra Beach (Fla.) as a freshman where he caught 67 passes for 790 yards and five touchdowns before his family moved to Baltimore... played his sophomore season in Maryland before moving back to the Jacksonsville area... a three-star prospect according to Rivals... rated a three-star prospect and the 144th-best wide receiver in the country by Scout... 247Sports ranked him as a three-star prospect, the 214th-best player in Florida and the nation’s 187th-best wide receiver... regarded as a three-star prospect, the 171st-best player in the state and the 149th-best wide receiver in the country by ESPN... also played baseball... had interest from Kentucky and North Carolina among other schools.

Quandeski Whitlow: Defensive end who attends Opelika (Ala.) High School... played for coach Brian Blackmon... helped the Bulldogs to a 9-2 record and the second round of the Class 6A playoffs in his senior season... recorded 50 tackles including 17.5 for loss, 5.5 sacks and 27 quarterback hurries... participated in the

14 • Spurs & Feathers

Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic where he had three tackles for loss including a sack... had eight tackles for loss and his 43 tackles as a junior in 2013... handled the team’s kickoffs as a sophomore... rated a three-star prospect, the 15th-best player in the state and the 24thbest weakside defensive end in the nation by Rivals... rated a three-star prospect and the 61stbest defensive end in the country by Scout... regarded as a three-star prospect, the 29th-best player in the state and the 38th-best weakside defensive end in the country by 247Sports... ranked as a three-star prospect, the 23rd-best player in Alabama and the No. 53 defensive end by ESPN... also visited Louisville and Florida among his numerous offers... is a cousin of former Kentucky quarterback Jalen Whitlow.

February 11, 2015

on the Top 150 Dream Team... originally committed to Florida State. Antoine Wilder: Defensive back who attends Hapeville Charter in Atlanta... played both safety and running back for coach Winston Gordon and the Hornets... underwent knee surgery in October and missed the rest of his senior season... considered a three-star prospect by Rivals... rated a three-star prospect and the 52nd-best safety in the country by Scout... regarded as a three-star prospect, the 70th-best player in the state and the 41st-best safety in the country by 247Sports... ranked as a threestar prospect, the 90th-best player in Georgia and the No. 58 safety in the country by ESPN... also visited Tennessee State and had interest in Mississippi State and Louisville.


Dexter Wideman: Defensive lineman who originally signed with the Gamecocks in February 2014... spent the fall at Camden (S.C.) Military Academy... played for head coach Will Rice... dislocated his elbow in the third game... enrolled at South Carolina in January 2015... rated as a four-star prospect by Rivals and ESPN... considered a four-star prospect and the top prep school recruit in the country by 247Sports... graduated from Saluda (S.C.) High School in 2014... the Tigers went 5-6 under head coach Wayne Bell in 2013... played in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas and in the Under Armour All-America game following his senior season... logged four tackles in the Shrine Bowl... credited with 64 tackles and seven sacks in 2012... logged 61 tackles with 14.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in 2011... Rivals considered him a four-star prospect, the fifth-best player in the state, the 15th-best defensive tackle in the country and No. 237 on the Rivals250 following his senior season... Scout ranked him as a four-star prospect, the 22ndbest defensive tackle in the country and No. 266 overall... 247Sports listed him as a four-star prospect, the nation’s No. 7 defensive tackle, the second-best player in the state and No. 64 on its Top247 list... ESPN considered him a four-star prospect, the 12th-best defensive tackle in the nation, No. 179 on the ESPN300 list and the sixth-best player in the state... ranked by PrepStar as a four-star prospect and No. 141

Sean Kelly: Transfer who joined the Gamecocks in January of 2015 as a walk-on... did not play football in the fall of 2014 while attending Tallahassee Junior College... spent the previous two years at Florida Atlantic... as a sophomore in 2013, he punted for 3,072 yards, averaging 42.7 yards per punt, and set a career-best with a 64-yard punt against FIU... had 19 punts of over 50 yards and pinned opponents inside the 20 on 26 occasions... ranked third in Conference USA and 36th in the NCAA for average yards per punt... ranked third in punting yards and second in average yards per punt in FAU history... also had a pair of 63-yard boots against Rice and Auburn... named FAU’s Special Team MVP and was a three-time FAU game ball winner (at ECU, at Rice and NMSU)... received second-team honors in Phil Steele’s 2013 Mid-Season All-C-USA team and was a second team allconference selection... as a freshman, joined the squad during camp in 2012 and handled every punt for the squad... averaged 39.9 yards per punt including 14 that were 50+ yards... 16 landed inside the 20... saw four games where he was called into action eight times, all on the road (Georgia, Alabama, ULM and Western Kentucky)... four of his 50+ yard boots were at Alabama, including two that fell inside the 20... attempted a field goal in the season opener and was credited with six kickoffs in the first two games... awarded a scholarship after his freshman season by Carl Pelini... punted and played quarterback at West Orange High School in Winter Garden, Fla. and drew interest from Catawba College as a signal-caller... also considered Florida State before selecting the Gamecocks... will have two years to play two.

South Carolina women’s soccer signing day 2015 Kiley Burns

Midfielder • Plano, Texas • Plano West Senior • Dallas Texans ECNL A captain while playing for Leo Maric and the Dallas Texans ECNL...2013 Texas Conference Champions...2012 & 2014 ECNL Finals, finishing fourth in 2014...2014 Dallas International Cup Champions...Named to Texas Player Development Pool...a two-time captain at Plano West Senior where the team won back-to-back 5A state championships (2012, 2013) while climbing to a No. 1 national ranking in both seasons...2014 5A state finalist... named First-Team All-State, All-Region and All-District while playing for Allie Rogosheske at Plano West

Courtney Kaplan

Forward • St. Louis, Mo. • Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day • St. Louis Scott Gallagher Played club soccer for Ralph Richards’ St. Louis Scott Gallagher... was invited and attended ID2 camp for two years... Played for Michael Black at MICDS and also earned letters in varsity basketball.

Simone Wark

Forward • Whitby, Ontario, Canada • Bill Crothers Secondary • Glen Shields FC 2014 Toronto Lady Lynx W-League team member, 2014 Team Ontario Rex Program team member, 2014 member of U20 Jamaican National Team for CONCACAF...2013 member of Team Ontario U18 Canada Games Team, taking bronze....2013 member of Team Ontario U16 National Champions, and was awarded the Golden Boot and named MVP for the Ontario Cup Finalist game...2010-14 Team Ontario member, taking the national championship from 2010-13...Playing for Dave Benning and the Glen Shields FC, won the 2013 League Cup Championship and was a U16 Ontario Cup finalist....2014 Brams United Bandits OYSL U17 highest goal scoring percentage...2013

OYSL U17 leading goal scorer...played two seasons of soccer at Bill Crothers Secondary for Allison Fox, winning the 2014 OFSAA Provincial championship...was a star on the track, taking bronze in the YRAA 100m dash, silver in the YRAA 200m dash and gold in the YRAA 4x100m relay in 2014... was a 2013 OFSAA 4x100m silver medalist.

Hunter Peifer

Goalkeeper • Colorado Springs, Colo. • Cheyenne Mountain • CO Pride Predators ‘97 October 2014 U-20 Women’s National Team Camp...2009, 2011 & 2012 ODP Colorado Championship team; 2011 &2012 ODP Region IV Camp; 2011 US Club Soccer ID2 Camp...served as a team captain at the club level since 2009... plays for Sian Hudson and the CO Pride Predators ‘ was 2012, 2014 & 2015 Colorado State Club Champions; 2014 & 2015 U18 Super League Champions; 2014 USYSA Region IV Far West Championship Finalist; 2014 Disney Soccer Showcase Finalist; 2014 & 2015 USYSA National League participant; 2013 US Club National Cup Cheyenne Mountain, earned four varsity letters playing for Tomas Martinez...a 2015 team 2014, was named to Colorado AllStar Team, was First-Team All-Area and Academic All-State First 2013 earned Honorable Mention All-Colorado, Second Team All-State, Second Team All-League and Honorable Mention 3,312 minutes played for Cheyenne Mountain, boasts a 0.4 goals against average, allowing just 17 goals, while collecting 177 saves and 28 shutouts

Carrie Lawrence

Midfielder • Orlando, Fla. • Timber Creek • Florida Krush Played for the Florida Krush and Hue Menzies and won state and regional championships...ODP State Team, ODP Region III Team and WPSL team selection...playing for Cameron Stevens at Timber Creek, was named an All-Metro and All-State Player, Offensive Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player while capturing Metro and District championships.

Spurs & Feathers • 15

February 11, 2015

South Carolina men’s soccer signing day 2015 Torgeir Nyboe

Defender • Tynset, Norway Scored 10 goals in 11 games during the spring while playing center back and was named his team’s Junior Player of the Year ... Moved up to the senior team ... Also participated in cross-country skiing and handball in his youth. Why he chose SC: “To be able to play soccer at a high level and at the same time be able to focus on the studies. (I have heard) good reports from several people about the school.”

Ben Davidson

Midfield/Forward • Sugar Land, Texas Played three years of soccer at Strake Jesuit College Prepatory School, earning firstteam all-district honors in 2013-14 ... Also played golf for the Crusaders

... A honor roll and National Honor Society member. Why he chose SC: The location, campus environment and the opportunity to play

Yanis Fekih

Midfield/Forward • Paris, France Grew up in the Bayer Leverkusen Academy before returning to France to finish his high school and youth career ... Named Best XI of the French high school national champion-

ships. Why he chose SC: The coaching staff, and the soccer program

Peyton Ericson

Midfield • Duluth, Ga. Named to the 6A allstate team for the Northview Titans ... Also earned the 6A Freshman of the Year award ... Played with Georgia United, serving as team captain for this

year ... Made the honor roll. Why he chose SC: The coaching staff, school atmosphere and academics

Matt McManis

Defender • Greenwood, S.C. Two-year starter at Presbyterian on the back line ... Led the Blue Hose in goals (2) last year, posting both in a win over Wofford (9/6) in the final three minutes of the contest ... Topped the Blue Hose in minutes played (1,261) ... Also kicked for PC’s football team during his freshman season ... Helped Greenwood High School to region titles en route to all-state honors ... Played club soccer for SC United.

