SEPTEMBER 2018 • VOLUME 40 • ISSUE 9
FLYING HIGH Gamecock offense shows big-play potential
Coastal, Georgia coverage A’ja the new face of WNBA
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Owens: Bentley leadership critical
Legendary Fan: A special date
Legendary Fan: Honoring his dad
Hand: Nothing better than a game with your son
Show your love to Sir Big Spur
SPURS & FEATHERS (USPS 12779) (ISSN7454368X) is published 12 times a year, monthly January-December. 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 Evening Post Industries., 1534 Main Street, Columbia, SC, 29201. Periodicals postage paid at Columbia, SC Postmaster: Send changes to SPURS & FEATHERS, 1534 Main Street, Columbia, SC 29201
GAMECOCK CLUB • TABLE OF CONTENTS
Fast start: New offense clicking
Big Zack set for big season
BAW humble and hungry
Coastal Recap: Key players return
Georgia Recap: A game quickly forgotten
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Bryan Edwards pretty good, too
PHOTOS: Coastal, Georgia action
Moore: Big dreams, big checks
Tori Gurley: A Gamecock Ambassador
28 VOLLEYBALL 38
New coach has team off to fast start
Gostomski makes gifts of comfort
A’ja: The new face of the WNBA
Team USA has Gamecock feel
Frank’s best class
Men’s and women’s schedules
SOCCER 34 36
Gunter: Team, fans must keep believing
Girardeau: Team’s demise premature
Goalkeeper has name to remember
ON THE COVER: Photo by Allen Sharpe Design by Caryn Scheving
Men have something to prove
Gamecock News & Notes
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Bentley’s leadership critical after early-season loss By Jeff Owens | Executive Editor
hen Jake Bentley unleashed a beautiful 44-yard touchdown to Bryan Edwards against Georgia on Sept. 8, he didn’t sprint down the field pumping his fist and celebrating. He didn’t hug Edwards or leap into the arms of an offensive lineman like he normally does after a touchdown. Instead, he jogged back to the sidelines with a somber look on his face. Of course, South Carolina trailed Georgia 41-17 after the fourth-quarter score. After throwing two interceptions in the loss to the No. 3 Bulldogs, Bentley was as frustrated as anybody after the game. “Every loss sucks,” he said. “Everybody on this team hates losing more than anything.” Though it was a disappointing loss for Bentley, he immediately turned his attention to putting it behind him, lifting up his teammates and moving forward. The next day, he was in the film
room, working on correcting his mistakes and trying to figure out how to improve the offense. As the leader of the team, that is one of his biggest responsibilities. As much as anyone, the team goes as Jake goes. “A loss is never easy to just get over,” Bentley said. “Being an older guy, you want to win those big games for your team and for your fans. At the same time, I have been here, it’s my third season now and you kinda know how to get over it and in your mind switch it to the next week and really have that mentality that every week is a season.” Bentley entered 2018 13-7 as a starting quarterback, which is remarkable considering his first six starts came as an 18-year-old skipping his senior year of high school. He grew up fast that year and led the Gamecocks to a 9-4 season in just his second year as a starter. After the season, he was named a permanent team captain
by his teammates, only the third sophomore in school history to receive that honor. “That shows the respect he’s got in our organization,” head coach Will Muschamp said. Bentley is as talented as any quarterback in the SEC, but the knock against him is that he struggles in big games. He is 0-4 against Georgia and Clemson and has thrown just three TDs and five interceptions against South Carolina’s two biggest rivals. But he has won some big games and excelled in the spotlight. He beat Tennessee and Missouri at home as a freshman and led the Gamecocks to a big road win in Knoxville last year. And he was the MVP of the Outback Bowl win over Michigan on New Years Day. As talented as Bentley is on the field, he is an even better leader. Those skills were critical after the loss to Georgia as Carolina prepared to face Marshall and then go on the road for big SEC
games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky. “You just have to bring the energy and stay upbeat and positive and continue to remind the guys that it’s a long season,” he said. “Just remind them to stay positive and understand that you can’t let one loss affect the rest of the season.” If the Gamecocks shrug off the early-season defeat and have another eight- or nine-win season, it will be, in part, because of the leadership of their junior QB.
Jeff Owens can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @Jowens_SpursUp.