All of these bios for football and men’s and women’s soccer have been compiled through the hard work of the South Carolina Athletics Media Relations office. We cannot thank them enough for their hard work and dedication to Gamecock athletics!

Dozier named McDonald’s All-American University of South Carolina men’s basketball signee P.J. Dozier (G - 6-7 - 185 - Columbia, S.C. - Spring Valley High School) has been named to the roster for the 38th annual McDonald’s AllAmerican Games, as announced on ESPNU. The men’s game will take place on April 1, 2015, at the United Center in Chicago. Dozier is just the fourth South Carolina player to be selected to the squad, as the others include Dozier’s uncle, Terry Dozier, South Carolina’s all-time leading scorer BJ McKie, and Rolando Howell. It is Carolina’s first McDonald’s All-American signee since 2000. Dozier, who will play on the West Team in the All-American game, is noted as one of the top guards in the nation and is rated as the No. 25 overall prospect in the ESPN 100, and the No. 26 prospect overall and the top prospect in the state of South Carolina according to He participated in the NBA Top 100 Camp, the 2012 USA Basketball fall minicamp and was invited to the U-18 US National Team training camp. Dozier is a native of Columbia and is in his senior season at Spring Valley High School.


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16 • Spurs & Feathers

February 11, 2015

South Carolina Gamecocks

Recruiting Round-up By Phil Kornblut

LB TJ Brunson of Richland Northeast was among the junior visitors at USC last Saturday. He was one of the few 2016 recruits invited by the Gamecocks without an offer from them, but that changed earlier in the week when the Gamecocks called with an offer. That moved them to the top of his list. ‘I’m excited about the offer,” Brunson said. “Their defense is very similar to ours and I can see myself Phil Kornblut playing in it and unContributing derstanding what’s Writer happening. The coaches made me feel at home and Coach Botkin and I are building a good relationship. I will go to a spring practice and I will take an official visit there my senior year.” Brunson is also drawing interest from Clemson, Florida, Tennessee, Virginia, Wake Forest, Purdue and Louisville. Last season Brunson made 134 tackles and 4 sacks. He had 103 tackles and 2 sacks as a sophomore. Brunson plans to go to junior days at NC State February 21st and Clemson March 7th. He’s also thinking about a visit to Louisville. WR Bryan Edwards of Conway is one of the state’s best for 2016 and he spent last Saturday at USC taking a better look at the program he currently favors. USC has been by Conway to see Edwards a couple of times and recruiter Steve Spurrier Jr. took in one of his recent basketball games. “It’s just their constant recruiting,” Edwards said in explaining why USC leads for him over Clemson and Wake Forest. “They spread the ball around and share the wealth. I feel like if I can make plays, I can fit in any offense.

The relationship I have with coach Spurrier Jr. and talking to him a lot, he’s telling me a lot of things.” Duke was in to see Edwards last week. Wake Forest also has been in. But USC is the team to beat and Edwards likes the idea of possibly playing for Steve Spurrier. “I haven’t had an in depth conversation with him but I hope to have one soon,” Edwards said. “Hopefully he’s there when I graduate and if I go there, he will be there. He’s a great coach and he’s turned that program up.” Edwards said the Gamecocks have a substantial lead over the rest of the teams on his offer list. That would include Clemson, Virginia Tech, Florida, Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky and Wake Forest. USC welcomed TE Jordan Giberti (6-3 225) of Gainesville, FL to campus last Saturday and it won’t be his last visit to Columbia. He’s far away from thinking about a commitment but it wouldn’t be a shock to see him make Columbia his college home one day. “I loved it,” Giberti said. “The definitely stress a family atmosphere there. The coaches are really hands on and talk to you personally. They invited 35-40 kids they are seriously looking at and it was pretty cool. I got to see the campus for the first time. I saw the stadium. It was good to get a feel for the program and the academic side as well.” Giberti has an offer from the Gamecocks and Utah and is drawing interest from Central Florida, Cincinnati, Arizona and Northwestern. “I really liked it and felt comfortable there,” he said. “At the same time, I’m not going to rush anything. I want to enjoy my senior year and the whole process and not make it too stressful and see how it plays out. South Carolina is all I know right now, the only one I’ve visited and talked to the coaches personally. I’ve only seen one school. Once I get to know other schools, I’ll get a favorite. But

I do love it up there in Columbia.” Giberti plans a return trip to Columbia this summer. He’s also expecting more offers to come in this spring when more schools get a chance to see him. It was a busy last Saturday for Goose Creek junior DE Javon Kinlaw. The day began at Clemson where he participated in the Tigers’ junior day from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. It was Kinlaw’s first visit to Clemson. On his way back to Goose Creek, Kinlaw stopped by USC and said he spent about 15 minutes with recruiter Steve Spurrier Jr. It was his third trip to the campus. “It was just me,” Kinlaw said. “I got there kind of late. He showed me around the place. It was bigger than Clemson, the facilities.” Kinlaw doesn’t have any other visits planned but he wants to get down to see Florida. He had USC and Florida tied at the top of the list but once again he has the Gamecocks out front, he says by a 60-40 margin. “They’ve pretty much been at my school a couple of weeks in a row,” he said. “They were at my basketball game and came by to see how I’m doing in school. They keep in contact. They are always around. But, I’m not rushing a decision. It’s the hardest decision of my life.” Kinlaw has offers from USC, Clemson, Florida, Alabama, Louisville, Florida State and East Carolina. Some schools view him as an offensive tackle but Kinlaw sees himself strictly as a defensive end in college. He had 50 tackles and 8 sacks last season. OL EJ Price of Lawrenceville, GA was at Clemson last Saturday. Going into the visit he had a top ten in order of Auburn, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida State, USC, Southern Cal, Clemson, Alabama, LSU and Tennessee. ATH Ahmir Mitchell of Egg Harbor City, NJ lists his top eight as USC, Ohio state,

Florida State, Rutgers, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State and Virginia Tech.” WR Diondre Overton of Greensboro, NC was at Clemson last Saturday. He picked up offers last week from USC, Tennessee and Louisville. Clemson offered OL Luke Elder (6-5 275) of LaGrange, GA. He also has a USC offer. USC offered 2017 WR Louis Dorsey of Jacksonville and 2017 QB Jake Fromm of Warner Robins, GA. USC last week offered 2018 QB Joey Gatewood of Jacksonville. He now has 8 verbal offers. USC offered RB Elijah Holyfield of Atlanta, son of the former boxing champion. OL Brett Heggie of Mount Dora, FL was offered by USC. Basketball News: The scheduled official visit to USC this past weekend by 6-10 center Levi Cook of Huntington Prep, WVwas postponed until February his coach said Saturday. Coach Arkell Bruce said USC coach Frank Martin and assistant Lamont Evans were at their game last Friday night and they want to bring Cook in possibly February 21st when the Gamecocks host Texas A&M and their basketball reunion weekend. Bruce said there is interest by both parties. “They like his style of play. He’s a big guy with a wide skill set, a back to the basket guy.” Cook is a native of Arnett, WV and he decommitted from West Virginia a month and a half ago. Along with USC, he’s looking at Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Missouri and Michigan. He’s taken unofficial visits to Virginia Tech and Pitt. “He’ll go through the process and make a decision when he feels right,” his coach said. This season Cook is averaging 9 points and 8 rebounds per game.

South Carolina athletics to host ‘Gamecocks Run’ 6K race

South Carolina Athletics media relations

The race starts at Gamecock Park next to Williams-Brice Stadium, home of Gamecock football, and continues through the “Roost” The University of South Carolina Athletics Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field, Department announced recently that it will the Carolina Tennis Center, The Dodie, the host the inaugural “Gamecocks Run” 6K run/ Rice Athletics Center and Stone Stadium, walk race on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015. The home of Gamecock soccer. The race route event, which will be held on campus in Coalso passes through and alongside exciting lumbia, will begin at 8 a.m. ET. Participants and historic campus landmarks, such as the will have the opportunity to run or walk a Cooper Library, the Moore School of Busiunique route that offers a once in a lifetime ness and the heralded Horseshoe. The finish experience in and around Gamecock Athletics line for the event is at the top of the GameFacilities. cock Block C logo inside Colonial Life Arena

at half court. “I think this is a really fun chance for our great fans to have the opportunity to experience the great facilities we have at Carolina while also supporting both basketball programs,” Gamecock Athletics Director Ray Tanner said. “We welcome the entire community to enjoy our beautiful campus.” All race participants will receive the following: • Unique 6K experience around and through the South Carolina campus and Athletics Facilities with the feel of a Gamecock gameday

• Awesome and BIG finisher’s medal • Race T-shirt • Post-race refueling options including food & drinks! • FREE ticket to Women’s Basketball vs. Mississippi State on Feb. 26 • FREE ticket to Men’s Basketball vs. Mississippi State on Feb. 28 Registration is $35 for adults (18 and over) and $15 for youth (under-18) and South Carolina students. More information on the Gamecocks Run can be found at