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EDITOR’S NOTE • SPURS & FEATHERS
Legendary fans Linda, Wayne Vereen will never forget their first SC game together From staff reports
inda and Wayne Vereen will never forget their first Gamecock football game together — it was their first official date. More than 50 years later, the Vereens were honored as South Carolina’s Legendary Fan of the Game during the season opener against Coastal Carolina. Linda and Wayne were friends in high school and began dating while attending South Carolina. Linda graduated in 1968, Wayne in 1969. Linda attended her first Gamecock football game in 1966 after transferring to South Carolina from Winthrop. Wayne’s first game was in 1958 as a Cub Scout. The one he remembers most, though, was in 1960. He saved the ticket, which shows he paid 10 cents to see the Gamecocks play NC State. The Vereens have been Gamecock Club members for more than 40 years, with both serving as
president of the Horry County Gamecock Club and on the state executive board. Their favorite Gamecock traditions are tailgating each week in their Cockaboose, where they sometimes entertain as many as 60 people. Their favorite Gamecock
athletes are George Rogers and Marcus Lattimore. “We remember exactly where we were when we learned that George had received the Heisman Trophy,” Linda said. “We were as proud as if he had been our own son. We suffered and triumphed
with Marcus. We felt his pain when he got hurt and celebrated with him when he worked so hard to come back. We are so proud of the kind of athlete and man he was and continues to be.” Their favorite memories are that first date, of course, and being honored as the Legendary Fan of the Game on Sept. 1. “We are so grateful for the experiences we have had at USC and how they have impacted our life,” Linda said. “We are proud of all Gamecock sports as well as what has been accomplished in the academic arena. We are proud of our [University] President [Dr. Harris Pastides] and his wife and how well they represent us as a university. “How better to express our pride than to be a member of and support an organization that represents all that.”
Photo by Allen Sharpe
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George Gregory III honors his dad as Legendary Fan of the Game By Jeff Owens/Executive Editor
eorge Gregory III has not missed a South Carolina home football game in 63 years. That’s an impressive accomplishment. Until you consider that his father, George Gregory Jr., also did the same thing. Gregory and his family have been members of the Gamecock Club for 78 consecutive years and were honored on Sept. 8 as the Legendary Fan of the Game. He wanted to wait until he matched his father’s record of 63 consecutive home games before accepting the honor. “It was just a way of bonding between my dad and I,” Gregory III said. “We enjoyed it and it became a passion going to the games and to different sporting events. This is my way of honoring him.” George Gregory Jr., a South Carolina graduate and a state Chief Justice, began taking his son to South Carolina football games
when he was 1-year-old. Gregory III’s first football memory is the 1962 Carolina-Clemson game, which the Tigers won 20-17 at Death Valley. “I remember we lost on a field goal at the end and I got so upset that a local physician who was there had to get me some aspirin,” said Gregory, who has never missed a South Carolina-Clemson game. His favorite football memories are watching South Carolina beat then-No. 3 North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 1981 and the first bowl victory over West Virginia in the 1995 Carquest Bowl in Miami. Now an attorney in North Myrtle Beach, Gregory, 64, graduated from South Carolina in 1977, got a master’s in accounting in 1984 and graduated from the University law school in 1990. As an undergraduate, he was a manager for the basketball team under legendary head coach Frank
McGuire and got to work with future NBA stars Alex English, Mike Dunleavy and Brian Winters. “That was pretty impressive being around those guys. It was a special time at the University,” he said. South Carolina basketball was so big in the 1960s and 70s that Gregory remembers once seeing a ticket to a South Carolina-Erskine game sell for $200. “That’s how scarce tickets were back then.” “Coach McGuire was probably the greatest coach we’ve ever had in any sport, along with Coach [Ray] Tanner,” he said. His greatest memories, though, were spending time with his dad
Photo by Allen Sharpe
at football and basketball games and other South Carolina athletic events. “It was an opportunity to spend time with my parents and my father,” he said. “It was just that special bond that is created when a father takes his son to the game.”