February 11, 2015

Spurs & Feathers • 17

Reminiscing about past for future; Leadoff Dinner a huge success

by collyn taylor Reporter

Eleven College World Series appearances, three Major League Baseball World Series championships, one MLB World Series MVP and two national titles were all under one roof the evening of Saturday, Jan. 24. The South Carolina baseball program is one of the nation’s best and the four coaches that helped create that tradition were all a part of South Carolina baseball’s Leadoff Dinner at Seawell’s. The four Gamecock coaches were Bobby Richardson, June Raines, Ray Tanner and current head coach, Chad Holbrook. Richardson and Raines combined for 984 wins and five College World Series appearances. Both came incredibly close, but neither of them won a national title. Nevertheless, they both laid the foundation for a program that would go on to win back-toback national titles. “It’s very special [to have them here],” Tanner said at the leadoff event. “When you think back about the history of Carolina baseball, you immediately think of Bobby Richardson and June Raines. They paved the way. They put the program in a position to where we could enjoy some success. In many ways, I was able to enjoy the fruits of their photo by allen sharpe labors and it’s an honor to visit with both of Left-to-right: Tanner, Raines, Richardson, Holbrook, Demetra and Moody at the Leadoff Dinner on Saturday, Jan. 24 at Seawell’s. those guys tonight.” All four coaches were honored in front of a large grouping of Gamecocks at Seawell’s season. So this is a great night to come out, ing wife with his screams. raderie of your players, it’s your coaches you who were there for the panel as well for a reminisce about things that happened in the “It was awesome,” Raines said. “It’s excitget to work with every day and it’s a wondersilent and live auction to raise money for past and to create some excitement about the ing and to win back-to-back like coach Tan- ful profession,” Tanner said. “To see them Gamecock baseball. The four coaches told future. Opening Day is right around the cor- ner did [it’s amazing]. And now, South Caro- come back and be a part of this is so much anecdotes and stories from their tenures as ner, so this is a great way to kick it off.” lina is considered one of the top programs in fun.” head coach. Richardson, who won three World Series the county.” For everyone in attendance it was an inThe South Carolina baseball radio team of championships with the Yankees and was The current South Carolina athletics ditriguing night. From getting to hear stories play-by-play voice Andy Demetra and former awarded the 1960 World Series MVP despite rector, Tanner spoke about his two College about former players and games to auctionGamecock baseball player/analyst Tommy being on the losing team, was the first coach World Series national title runs and the many ing off items with former Gamecock great Moody served as emcees for the special eve- to take the Gamecocks to a College World accomplishments of the baseball program Trey Dyson serving as the auctioneer, it truly ning. Series and he said it’s amazing to see what under his direction during his time on stage. was a night to showcase Gamecock baseball. At the end of the question and answer sesHolbrook said that they wanted to have the program has done since then. Scott Wingo, who was the 2011 CWS Most this event as close to opening day as possible “To come back and see the program years Outstanding Player, was one of many former sion, a member of the audience even got up and thanked all four coaches for their work so that the fans could reflect on some of the later and see the program is doing so well, it’s Gamecock greats across generations at the and they received a standing ovation from program’s highlights and a real thrill,” Richardson said. dinner. In addition to Wingo, some of the the crowd as another thank you for what they look forward to the upcoming Raines, who followed Gamecock greats in attendance were Grayhave done for Gamecock baseball. season. Richardson’s tenure, took the son Greiner, Brady Thomas, Joey Pankake, “They’re the backbone of the program,” “There’s a lot of people that Gamecocks to four College Brian Buscher and Michael Roth. Holbrook said of the three other Gamecock love South Carolina baseball World Series and he is still All six of the players mentioned above head coaches on the panel. “Having them and South Carolina baseball the all-time winningest coach played under Tanner and came back to help all together in one room telling stories about is important to a lot of peoat Carolina with 763 wins. out the program before the season kicks off. ple,” Holbrook said. “There He said that when he saw the Tanner said it’s amazing to have former play- Carolina baseball - it makes for an awesome night. We’re just thrilled as a baseball proare a lot of former great playGamecocks win their first ers come back and visit the program now All Gamecock baseball gram to host it and we’re more thrilled that ers, coaches and our team coverage sponsored by national title in 2010 he was so under the direction of Holbrook. is excited about the regularexcited he woke up his sleep“This is why you’re a coach. It’s the cama- our fans showed up to enjoy it with us.” DiPrato’s

18 • Spurs & Feathers

February 11, 2015

Wheat humbled to be able to give back by ed girardeau Contributing Editor Football is a way of life in the south. We celebrate every win and sweat over every loss. The importance of the University of South Carolina football team is hard to measure, but for one former player, the opportunity and the relationships developed mean everything to him. Ken Wheat grew up in Milledgeville, Ga. and attended Georgia Military High School, graduating in 1968. His senior year he received a letter from South Carolina that would change his life. “South Carolina was the first to offer me a scholarship,” Wheat remembered. “Later Georgia and Georgia Tech among others offered, but I chose Carolina. Lou Holtz was the chief recruiter. Weems Baskins and Jackie Powers both recruited me. Paul Dietzel was the head coach.” There were no recruiting trips in those days. You received a letter and made your decision. The first time the freshmen ever met was at the 1968 spring game. Wheat was one of a hundred freshmen that would report to the fall camp. “I was fourth team center on the freshman team my first day. That’s how far down the totem pole I was,” recalled Wheat. “I went along with that for a couple of days and I went up to the coach and said, ‘coach I’m not a center. I’m a defensive tackle.’ he said, ‘OK, stud we’ll try you over there.’ And that’s how it worked in those days.” By the time he was a senior in 1971, the numbers had dwindled. “We had 16 left that played,” Wheat said. Wheat graduated with a degree in Journalism, but dreamed of playing professionally and was invited to try out for the Birmingham team in the old World Football League. After going through rookie camp, he was invited back, but never made it. “I was cutting pulp wood with my uncle and cut my big toe off, so that was the end of that as the healing process was so long,” he recounted. “I came back to Columbia and got a resident managers job at River Ridge Apartments because I had no place to live. My wife saw an ad and I answered it and we got a free apartment and I was the only male who applied so they hired me. The rest is history.” Later Wheat would join the Keenan Company and met Donny Boyd. According to him, this was one of three life changing events in Wheat’s life. “The first one was getting a scholarship to Carolina. The second was marrying my high school sweetheart. Cheryl and I met

when we were 15, hung in there through college and got married 43 years ago,” Wheat reminisced. “The third was meeting Donny Boyd and him giving me an opportunity to be a partner. Not only in the company but in (real estate) deals and that was over 30 years ago.” Today he is President and Broker of Boyd Management, Inc. in Columbia. The company builds, owns and manages residential apartment complexes with 15,000 units in five states. Wheat has been a Silver Spur in the Gamecock Club for 30 years and feels that it is important for him to give back to the University for the opportunity it afforded him. “That’s why I’m here,” stated Wheat matter-of-factly. “I wouldn’t be here if not for that scholarship. Here were my choices in 1968: if I hadn’t gotten a football scholarship, it’s Vietnam. My family didn’t have the money for me to go to college. I was months away from being drafted and going to Vietnam rather than college.” The War in Vietnam strikes closely to home for the former defensive and offensive lineman. “My brother went to Vietnam, lost his

reunion at 40 years with 60 to 70 guys that came back,” recalled the 1972 USC graduate. Wheat was moved to do something more. The indoor practice facility currently being built near the stadium gave him the opportunity to recognize the whole team again. The indoor field will be named in honor of the 1969 team. “This whole deal is 45 years ago we won the ACC championship … that’s amazing. 45 years ago,” Wheat said shaking his head. “A lot of my buddies are no longer with us. Jimmy Nash, Jim Poston, Danny Dyches, all these great guys and we lost Bill Boyte and Jim Cleckler this year. I was thinking about things and I’m at that point in life where it’s time to give back. The kids are grown, the house gets paid for, and when you start losing your friends it’s an eye opener and you start thinking about the end. My goal is to get this done this year so we can have as many of the team there as possible. Not that I’m thinking anymore are going to die, but the sooner the better,” Wheat said. “It’s been 45 years. It’s a long time. And I’m glad we haven’t lost more than we have.” As for former teammates, Wheat mentioned Warren Muir, Dickie Harris, Tommy Suggs, Jimmy Mitchell, Tyler Hellams, Jim Nash, Freddie Zeigler, Rudy Holloman, photo by allen sharpe Tommy Simmons, Billy Ray Rice and Bo Davies. “The main thing is not really football. Its legs in a direct hit by a mortar, and he eventually died and he wasn’t lucky enough relationships and we went through all this together,” Wheat remarked. “The whole to get a football scholarship,” Wheat said. team will be invited back and the whole “1968-69 was the height of the Vietnam War. Thank God some coach saw me play- team made this possible. This is a legacy ing football on a Friday night and gave me so my grandkids and their grandkids can say my grandpa played on this team and a chance.” leave our team somewhere out there at that Wheat made a donation to Georgia stadium.” Military in honor of his brother Larry and Wheat has pledged $500,000 to the cause the lobby of the Ruark Athletic Center is and many of his associates and fellow named in his brother’s memory. In 1969, the University of South Carolina teammates have chipped in to the cause as went 6-0 in the ACC and won its only foot- well. Others, if so moved, can contribute ball conference championship. A year later, as well by contacting Jack Wilson with the the Gamecocks left the conference and the athletics department at 803-777-0701. They can also email Wilson at championship was tucked away and not “I’m not a rich guy, but I’ve been lucky talked about for many years. and reached a time in life that I am able In 2005, Steve Spurrier looked around and thought it should be embraced. Wheat, to do this,” Wheat humbly expressed. “I a sophomore on the 1969 team, was glad to would not be sitting here today if I had not gotten that football scholarship.” see it. And the University is better for Ken “There was a time where you didn’t hear Wheat deciding to leave the state of Geormuch about the ACC Championship, but gia and make South Carolina his home. coach Spurrier came here and started rec**Story originally featured in Spurs ognizing the team often,” Wheat said. & Feathers January digital magazine. The team’s accomplishment was disThe next Spurs & Feathers digital magaplayed prominently at Williams-Brice zine will be available at the end of this Stadium. month** “It brought us back to life. We had a big

February 11, 2015

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February 11, 2015

Upcoming Events: Gamecock Club Spartanburg Gamecock Club February Meeting When: Thursday, February 19th, 7:00PM Where: Spartanburg Downtown Marriott Convention Center Topic: Annual Recruiting wrap up, along with discussions on 2014 football season and possible changes for 2015 Guest Speaker: Chris Clark (Gamecock Central Recruiting Analyst) All Gamecock fans are welcome and Admission is FREE! York County Gamecock Club February Meeting When: Thursday, February 19th, 6:30PM Where: The Palmetto Room, 150 E. White Street, Rock Hill, S.C. Topic: Annual Recruiting wrap up where your questions concerning football will be answered Guest Speakers: Tony Morrell of The Big Spur and Wayne Hiott of the Gamecock Club Cost is $15.00 for Adults, $5.00 children under 13. This includes buffet style dinner, tea, and coffee. There will also be a cash bar. The food and program are scheduled to start around 7:15pm. If you plan on attending please respond to Chip Comer at c.comer@comerdistributing. com, or 803-324-1180 x26. They have to have a headcount to plan for food.

Darlington County Gamecock Club “An evening with Steve Spurrier” When: Wednesday, April 8th, 2015, 6:00PM Where: Hartsville Country Club, 116 Golf Course Road, Hartsville, S.C. Limited space/Advance tickets only (no tickets will be sold at door) Cost is $10 per person, which includes dinner (cash bar available) For tickets, contact Jimmy Griffin (843-3328761), Billy Fields (843-319-9590), Heritage Community Bank (843-857-4702), Sandy Gaskins (843-861-1707) and Chip Auman Law Firm (843-332-5566). Cocky and the South Carolina cheerleaders will also be there and all Gamecock fans are invited! **Current listings of known upcoming Gamecock Club events: Please contact Brian Hand ( if your upcoming event is not listed**

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Tony Morrell of 247 Sports speaking at the Florence County Gamecock Club Luncheon at Roger’s BBQ House on the 2015 football recruiting class on Thursday, Feb. 5.

The Gamecock Club remembers a member of Gamecock Nation who has recently passed away... Ray Rachel Ellis Hedrick McCarthy - Rachel was born July 1, 1938 in Columbia, SC. She graduated from Eau Claire High School in 1956. She was a member of the Gamecock Club for 49 years, cheering from the stands for five decades.


Charlotte Gamecock Club Charlotte Checkers event When: Thursday, March 5th Join fellow Gamecocks to see the Charlotte Checkers. They have tickets for $15 available. The game starts at 7 pm and all are welcome to join. They will have a pre-event gathering at 5:30 pm at a nearby location as well. Visit: promotion/home and use the promo code SEC. For questions on the link please contact, Alice Garmon, with the Checkers at 704-444-1887 or

Greenwood County Gamecock Club Steve Spurrier dinner When: Wednesday, March 18th, 6PM Where: American Legion in Greenwood The Greenwood County Gamecock Club is hosting a dinner on 3/18/2015 at 6 pm with coach Steve Spurrier. The tickets are $25 each. It will be held at the American Legion in Greenwood. There will be a silent auction with Gamecock and NFL merchandise and door prizes. There will also be a cash bar. For more information or tickets please contact Ray Lewis at 864-396-0920 or Alison Burns at 864-344-2813.

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Check out this customized Gamecock motorcycle owned by Lynn James of Lancaster, S.C.

February 11, 2015

Spurs & Feathers • 21

by brian hand Executive Editor

and official plaque commemorating her being a part of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. She also even received a special “blue light” cord resembling a siren. “Coach, we’re so proud of what you’ve done,” Lott said in closing. “Not so much with this team, but what what you do in the community, what you do with our kids and we’re glad that you’re a part of this community and we appreciate all that you do and you are now an official member of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department family.” Taken aback by the gesture, Staley immediately after receiving her badge joked, “does this come with privileges?” “Sheriff Lott has become a great friend,” Staley told those in attendance of the special recognition. “He and his family … they’ve all been tremendous to our program. I think it is a tremendous honor to represent the Sheriff’s department for all it does for so many people and making sure our communities are safe places to live and to play.”

Sheriff Staley sworn in as Richland County Honorary Deputy Sheriff

Lott made these comments in a ceremony at the Carolina Coliseum just a mere minutes after the No. 1 Gamecocks had finished a pracDawn Staley was a Hall of Famer as a player. tice in preparation for their top-25 showdown She is the head coach of the No. 1 team in the with No. 21 Georgia in Athens, Ga. on Thursnation. But, most important of all, she is an in- day, Feb. 5. credible human being. The impromptu ceremony with the media Sometimes Staley’s efforts on a personal level was held on Tuesday, Feb. 3 at the Carolina get lost in the shuffle of her past playing career Coliseum to allow Lott the chance to swear and her job, but Richland County Sheriff Leon Staley in as an Honorary Deputy Sheriff of the Lott wants everybody to know just how special Richland County Sheriff’s Department. she is behind the scenes. “Coach Staley believes in “(Today) she’s not going to people, particularly our kids, be judged by how many vicand that life’s more than just tories she has, or how many victories on a basketball gold medals she has, today court and gold medals, it’s she’s going to be judged by about helping people,” Lott the heart of gold that she has, remarked. “Same mission we particularly for kids,” Lott have at the Sheriff’s departsaid. “She does so much in ment. Our job and mission is All Gamecock basketball our community for kids that not to see how many people coverage sponsored by people just don’t even know we can go and lock up, it’s Yesterdays about.” how many people we can

photo by brian hand

Pictured is Leon Lott with Dawn Staley. help.” As part of being sworn in as an Honorary Deputy, Staley received a badge, an ID card


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February 11, 2015

Degree completion program offers student-athletes a second chance

by brad muller South Carolina Director of Content

Not every student-athlete finishes school, but now they have a chance. The University of South Carolina gives student-athletes a second chance to come back and earn that diploma through the Carolina Degree Completion Program, which is part of the Gamecock StudentAthlete Promise. “We provide funding,” said Maria Hickman, Associate Athletics Director for Academics and Student Development. “Each student is eligible for room, board, books, and tuition. They have all of the resources we offer to our undergraduate students such as tutoring, laptops, and use of the Dodie Academic Enrichment Center. Everything is available to them just like it was before they left. We’re committed to them when they get here, and we’ll always be here for them.” The degree completion program is for student-athletes who left the university in good academic standing to pursue a professional career, or did not complete their degree due to personal circumstances. The program allows those former student-athletes to apply to be readmitted to come back to campus and finish their degree. Eighteen former student-athletes have already earned their degree since the program was implemented five years ago, including former basketball player Brandon Wallace who earned his Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management degree in December after leaving school in 2007 for a professional playing career with the Boston Celtics as well as overseas. “On a personal level, I had always promised my mom (Terrie) that I would finish my degree,” Wallace said. “I definitely wanted to make good on that promise, and being that I was so close to getting my degree when I left, it was only right that I found time to come back and finish.” A program-record 12 former student-athletes are currently enrolled. The program, in essence, gives them a chance to regain their scholarship while not having to worry about practices, film sessions, workouts and other demands placed on student-athletes. Funding for the program is built into the budget and there is some funding available from the NCAA. “The returning student-athletes had to previously receive aid, but for the equivalency sports, it doesn’t matter what percentage of a scholarship they received,” Hickman said. “They didn’t have to be on a full scholarship, but when they return, their aid is determined after completing the Carolina Degree Comple-

tion application.” Perhaps the greatest achievement of the program is that it has enjoyed a 100% graduation rate for all of those who have come back to school. Leroy Dixon also earned his degree in December in criminal justice after leaving school one year shy of graduation in 2006 to pursue a professional track career. “It’s very important because student-athletes don’t always make the best choices at a young age because we can get caught up in the hype and excitement,” Dixon said. “We don’t always think about our long-term future. I’m very appreciative of the program. This means a lot to me. Nobody can ever take the degree away from me. Winning medals is great, but this allows me to do more when I’m done running.” More student-athletes are finding out about the program simply by staying in touch with former teammates and coaches, and the graduates are paying it forward by telling others as well. “Everyone I talk to that I played with, I talk to them about it,” Wallace said. “I encourage any of those guys who didn’t finish to come back and find time to take classes and finish. That degree will take you a long way because you can’t play basketball forever.” Dixon was living in Los Angeles, but he decided to come back in 2013 after sending a text to his former coach at South Carolina, Curtis Frye. “I texted him to wish him Happy Father’s Day,” Dixon said. “He wrote back and told me to call him. He said he needed me to come back and finish my degree. He told me it was important. As a mentor, he was advising me to come back and get it and told me how the university would help me get it done. It made sense because there were no track and field championships that year, and I had a year to finish. Now I’m done so I can focus on the World Championships in August and the Olympics in 2016.” Other students within a few hours of Columbia will drive back to campus two or three times per week to take their classes. “It’s quite impressive what they do,” said Al Daniel, Coordinator of Student-Athlete Development. “As they’ve gotten older, you can see more maturity in a lot of them because this is something they promised somebody they would do. So they’re just more serious when they get back into the program. They see the benefit of it now and they’re a lot more focused.” “Just to see the difference in their grades is quite something,” Hickman added. “Some of them, who perhaps didn’t take their grades as

seriously before, or were more focused on athletics when they were here, have done so much better. Some of them have 4.0 grade point averages when they come back.” Adjusting to college life without having to attend all of the team functions makes it a smooth transition for some, but others still have challenges. “The funny this is that it was a whole lot easier than I remember going the first time through,” Wallace said. “Without basketball practice and all of those other obligations, it was pretty easy. A lot had changed on campus. The Dodie (Academic Enrichment Center) was amazing. Going from a 22 year old student to a 29 year old student, my priorities were definitely more in line this time.” “It was probably one of the hardest things I had to do,” Dixon said. “It humbled me and taught me that nobody is better than anyone else. It taught me how to be more self-sufficient. There is a lot more training at the professional level, so I still had to do that and go to

class. There were moments where I wanted to give up, but with the help of Al Daniel and Maria Hickman and everyone around the Dodie, they gave me the energy to want to finish.” Wallace and Dixon enjoyed athletics success after leaving South Carolina, but they now also have the satisfaction of finishing what they started. “Graduation was an awesome day,” Wallace said. “I got to see my mom smile. Any time you can make good on a promise to your parents, it’s amazing. My whole family was there to see it: mom, dad, and my two boys. My kids aren’t old enough to understand now, but once they get to that age, I can show them what’s possible. I rank getting my degree right up there at the top with my athletic accomplishments. The ring that you get from the Athletics Department when you graduate is one of the most prized possessions beyond any state championship or NIT championships I had in basketball. This is the most valuable one I have.”