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LENGENDARY FAN • GAMECOCK CLUB
Photo by Brian Hand
The thrill of Gamecock football with your son
administrators, fans and even football legends that I could have only dreamed about when I was his age. It’s a blessing that I do not take for granted. Which is why when talking with my friend Langston Moore, I asked Alexander if he knew who Langston was when giving him a high five? He did not, but I quickly pointed out that he was getting the chance to meet a Gamecock legend and former NFL player. As we were walking away, he said, “Daddy, that was pretty cool.” It was for me, too. Right before we entered the stadium we met up with my dad, my brother and his family, who were all attending the game. My nephew, Samuel, was also taking in a game for the first time at 5 years old. Seeing his face taking it all in reminded me what it was like for Alexander at 4 and 5 years old. He did not understand it all, but Samuel was thrilled to be there. That’s where the real fun started for me with my son. At 4, he did not know what to think of all the traditions, but at 10 he was thrilled to take in “2001”
By Brian Hand/Contributing writer
s you get older, sometimes you forget just what that feeling is like. You take it for granted because it is something you have been doing for a long time and it is fun being around people you know and taking in the game. That’s why it was such a thrill to have the opportunity to take my son to South Carolina’s season opener against Coastal Carolina. Working in sports, it is hard for me to attend games with him or my 4-year-old daughter because I am always working the games. It was not his first game at Williams-Brice Stadium, but for the 10-year-old it was his first game with me in the stands with him since he was 4. He went to another game when he was 5 in 2013, but I was not in the stands with him. At 10, he now has a much greater appreciation for his surroundings. That’s why the smile Alexander had on his face while we were walking around before the game was so special to me. Growing up, I did not have the chance to attend a lot of Gamecock
COLUMN • BRIAN HAND
football games because I was always traveling for soccer. But I instantly recognized his smile as the same one I always had when my dad took me to South Carolina games around the same age after we moved back to South Carolina from Dallas. It also reminded me how much things have changed around Williams-Brice Stadium. It used to be that the game itself was the spectacle, but for Alexander at 10 years old there is so much more than tailgating and the game. Taking him around Springs Brooks Plaza and into Gamecock Village he had the unique opportunity to also take in the “Gamecock Walk.” We then walked down Tommy Suggs Garnet Way to see the new Cyndi and Kenneth Long Family Football Operations Center next to the Jerri and Steve Spurrier Indoor Practice Facility. I’ve been lucky enough to get to know many people through my time at Spurs & Feathers, so Alexander also had the chance to interact with many Gamecock
and be involved in “Sandstorm.” He was waving his towel proudly and cheering the whole time. It was ridiculously hot, but never once did Alexander ask to leave. That meant the world to me. All in all, the 49-15 win over Coastal Carolina was great, but for me the real fun was taking it all in with my son. He is a Gamecock, just like I was raised to be. It’s pretty special to be a Gamecock, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to take in the game through the eyes of a child. I highly recommend everyone with children to take a step back sometimes and think about how it looks to your children. I know I’ll never forget the first time Alexander truly embraced the opportunity to attend a game. He’ll be back sometime soon, too. In fact, as we were leaving, I asked him, “Did you have fun?” His response? “It was fun. Can we come back again sometime?” — Brian Hand is the former editor of Spurs & Feathers and the current Assisant Athletics Director for External Relations at UNC Asheville.
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Help support your favorite Gamecock, Sir Big Spur
here are few Gamecock fans more dedicated and committed to South Carolina athletics than Ron Albertelli and Mary Snelling.
How many other fans travel to every home and away football game? With a live Gamecock. Albertelli and Snelling own the Old English black-breasted red
Photo by Allen Sharpe
Gamecock known as Sir Big Spur and have been bringing him to South Carolina football games and other athletic events for 20 years. In 2015, Sir Big Spur was named one of the top 10 live mascots in the country. Snelling, a South Carolina alum and die-hard fan, got her first pet rooster from her father. The original live mascot was named Cocky Doodle Lou after former Gamecock head coach Lou Holtz. After being renamed Sir Big Spur, the mascot known for its loud and boisterous crow has become a fixture at Williams-Brice Stadium, Founders Park and other South Carolina athletic events. He has traveled to Omaha for the College World Series six times and been to South Carolina basketball games in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and Alaska. “Our Gamecock has at least 80,000 adoring fans,” Snelling told The State newspaper in 2015. “He’s treated like royalty wherever we are. He’s treated well because he’s
part of our family and our love for the university.”
“He’s treated like royalty wherever we are.” Snelling and Albertelli raise the Gamecocks on their farm and go to great lengths to care for them and train them to interact with people and not have an aggressive personality. The University has started a campaign to help support the Sir Big Spur program by selling official Sir Big Spur merchandise with a portion of the proceeds going to the care and treatment of the mascot. Merchandise will be available at gamecocksonline.com and at the University bookstores. − Jeff Owens
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SIR BIG SPUR • GAMECOCK ATHLETICS
Photo by Allen Sharpe
Fast and Furious Gamecock offense flashes big-play, high-scoring potential in first two games By Jeff Owens/Executive Editor
ith 59 seconds remaining in the first half of the season opener against Coastal Carolina, it was time for the vaunted South Carolina offense to show what it could really do. The Gamecocks led 21-3, but with less than a minute remaining in the half, it was a perfect opportunity for quarterback Jake Bentley to open up the offense and flash the potential of the new up-tempo attack. Starting from the South
FOOTBALL • OFFENSE
Carolina 24-yard line, Bentley went to work, completing a 12-yard pass to Shi Smith. Hurrying to the line of scrimmage, he completed another quick pass to Bryan Edwards. Bentley then hit tight end K.C. Crosby for 14 yards and then Deebo Samuel for another 14 to the Coastal 22-yard line. On the fifth play of the drive, he found running back Rico Dowdle sprinting across the middle and Dowdle scampered into the end zone for a touchdown.