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February 11, 2015

It takes time, patience and support to build a winner not made to justify mediocrity, but rather to explain that the hope is it is just a bump in the road in the road back to greatness All coaches talk about the process, stay- and hopefully a championship in the next ing in the moment and/or changing a culfew years. ture. “Last year, at this time, I was here talkWhen coaches say they are not worried ing about an 18-game home win streak, about winning or losing games it is usually No. 4 finish in the nation and our third met with condescending thoughts or mis11-win season. Not talking about that this understanding from the public. year,” Spurrier said. “We had a tough Head coaches in Division I college year. We didn’t do our part as players and athletics have to understand better than coaches. The students, alumni and fans, anyone that there is a bigger goal than you did your part, screaming and yelling winning games. It’s not that they do not and we appreciate what you did. want to win the games. In fact, the coaches “Our commitment to you is we’re going obviously understand the concept more to do better this (upcoming) year. We have than anyone as their livelihood and what approximately 30 new players, we’ve got people think about them is tied to winning a recruiting class that we think is one of and losing. the best we’ve ever had. Four years from They get that. now we’re going to find out, but we’ve got It’s the gig and one of the reasons head lots of really good players joining with the coaches in the Power Five conferences returning players for next year, so we’re make so much money is because they have fired up about that right now,” Spurrier to handle the pressures and expectations of continued. what a win and a loss means. They have to South Carolina athletics director and take the heat in our win-now society. two-time national championship-winning Martin particularly understands the chal- baseball head coach Ray Tanner is no lenges. stranger in what it takes to build and sus“(When) you give them (the team) your tain a winner. He also knows that it’s hard emotion, your money and your time it sometimes to stay focused on the end goal hurts you when your team doesn’t play when things are not perfect. the way you want them to play,” Martin “I know that record-wise, you look at our articulated to Spurs & Feathers last year. football program and say it was a six-and“So I get that part. Fans that are right now six year coming off three eleven-win seasitting back and they’re still not ready to sons and now we won our bowl game so jump on board, I get it. We got a great we finish up seven-and-six,” Tanner told number that are. I have an unbelievable Spurs & Feathers in early January. “But, responsibility to this school and those fans we had some opportunities to win some to make sure this program is built and other games. For me, it’s not necessarily built for the long haul … at the end of the the fact that we finished seven-and-six, but day our business does not work if it’s not we had the opportunities to win some othfor fans. It’s our jobs to make them proud er games and that makes a big difference to be a part of what we’re doing.” to me that we had the opportunity to win. Martin like all the other Gamecock head It wasn’t the case where we couldn’t have coaches knows that in the moment there won any more games; we just had a few are going to be ups and downs, especially bounces this year and couldn’t get them. after a culture has changed. “I consider the football team a success. Just look at Gamecock football. After Perception-wise it doesn’t seem as good as back-to-back-to-back 11-win seasons, the 11 wins, but you look back at what they’ve 2014 South Carolina football campaign done over the last four years—not only the was not the season anyone expected. Steve 11 wins, but four straight bowl wins over Spurrier and his coaching staff readily un- the likes of Miami, Nebraska, Michigan derstand that. and Wisconsin. It doesn’t Spurrier knows that get much better than that,” South Carolina’s 2014 Tanner elaborated. season will not go down as For longtime Gamecock one of those great seasons, men’s basketball fans all but nevertheless it was a one needs to do is look at winning season. famed head coach Frank “7-6 is a winner,” SpurMcGuire. In McGuire’s rier said to the media on first two seasons at the All Gamecock basketball Saturday, Jan. 24. “Not a helm of the Gamecocks, coverage sponsored by big winner, but a winner.” South Carolina only won Yesterdays The HBC’s thoughts are six ACC games. Just a

photo by allen sharpe

few short years later the Gamecocks were ranked No. 1 in the country. South Carolina under McGuire won the ACC Tournament in 1971. You can also look at where South Carolina women’s basketball is now under Dawn Staley. In her first two seasons, the Gamecocks won a total of nine SEC games. Last year, South Carolina won its first SEC regular-season title and the Gamecocks were a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Right now, South Carolina women’s basketball is in its 12th consecutive week as the No. 1 team in the country. One can even look outside of Gamecock country to another coach in Mike Krzyzewski. In Coach K’s first three seasons, Duke won just 13 ACC games. The Blue Devils were 11-17 overall and 3-11 in the ACC in his third season at the helm of the program. The rest is history as the fourtime national championship-winning head coach picked up his 1,000th win recently. Frank Martin took over the South Carolina men’s basketball program knowing that it was going to be tough to change the culture. He just didn’t have the players they needed yet. Right now, the Gamecocks have a strong grouping of players, but not enough depth. That is wreaking havoc on the conference schedule so far for the Gamecocks and even he would tell you it’s tough to swallow. Martin and the Gamecocks want to win. Now. Average is not what Martin or any Gamecock head coach under Tanner is about, so South Carolina sitting at 11-10 on the year and 2-7 in league play as of Feb. 6 is unac-

ceptable and the Gamecock coaching staff would tell you that. Despite this, it’s part of the continued growth of the program under Martin. Just look at Jan. 28 alone. Right before the start of South Carolina’s eventual heartbreaking road loss to LSU that evening prized Gamecock recruit PJ Dozier was named a McDonald’s All-American. Dozier is only the fourth Gamecock to garner the prestigious accolade in program history and the first since 2000. That’s a culture-changing recruit. Couple Dozier with Chris Silva and the Gamecocks have two top-100 recruits already signed for next year with most recruiting services listing the class as a top25 class. That’s progress. Add those two into the mix - and maybe more later - to a program that only has one senior right now and that’s depth. Martin and the Gamecocks played their best basketball last year at the end of the year. This year, they have already won seven straight at one point and beat Clemson, Oklahoma State and a top-10 Iowa State team. They just haven’t gotten it completely going so far in league play, but with four of their six league losses coming by six points or less who’s to say the switch might not turn on down the stretch again this year? That’s what they’re hoping for just like you. It’s all part of the process. None of this is to say that Martin will take South Carolina to national titles, No. 1 rankings or even SEC titles, but who knows? The background is there. Martin has been the head coach of an Elite Eight team. He knows what it takes. Just give it time and let’s see how it all plays out together.

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24 • Spurs & Feathers

February 11, 2015

Arendas ready to help lead the Gamecocks

by collyn taylor Reporter

feels that it will be his play that helps the Gamecocks out in the upcoming year. “I just want to serve these guys on a daily baUsually a baseball team has one or two sesis,” he said. “I don’t think it’s anything where I niors that lead the team, but for the 2015 Game- say, ‘follow me.’ I just want to serve these guys cock team they have five of them. on a daily basis and do what it takes to get betAnd they also have five juniors that played ter.” significant innings last season. Among those Head coach Chad Holbrook said that with so juniors is infielder DC Arendas. much talent on the field some players are going Arendas, who started 50 games last season, is to have to become versatile in playing different back for his third season at Carolina Stadium. positions if they want playing time. He had a stellar fielding percentage in his That’s nothing new to Arendas who has sophomore season, boasting a .973 percentage been a mainstay in the Gamecock infield. He’s and only six errors. He was a force at the plate clocked in at second base, third base and shortas well, hitting .271 with 29 RBIs and 32 runs stop and says that his role this year is something scored. that isn’t completely set yet. He said now that he’s got more playing time “I think it’s something that’s going to change under his belt, he and the other experienced on a daily basis,” Arendas said. “[It’s] coming to players are ready to help lead the team. the field every day thinking about how to help “You usually gravitate to your senior leaders, the team win. So wherever [Holbrook] puts us, but there are several underclassmen that played I’m going to be fine with that.” big roles for us last year down the stretch,” With opening day less than a week away, it’s Arendas said. “I think that experience helped not a question of if Arendas starts per se, it’s everyone. It’ll be a team effort.” where. He said that it doesn’t matter, that he and He mentioned that he’s been working hard this the team are just trying to “get into midseason offseason, saying he was hungry to get better form as soon as possible.” for the season. Not a true vocal leader, Arendas They will need that when they host College of

Charleston on opening day. The Cougars were “We know College of Charleston is a good a super regional team last year and Arendas team and we know we’re going to have to play knows that it’s a challenge that the team is ready our best to start off the season,” Arendas said. for. “It’s exciting for us.”

Gamecocks expecting big year from Max Schrock by kyle heck Reporter Max Schrock didn’t provide local pizza restaurants with a lot of business this past summer, a change from years past. Looking to shed some weight, the junior second baseman went to a diet during the offseason and was careful about what he put into his body. The result? This past fall, Schrock came into practice 20-25 pounds lighter. “He looks different in a uniform,” said head coach Chad Holbrook. “He’s more agile, he’s quicker and he is faster. He worked extremely hard in the offseason, his rehab was extremely intense in the summer, but he also dieted very hard. I think he cut out the late-night pizza and maybe some other things as well.” Holbrook said that the lighter version of Schrock will not only help him be a better overall player, but will also improve his fielding abilities, something

photos by allen sharpe

that Schrock noticed right off the bat. “I came back this fall and felt completely different,” Schrock said. “My first step was quicker. I was getting to some balls that I wasn’t getting to last year.” Perhaps the most important result both Schrock and Holbrook are hoping for from the weight loss is a reduction in the amount of injuries

suffered, something that has been a problem for the Chapel Hill, N.C. native over his first two years. Even still, Schrock still garnered secondteam Freshman All-America honors his first year on campus and hit .299 to go with 26 runs scored, five home runs and 20 RBIs in 35 games a season ago. Schrock said that from around the

20th game of the season last year he same way he hopes his teammates play. was hampered by injuries. If he is “I don’t know that I’m going to try talented enough to still produce like he and do something amazing,” Schrock did even while hurt, imagine what he said. “Everybody just needs to stay could do given an injury-free year. within themselves. That’s a big part “I think Max is one of the best play- of this team. Just staying within ourers in the country,” Holbrook said. “I selves and playing to our capabilities don’t think our fans and the media and not trying to do anything too have been able to see him perform at spectacular.” the level he is capable of on a consisSchrock said he could tell that the tent basis. We’ve all seen flashes but “switch had been turned on” when he he’s been hurt. He’s been banged up.” came back from winter break. EveryThe year got off to a good start in the one is ready for another opportunity fall, when Schrock to prove they can live played without any setup to the lofty expectabacks and that has contions. However, if South tinued so far in spring Carolina wants to make workouts. Now an upit past the NCAA Reperclassman, Schrock gionals this season, they considers himself one are going to need everyof the veterans and All Gamecock baseball thing they can get from leaders of the team. coverage sponsored by Schrock. DiPrato’s While he’s not a vocal “Baseball is a hard leader, he said he leads game but Max has a by example. He knows there is a lot of chance to be a very special player and expectation for him to have a big year, we expect him to have a big year,” but will try and not do too much, the Holbrook said.

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February 11, 2015

Burnett staying true to roots while moving up LPGA ladder by kyle heck Reporter

A couple of years removed from an outstanding career at South Carolina, Katie Burnett has now established herself at the professional level. In her first two years on the LPGA tour, Burnett has already shown she can be a threat, claiming a top-100 finish on the money list in both seasons. In her first full LPGA season in 2014, Burnett recorded her first top-10 finish in Hawaii at the Lotte Championship. It didn’t take long for her to transition from college to the professional game. She qualified for the tour on her first attempt, finishing 25th at the final LPGA Qualifying Tournament in 2012. That followed a brilliant career for the Gamecocks, where she starred for four years. As a freshman in 2008, the Brunswick, Ga. native recorded the best scoring average for a freshman in school history. That was only the start, as she went on to break South Carolina’s all-time scoring record while being named the team’s MVP three of her four seasons. She capped her career in 2012 with a second-team AllAmerica selection.

Burnett enters her third LPGA season ranked 184th in the world in the Rolex Rankings and is looking to do big things. She recently began seeing a sports psychologist to further complement her game and says that has helped her out tremendously. “I finally feel like I have all the things I feel like I need to have a really great season,” Burnett said. As she rises through the ranks at the professional level, she hasn’t forgotten her small-town Georgia roots. When she was growing up, she was one of the few girls who was serious about golf. She played in her first tournament at the age of 12 without ever seeing another girl even hit a golf ball. However, as she looks at her hometown now, she sees more and more girls taking up golf and Burnett wants to help those girls in any way possible. “I think it’s really important for girls to have a role model and somebody to look up to that’s not much older than them and from the same town,” Burnett said. “I’m from a really small town so it’s been fortunate for people from a small town with workingclass families like myself to know that you can do it and you can make it as long as you work hard.”

Shortly after her LPGA season ended in October, Burnett returned home to host a golf clinic for juniors in the area. It was a booming success and Burnett found out that she absolutely loved helping out the young kids. She stayed in contact with a lot of the girls and the interactions go further than just golf, as Burnett has even talked to one of them about her boyfriend. “I had so much fun doing that clinic,” Burnett said. “I think sometimes they think I don’t enjoy it, but I enjoy it just as much as they do and I might even get more out of it than they do. This means a lot to me to help people in general.” Burnett enjoyed the clinic so much that her and her agent, Meredith Taylor, decided to invite the girls that attended the clinic down to Florida for the first LPGA event of the 2015 season. Burnett gave all of the girls tickets, introduced them to some of her friends on the tour and took them all out to dinner. “I feel like that would have been something that would have really inspired me as a kid and the girls, we’ve gotten so much good feedback from it,” Burnett said. “They’re so excited. I’ve gotten a lot of emails from their parents. But they’re helping me out just as much as they think I’m helping them out.”

Photo by Tristan Jones

Burnett had a busy offseason, going from her clinic in Georgia to a Safari in South Africa and all the way out to Hawaii to spend time with her brother, who’s in the Navy, and his family. She starts this LPGA season looking to further prove that a small-town Georgia girl can do big things. “Always the goal is to win,” Burnett said.


26 • Spurs & Feathers

February 11, 2015

Widener unfazed by role uncertainty: ‘I just like to play’ by Brian Hand Executive Editor

photo by allen sharpe

Rejuvenated Bright excited for prospects of upcoming season by Kyle heck Reporter

ever since he stepped on campus. He started best players are in the lineup. He came to 22 games and played in 32 overall his fresh- South Carolina as a highly-rated shortstop man season before starting 49 games and before moving to right field two years ago. While some of his teammates stayed playing in 52 as a sophomore, his first year “That’s why I’m here, you know, to help around South Carolina last summer and as an everyday player. the younger guys and build the program and played summer league ball or trained, ConHead coach Chad Holbrook pointed out build our team as best I can,” Bright said. nor Bright got away. that South Carolina players tend to have That also involves picking up the slack The former Wando High star took a 14their best years as a senior and expects the for departed players like Grayson Greiner day trip to Europe to visit Scotland, Engsame out of Bright. and Joey Pankake, people who had a treland and Wales. In Scotland, he was able “I feel good about him. His workouts have mendous impact on South Carolina baseball to play golf at the oldest golf course in the been very impressive,” Holbrook said. “He over the last three years. world at St. Andrews before weaving his did hit over .300 last year and had some big However, Bright feels he is up to the chalway to London to finish out his trip. It was hits for us and he’s a senior and typically lenge and is confident that he and the rest Bright’s first trip across the pond and a nice around here seniors tend to of the team can step up and relief from baseball. have their best years and I have a big season. Plagued by nagging injuries toward the would expect Connor to do “Those guys were great end of last season, Bright still managed to that. He’s been very imporand I think it’s going to be put together an impressive campaign during tant to us the last couple years hard to replace them, but I his junior year. He racked up 50 hits in 44 and he’s very important to us think we have some guys games while hitting .311 to go along with this year.” that came in and some guys 25 runs scored and 24 RBIs. Because he is one of the old- All Gamecock baseball that have been here that Now entering his senior year, Bright feels er guys on the team, Bright coverage sponsored by can fill those roles and be refreshed and ready to go. has made it a point to try and successful for us this year,” DiPrato’s “(The trip) seemed to help out a lot honget to know the other outfieldBright said. “We all mesh estly,” Bright said. “I came back fresh and ers so he can help them out in together really well, we all I’m ready to get started now at 100 perwhatever way is needed. He can also relate work hard, so yeah, our goal is definitely cent.” to some of the infielders that may move out Omaha and we’re going to do everything The senior has played an important role to the outfield this season to make sure the we can to get there.”

South Carolina sophomore pitcher Taylor Widener may not know whether he is going to be a starter, the closer or even a mid-relief guy coming into the season, but he does know one thing: “I’m here to play.” “I’m ready for anything,” Widener elaborated. “If they tell me I’m going to be a starter, a closer, mid-relief, I’m ready for everything. I just have to be ready. I can’t really think about a certain role. I’ve just got to know that whatever they tell me I’m going to do, I’ve just got to go out there and do out to the best of my ability.” The South Aiken High School product came to South Carolina as one of the top recruits in the state and the nation, particularly since he was just as strong on the mound as he was hitting and in the field. In his first action as a Gamecock last season, Widener was utilized on the mound and as a position player. On the hill, Widener finished with a 3-0 record in 40.1 innings pitched. He owned a 1.79 ERA. Widener almost had as many strikeouts as innings pitched, concluding the season with 38 strikeouts. The left-handed hitter didn’t fare as well at the dish, ending the year hitting .191 (9-for-47) in 18 games played, which included 12 starts. He scored six runs last year for the Gamecocks. His prowess on the mound last year compared to his hitting has him expecting to maybe not hit as much this year, but once again he’s up for whatever. “I’m not exactly positive how much I’m going to hit this year,” Widener, who admits he probably wasn’t as ready for college pitching as he should have been last year, stated. “I’m still working at hitting and we’ll just see how it goes.” Widener concedes though that when deciding to come to South Carolina he somewhat knew he would be on the hill more than at the dish. “I kind of figured I would end up pitching more, but we’ll see how it plays out,” Widener said. South Carolina head baseball coach Chad Holbrook said at his press conference on the opening day of spring practice that Widener is more than likely the favorite for the closer spot, but he still could also be the third weekend starter for the Gamecocks. According to the right-handed pitcher, the uncertainty doesn’t faze him in any way. “I’m open for anything. I just like to play. I’m excited,” Widener said.

Spurs & Feathers • 27

February 11, 2015

Gamecock greats happy to help program at Leadoff Dinner

by collyn taylor Reporter

as a student assistant coach for the team and was a big player in those title runs. But, Wingo said that the things he rememLooking around Seawell’s they definitely bers most is cutting up and talking with his stood out. They posed for pictures with fans teammates as well as their unprecedented and shook the hands of every one that came 2010 title run. up to them, all while telling stories of their “Shoot, going from my freshman year to time as a Gamecock. my senior year there were ups and downs, Grayson Greiner, Michael Roth, Joey Pan- but it was hard work and when it was all said kake and Scott Wingo among a host of othand done it was some of the greatest four ers were some of the Gamecock greats that years of my life,” Wingo said. came home to honor former coaches and the Greiner and Pankake didn’t leave South current coaching staff at the South Carolina Carolina with a national title, but they defibaseball Leadoff Dinner on Saturday, Jan. nitely didn’t leave empty handed. 24 at Seawell’s. An All-American last season, Greiner said Two of the players, Roth and Wingo, were that wouldn’t have been possible without the a part of the Gamecock teams that won help of Tanner and Holbrook. Those two, back-to-back national titles. Roth came back he said, helped him get to where he is as a to support the program before heading out to catcher in the Detroit Tigers organization. spring training with the Cleve“It’s been the best three land Indians. years of my life so far. I “It’s important for former wish I could rewind to players to still be involved in freshman year, but I can’t,” the program and support the Greiner said. “I wouldn’t be program,” Roth said. “I know where I am without coach how great of a coach Tanner Tanner and coach Holand Holbrook are and it’s just brook.” good to be back and remiPankake, an All-SEC deAll Gamecock baseball nisce.” coverage sponsored by fensive team choice last year Wingo has now come back and currently in the Tigers DiPrato’s

photo by jenny dilworth

Joey Pankake interviews Grayson Greiner (left) for WACH Fox at Leadoff Dinner. organization with Greiner, came home to visit people that he hadn’t gotten to see in a while and to visit the place that he called home. “I miss it already,” Pankake said. “I’m going to miss playing at Carolina Stadium, but I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given and I’m trying to make the most of it.” And the sentiment that Pankake had was echoed by all of the players at the Leadoff

Dinner: South Carolina is home. All four said they had some of their best years at Carolina Stadium. They came back because of those great times and because they get to relive those memories. “South Carolina’s home for me and it’s always great to come home. When I get to see friends, family and be around the Gamecocks it’s always fun to be back here,” Roth said. “I’m enjoying my time here.”