Just like that, in a mere 45 seconds, Bentley led the offense 76 yards in just five plays to give the Gamecocks a 28-3 halftime lead en route to a 49-15 win. “That’s a great example of what it looks like to go fast and be efficient,” Bentley said. “There was no question at the end of the first half what we were going to do because of the experience of our quarterback and being at home and the experience of our
skill people outside and our offensive line,” head coach Will Muschamp said. “Put the ball in guys’ hands and let them play. ... We want to be aggressive with Jake.” Entering the 2018 season, the Gamecocks were anxious to unveil a new, fast-paced attack designed to improve an offense that averaged just 24 points per game (12th in the SEC) last year. In the first two games, the offense showed what it can do, piling up 893 yards of total offense in a 1-1 start. Even in a disappointing loss to Georgia, the offense showed the potential to strike quickly and score in a variety of ways. The offense was aggressive and efficient throughout the season opener, rolling up 557 yards of total offense. Sure, it was against Coastal Carolina, a small school playing just its second season at the FBS level, but it was a glimpse of what Bentley and South Carolina can do when they are able to go fast and dictate the tempo. In an exciting season opener, the Gamecocks provided a look at the depth of talent they have on offense. Bentley was 22-of-29 for 250 yards with a career-high four touchdown passes. The running game chipped in with 263 yards rushing, including 105 on 15 carries by Dowdle, who had a touchdown rushing and receiving. Samuel, who missed 10 games last season with a broken ankle, led the Gamecocks with seven catches for 56 yards, including a spectacular touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone. With Bentley playing just three quarters before giving way to backup Michael Scarnecchia, 11 different receivers caught passes and five of them hauled in touchdown passes. Three different backs rushed for more than 40 yards, with Ty’Son Williams adding 82 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. “We were very efficient offensively,” Muschamp said. “When you are able to stay balanced like that, Jake was very accurate with the football and we ran the ball very well. Pretty pleased with the way they played.” Overall, it was an impressive opening performance for the Gamecocks, who implemented the new, up-tempo offense to better utilize Bentley’s passing and decision-making and the skill of playmakers like Dowdle, Samuel and a deep group of wide receivers. The offense had 15 explosive September 2018
Photo by Allen Sharpe
plays (20-yard pass or 10-yard run), including three that resulted in touchdowns. Dowdle set up the first score with a 29-yard run, while Williams and A.J. Turner had gains of 15 and 17 yards on the second scoring drive. The third drive ended in a 24-yard TD pass from Bentley to Bryan Edwards. Scarnecchia capped the day of big plays with a 27-yard TD pass to backup receiver Randrecous Davis. The offense also showed its ability to put together long, quick scoring drives. The seven touchdown drives covered an average of 75.2 yards in 8.8 plays over an average time of 3:21. Bentley credited the offensive line for making the fast-paced offense click. “It really starts with [center] Donell [Stanley] and the offensive line. They set the tempo,” he said. “The faster they get lined up, the faster we can go. Donell did a great job of understanding the situation and understanding that we have to get lined up fast.” The Gamecocks began implementing the new offense after the regular season last year with new offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon and debuted parts of it in the second half of the Outback Bowl win over Michigan. Bentley said he and McClendon were on the September 2018
same page throughout the season opener. “I think it’s more comfortable for him, more comfortable with me,” he said. “A lot of times out there we are on the same page before the play is even called. I was kinda thinking, ‘hopefully he calls this play,’ and he ended up calling it. That’s what you want as a quarterback. … I felt like he called a lot of good plays that put us in the right position and a lot of guys made some fantastic plays.” “I think what you are going to see is times when we are going really fast and there are going to be some times when we are taking a look and seeing what we are getting,” Muschamp said. “I think it is going to be a game-by-game operation as far as administering the offense. If there are times we feel like we are being very effective going fast, we will.” The Gamecocks debuted even more wrinkles in Week 2 against Georgia, including a five receiver set to start the game. “We wanted to spread them out and get their rushers fatigued and make them run the field,” Muschamp said. Despite a disappointing 41-17 loss — which was mostly a result of the inability of the defense to stop Georgia — the Gamecocks