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28 • Spurs & Feathers

February 11, 2015

Waddell is a trailblazer in ever-changing landscape of athletics by brad muller South Carolina Director of Content

Charles Waddell has seen a lot of changes in intercollegiate athletics since his days as a three-sport star at the University of North Carolina more than 40 years ago. Now the Deputy Athletics Director at South Carolina, Waddell recognizes some of the barriers in the past for African-Americans to reach such prominent positions, but he never had any doubt that he would succeed and has been honored as a trailblazer for what he’s done in his professional life. “I always wanted to achieve,” Waddell said. “I never thought about failing. You set goals and you do what you have to do to get there. I wanted to be a professional athlete, and I had that opportunity. I had some injuries so I didn’t achieve all of the goals I wanted to achieve there. Emotionally,that took a while to get over.” Waddell came to South Carolina in 2006 with an impressive resume and accolades to match. He could have starred in the 1970s version of the “Bo Knows” commercials after lettering in football, basketball and track and field for the Tar Heels, graduating in 1975. He currently serves as the administrator for football and women’s basketball, and he also oversees South Carolina’s Sports Medicine program and the Strength and Conditioning program. Waddell received The Patterson Medal as a senior at UNC, which is the highest athletic award at the school. He earned All-ACC honors and All-American honors in football, eventually playing in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks and San Diego Chargers. Despite his success, being a student-athlete in the early 1970s, Waddell witnessed prejudice first hand. “I was called a few names at a couple of different places,” Waddell said. “One year, because of some injuries, I was the only African-American on the basketball team. Coming out of football season, I wasn’t getting a lot of playing time. At one game, a lot of football players from the opposing team sat behind our bench and said some things they shouldn’t have said. Even on campus, you had a little bit of racism and also some prejudice against athletes. So you had to fight both of those. Some perceived that you weren’t capable of performing like a regular student just because you were an athlete.” Waddell has seen plenty of changes for African-Americans working in college athletics, and he likes to focus on the individual. “It’s a different focus now,” Waddell said. “There has to be a good fit with any job. People hire people they are comfortable with. We are products of our environment and upbringing. It’s getting better. It’s much better than it used to be. In time, it will continue to get better. My kids look at things differently than I do. My grandkids are going to look at things totally differently. I don’t think that people are not going to hire me because I’m black. They might hire `Joe’ because they have more of a comfort level

with him. I have a good resume, but it may not be a perfect fit for the job I am focused on.” Prior to coming to South Carolina he was the Vice Chancellor of Advancement at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. He also spent nearly a decade as the Director of Marketing and Sponsorships for Richardson Sports in Charlotte, North Carolina, and was responsible for marketing and corporate sponsorships for the Carolina Panthers. He had previously served as Assistant Commissioner for the Big Ten Conference. Now he enjoys working with Athletics Director Ray Tanner and other senior administrators to help every program be successful. “My goal is to provide student-athletes and coaches the resources and everything they need to be successful and to achieve their goals,” Waddell said. “Our main focus is to support the student-athletes. I tell them that I work for them, and the main goal is for them to get a degree. One of the first things we did since I’ve been here, from a facilities standpoint, was to build the Dodie Academic Enrichment Center. It affects every student-athlete in every program. It solidifies what our responsibility is to them and to their parents.” His perspective as a former student-athlete can have an impact on his job as he understands the needs of the different programs. “Football and basketball are perceived as the `haves’ when it comes to college teams,” Waddell said. “But I was also on the track and field team where we hopped on buses for all of our trips. At some opposing schools, we sometimes stayed in dorms instead of hotels.” With hot button topics such as cost of attendance shaping the landscape of college athletics, Waddell is not surprised that the financial side of things is a growing concern. “College athletics has always been big business,” Waddell said. “It’s really big business now. The model of fairness and trying to treat

all the student-athletes the same is a challenge. Even in high school, revenue is generated by football and basketball.” When asked if he could go back and change anything in college athletics, Waddell responded, “One of the major differences between intercollegiate sports then and now is the time commitment placed on today’s student-athletes. If I could move things back a bit, I would like to see kids have a little more free time just to be a college student and enjoy life on a college campus. When I was in college, we always enjoyed the time after spring football practice was over. We sort of got a break. We could walk on campus without having to worry about being someplace. You could go to a concert on campus or just go enjoy college life as a regular student for a little bit. These kids today, the only downtime they have, let’s say for football, is in the month of May. I went to summer school, but most didn’t back then. They would go to work so they could have a little spending money during the year. Now many student-athletes attend both summer sessions. It’s constant activity.” As he works with student-athletes, he is aware of how much more exposure there is for young people today. “I grew up playing three sports in high school and that was a goal of mine going into college,” Waddell said. “Kids specialize now. They feel that it’s required. AAU wasn’t as big as it is now. I coached AAU basketball for a time. Now coaches start recruiting kids at nine and ten years old, so the kids you get at 18 have already been recruited for 8-10 years by the time they get to college. It’s much more advanced now.” In January of this year, Waddell received UNC’s Tar Heel Trailblazer Award, which recognizes individuals who paved the way for success in all aspects of the student-athlete experience. While he is somewhat shy about being per-

ceived as a role model, he understands the significance of his position. “More than twenty years ago, I wrote a letter to the editor at USA Today about role models,” Waddell recalled. “What I said was that everybody doesn’t choose to be a role model, and everybody is not prepared to be a role model. I was talking about how Michael Jordan was a role model to a lot of kids. He valued it, and I think he understood what his responsibility was by being in the limelight at that level. There are also people up at that level who kids look up to all the time, but they’re really not prepared or willing to do the things necessary to be a role model. People are watching, so it’s a responsibility.” Waddell noted that he has plenty of mentors, but his greatest role model is his father, Frank, who didn’t have a high school education. He was raised on a farm where all the boys had to work every day. “When I was about 12 years old, my dad went back to school to improve his reading and writing,” Waddell said. “He worked a couple of janitorial jobs, was a deacon in the church, and he was well-respected. This was prior to integration, so it was to his credit that my brother and I felt like we were being raised in a middle-class household.” Waddell thoroughly enjoys getting up and coming to the office every day at South Carolina because of the people with whom he works and the student-athletes he serves. That’s not to say he won’t have his eyes open if the right opportunity came knocking. “I wanted to be an athletics director,” Wadded said. “I haven’t achieved that yet, but my time’s not over yet. I’m enjoying the ride - where I have been, and where I am currently. I could have been an A.D. somewhere if I wanted to be. I would have had to take some different steps, maybe at a smaller school and work the process, but I still like the path that I’ve taken.”

Spurs & Feathers • 29

February 11, 2015

Passion for Gamecocks evident at Lexington County Kickoff Event by Kyle heck Reporter

all of those in attendance for their unwavering support of his program before talking about this There aren’t many places better suited to host a year’s team and how practice was going. He also South Carolina baseball kickoff event than Lex- reminisced about the championship teams from ington, S.C. The city is a place rich with baseball 2010 and 2011 and told one of his favorite Ray tradition and is the hometown of four of the play- Tanner stories. It occurred after the Gamecocks ers currently on the Gamecocks roster. lost the opening series against East Carolina in So it was no surprise that the Country Club of the 2010 season. Once the team arrived back in Lexington was jampacked with fans and Game- Columbia, Tanner went up to each player, onecock Club members on Tuesday, Jan. 27 waiting by-one, and let them know how unhappy he was to hear what South Carolina head coach Chad with their performance that weekend. Then, to Holbrook and his assistant coaches had to say further prove his point, he kicked a trash can on less than three weeks until Opening Day. his way out the door. “Lexington has a rich tradition going back “He just gave it the best kick known to man,” many years and we’ve got a lot of former South Holbrook said. “And then he had to turn left to Carolina players that came from Lexington,” go down the hallway to his office and as he was said Lexington County Gamecock Club presiwalking, I think he kicked it too hard, he started dent Steve Gunter. “We have a passion for base- limping. I was laughing so hard, I had to turn ball and we’re very committed over here.” away. But that got us going and lo and behold Preceding the appearances by the South Caro- that team went on to win the national championlina coaches, there was a country-style buffet ship.” dinner, a raffle and a lot of conversation among Assistant coaches Jerry Meyers and Sammy the sellout crowd of nearly 200, all of whom Esposito also went up to talk baseball. Meyers were excited that baseball season was starting talked about the pitching staff while Esposito foback up. Board member Robbin Moss, one of cused on catchers and recruiting. Both also said the main volunteers in charge of planning the they or the team would not be where they are kickoff event, said they are considering moving now without the support of the fans and donors. the event to a bigger venue in the future in order “From a recruiting standpoint, one of the best to accommodate everyone who wants to go. things that helps us out is you guys,” Esposito Moss was excited to see so many people come said. “When we get to tell kids that there are out and support the Gamecock baseball team over 6,000 season tickets sold, they look at us and says that many fans have a special conneclike we’re crazy because they go to all these othtion with the coaches and players. er schools and great programs, and no one can “It’s always good to have our team filled with tell them they sold 6,000 season tickets. There’s players from our state,” Moss said. “With the only three or four other places in the country that Lexington people, a lot of these guys saw the can say that.” players grow up. They saw them play little To conclude the evening, Holbrook returned to league and they may have coached them. So to the podium to answer some questions from the see them go through that phase of their life and crowd and gave his most memorable moment finally make it to the big dance - because our sta- from the first championship team in 2010. It dium is truly the big dance - is really great. It’s was one that many of those in attendance could that connection that you just don’t lose.” relate to. After everyone’s bellies were full and the raffle “I’ll never forget the celebration,” Holbrook was finished, Gunter stepped up to the podium said. “Running into the stands and seeing my and thanked everyone who played a part in family and seeing die-hard Gamecocks, who organizing the kickoff and played a role in help- had had some very great wins, but also some ing the club be named the 2014 Gamecock Club very difficult losses. To see their reactions and chapter of the year. The club also see tears flowing from 65 and commemorated Herb Sharpe, 70-year-old men, that’s somea former president of both the thing that stuck in my mind that Gamecock Club and Lexington I will never forget.” County Gamecock Club who Gunter and many other passed away in April of last Gamecock fans are ready for year, by presenting his wife, this season to start to see if they Catherine, with a plaque. can duplicate those fond memoAll Gamecock baseball After that, it was time for ries from a few years ago. coverage sponsored by coach Holbrook to take the “We’re hearing about baseball DiPrato’s stage. He began by thanking all year long so when it finally

photo by kyle heck

South Carolina associate head coach Jerry Meyers (with head coach Chad Holbrook in the background on left) talking to the Lexington County Gamecock Club on Jan. 27. comes we’re just like kids on our way to the playground; we’re ready to get out and start playing in the sandbox,” Gunter said. For those that are interested, the Lexington County Gamecock Club will hold its fifth annual Junior Gamecock Club Cookout on May 15,

during the last home series of the year against LSU. It is a chance for young gamecock fans to gather together before the game and enjoy great food and fun games. For more information, email or call Robbin Moss at 803-606-8872.

30 • Spurs & Feathers

I probably owe you an explanation. See, I grew up in a family of math majors. My Mom was a math teacher. My Dad majored in math. My brother analyzes stocks and makes up algorithms for a living. I am what my family would call a statistical outlier. I don’t have any of their natural math intellect, but I do have a fascination with numbers as they relate to my job. Hence my devotion to advanced statistics on our broadcasts of South Carolina basketball on the Gamecock IMG Sports Network. If you’ve listened to us over the last few seasons, you’ve probably heard me reference all sorts of odd, Andy Demetra arcane stats. Contributing The motivation Writer is simple. As a broadcaster, I not only want to describe the action, I want to put that action into context. If I can give a number that helps you better understand the matchup, then I feel I’ve done my job. That’s why I go on a vision quest each game for cool, insightful, occasionally wonky stats. And with SEC play at the halfway mark, I figured it’d be a good time to explain some of my favorite “specialty stats,” and why the traditional basketball box score may be getting outdated. A note before we get started: most of

February 11, 2015

these statistics are based on the concept of efficiency. A team’s pace is taken out; its numbers are instead evaluated on a perpossession basis. Try some of these “tempo-free” statistics on for size:

measure of how often a team gets to the free-throw line relative to how often it attempts to shoot. When Georgia attacked the rim relentlessly during the second half of its game against South Carolina Jan. 31, it wasn’t breaking news - the Bulldogs ranked third in the nation in free throw rate (51.6%). It also explains why Georgia is a perennially thorny matchup for South Carolina. The Gamecocks usually rank near the bottom of the SEC in free throw rate defense.

Pomeroy, the godfather of college basketball’s advanced stats movement. Effective height is the average height of a team’s forwards, weighted by minutes played. Average height takes everyone into account.

When Tennessee came to Colonial Life Arena last month, I felt bullish about the Gamecocks’ chances. Why? Tennessee’s average height ranked 32nd in the nation, but its effective height ranked 215th. In other words, the Vols didn’t have much difference between their guard and for• Three-Point Rate (3pt. FGA). A ward size. I only found two other teams cousin of free throw rate, three-point rate in major-college basketball with a similar measures the percentage of a team’s shots disparity: Marshall and Iowa State. The that come from outside the arc. Gamecocks, of course, beat them both (and South Carolina, in spite of its 2-7 SEC renearly beat Tennessee with a last-minute cord, ranks 10th in the nation in defensive That made Alabama one of the more uncomeback). efficiency, allowing 89.5 points per 100 orthodox teams the Gamecocks faced this Once you dive into tempo-free statistics, possessions. That’s why the Gamecocks year. When they met Jan. 19, the Crimson you start to realize how impractical some have such a reputation as a tough “out” in Tide were the only team in major-college of the more traditional box score metrics the SEC. basketball that ranked in the top 50 nation- are. What’s easier to understand: that a ally in both free throw rate and three-point team commits 13 turnovers per game, or • Offensive rebounding percentage rate. Usually teams that roam the threethat it turns the ball over on 20% of its pos(OR%). Don’t pay attention to the number point line rarely draw fouls. Alabama sessions? In many ways, tempo-free statisof offensive rebounds a team grabs per bucked that logic. It was useful informatics give better context – and as broadcastgame. A team may play at a fast pace. Or tion, and it gave our listeners a better sense ers, that’s what we’re constantly searching it may not be able to shoot straight. Either of how the Crimson Tide operate. for. way, they naturally avail themselves to I’m careful not to saturate our broadcasts more offensive rebounding opportunities. • Fouls Drawn Per 40 Minute. Simple, with too many advanced stats - after all, self-explanatory and not nearly mainstream you’re here to listen to a basketball game, Instead, look at the percentage of a team’s enough. Vanderbilt forward Damian Jones not a math lecture. But the game is evolvmissed shots on which it grabs an offensive is a handful enough with his 15 points and ing; so are the numbers behind them. I rebound. This year, the Gamecocks rank 7 rebounds per game. When you learn enjoy parsing out numbers, seeing how fourth in the SEC in offensive rebounding that he ranks 23rd nationally, averaging 7.0 teams stack up nationally, and making conpercentage, getting a board on 35.5% of fouls drawn per 40 minutes, you know the nections that might not be obvious to the their missed shots. In Frank Martin’s eight Gamecocks may have some problems. naked eye. seasons as a head coach, his teams have If I can use those numbers to give you a never finished worse than eighth nationally • Average Height and Effective Height. more insightful account of the game, then I in OR%. A team’s height is easy to notice, but feel good when I sign off. hard to put into context. Enter “Effective Besides, I need something to talk about at • Free Throw Rate (FTA/FGA). A Height,” a brilliant stat conceived by Ken the next family dinner.

• Offensive and Defensive Efficiency. The lodestar of all things tempo-free. Defensive efficiency measures how many points a team allows per 100 possessions. A team may allow 60 points per game, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have a lockdown defense. It could mean they play at a glacial pace, and have fewer possessions over the course of a game.

Spurs & Feathers • 31

February 11, 2015

Make plans to come out and watch Gamecock basketball

As the final minutes ran off in the second half and it became obvious that South Carolina would not come back against Kentucky, I started thinking about other great teams I had seen play, mostly in the Carolina Coliseum. There have been some good ones with great players. The LSU team with Shaq comes to mind. Kentucky has had some great teams, but the best in my opinion was the one led by Jamal Mashburn. While we are thinking about good teams, I can’t Ed Girardeau leave out Contributing the Carolina Editor teams with English and Dunleavy. They really were that good. Time will tell where this Kentucky team places in the scheme of things. The Gamecock men still have a ways to go, but maybe not as far as it may seem. Defensively Carolina is really good. That has not transferred over to the offense as of yet. We struggle from the perimeter and because of our size, teams can play a zone and minimize our good looks inside.

No better contrast is there than Michael Carrera against Kentucky. Carrera used all of his 6-foot-5 inches to gather nine rebounds against the sevenfooters. It was remarkable to see the comparison while the players were lined up for free throws. It really made me appreciate what Carrera was able to accomplish as he was giving up more than a half a foot to those guys (does he not remind you of Renaldo Balkman?). If the men are going to compete on a week-toweek basis, they have got to get better shooting and a bigger presence underneath. As Coach Spurrier likes to say “help is on the way.” PJ Dozier will add to the perimeter game and Chris Silva will help inside next year. In the meantime, Carolina should be able to get a few wins like the one against Georgia last week. If they can get on a winning streak, it is still possible to see at the very least an NIT berth and the more games this team gets to play, the better they will become - this year and next. Kentucky is certainly the standard by which all basketball teams are judged. Before you start naming off others, they are the winningest NCAA Division 1 basketball program in history (2,162 wins) and have eight national championships to their credit and four runner-ups. That being said, what is occurring with our women’s program may be the kind of thing that in the future we will look back and say, “remember when we got that first one?” The game we have circled on our schedule for

months is now upon us. In fact, if you’re reading this in print it has already been played. If Kentucky is the standard for the men, then UConn is that for the women with nine national championships and the two-time defending champion. As Rebecca Lobo, former national player of the year with UConn, said last weekend, “South Carolina may be No. 1, but UConn is still the program by which all is measured.” What an opportunity! Dawn Staley makes no bones about the fact that she wants to win the National Championship. That is this team’s goal. If that is to be accomplished, it will have to come through Connecticut. To get to play them in season with no consequences is spectacular. If South Carolina wins, great! We remain number one, but better yet we know that we can beat UConn if we see them again in the tournament. This is the 12th week in a row that Carolina has been No. 1, three months worth. No one will ever be able to take that away from this team, but they want something more. If the Gamecocks lose, they will lose the No. 1 position, but they will leave knowing where they stand. If it’s close, let’s see how it goes on a neutral court in Tampa. If UConn wins going away, then we know what we need to work on in order to beat them. We win either way. I don’t think there could be anything more intimidating that meeting a team you have never played before in the tournament that has won nine national championships. South Carolina will not

have to face that. The team will know what they are getting into. Meanwhile, this is not the most important game left. Tennessee looms in Columbia on Feb. 23. If UConn is the standard, then the Volunteers are right behind them with eight national championships themselves, the last coming in 2008, and 16 SEC regular season championships. USC won their first last year. The Lady Vols are undefeated in the SEC and if they stay that way, that will be more important to South Carolina that the UConn game. Winning the SEC, assuring a number one seed in the tournament, may all be up for grabs, and that’s not to mention the remaining other five SEC games, including at No. 11 Kentucky. The progress that this team has made, just within this season, is remarkable. The latest being the emergence of Bianca Cuevas. This freshman has really come on and adds a different threat from the inside force that already exist. She is fast, a really good ball handler, shoots well and exudes confidence. Cuevas is a great addition to an already heavyladen lineup of great basketball talent. I cannot wait to see this team’s next game, whether its UConn, Tennessee, or otherwise. They are on track to being right up there with the Shaq, Mashburn, or English teams of the past. Make sure you make plans to come out and see them play so you can say I was there when this all began.


32 • Spurs & Feathers

February 11, 2015


Spurs & Feathers 211