offense produced some highlights, compiling 336 total yards against one of the best defenses in the country. Bentley completed 30 passes (the second most of his career) on a career-high 47 attempts for 269 yards and a touchdown — a 44-yard strike to Edwards. Against the No. 3 Bulldogs, the Gamecock offense dug into its bag of tricks to battle back from a 14-0 deficit, showing its creativity with Samuel tossing a 13-yard TD pass to Edwards. And the offense showed the potential for much more. It’s first drive ended with an interception that bounced off the helmet of Dowdle and two other drives stalled in the red zone, one on an interception in the end zone. The Gamecocks out-gained Georgia in the first half but was plagued by missed opportunities. “We ended up taking 46 snaps in the first half and were able to move the football pretty well,” Muschamp said. “I felt good about that. We just needed to score touchdowns in the red zone when you have opportunities down there.” After the Georgia loss, with road trips to Vanderbilt and Kentucky up next, the offense turned its attention to focusing more on the run game, which produced just 63 yards on only 20 carries against the Bulldogs. Muschamp believes the up-tempo
offense and explosive passing game should lead to more success on the ground. That was another big reason for implementing the faster attack. “When you watch teams that play with tempo and how effective they are running the football, a lot of it has nothing to do with getting a hat on a hat in the run game. A lot of it has to do with displacement of a defensive player, not being aligned or having his eyes in the right spots,” Muschamp said. “In order to create some explosive plays, in the passing game especially, you need to be able to run the ball and stay balanced and create one-on-ones down the field. There’s no question that was a big part of it.” After two games, Bentley and Muschamp were looking for more balance on offense. “We have to be able to run the ball better,” Bentley said. “We have to get that done.” “We need to be more creative in trying to run the football,” Muschamp said. “We have to be hard-headed about the run game and stay with it. I think that will help our team and make [defenses] add one to the box and create more issues outside for them.” — For daily updates on Gamecock football and complete coverage of every game, visit spursandfeathers.com and follow us on Twitter at @SpursFeathers.
Photo by Jenny Dilworth
OFFENSE • FOOTBALL
Zack Bailey thrives after move ‘back home’ By Jeff Owens/Executive Editor
ack Bailey has never been more miserable than when he injured his right ankle last season, forcing him to miss five games during South Carolina’s 9-4 season. It wasn’t just the pain that bothered the big offensive lineman. The real misery came from standing on the sidelines or watching on TV while his team played game after game. “That was probably the most stressful injury I’ve had because I was sitting on the sideline and I was helpless to do anything,” Bailey said. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as the ribbing he took from teammates over the fluke injury and how it happened. Bailey was in pass protection when a Kentucky defender tackled quarterback Jake Bentley and both of them fell on Bailey’s ankle. “The play Jake tried to do was flop, and it was a huge failure,” Bailey laughed. “I am reminded of it a lot, especially when it comes to social media and stuff. It’s OK. I forgive him. I just tell him don’t do it again.” After recovering, Bailey is poised for a big senior season. A three-year starter, he has returned home in a sense, moving back to his more natural position at left guard. The Summerville, S.C. native started all 13 games at left guard as a sophomore but moved to right tackle last year. “I feel good going back,” he said. “There is some adjustment you have to make but it’s one I am familiar with. So I am loving it. I’m kinda going back to my home position.” Bailey is the most experienced and talented player on a muchimproved offensive line. Donell Stanley, a two-year starter, starts at center with athletic sophomore Sadarius Hutcherson at right guard. Senior Dennis Daley is back at left tackle while senior Blake Camper started the season at right tackle. Bailey, Stanley and Hutcherson give the Gamecocks tremendous size and athleticism on the interior of the line. They made a big im-
pact in the season opener as South Carolina rushed for 263 yards and two touchdowns against Coastal Carolina — 43 more yards than in any single game last season. “They did a phenomenal job in the running game,” Bentley said. “Having those guys in there and having that push, I know the running backs are excited about it. They know how good the offensive line is this year.” “Getting that movement off the ball will be a tremendous help to our run game,” Bailey said. Bailey, who has played in 36 games with 28 starts over his threeyear career, was considered an NFL prospect entering last season and was on multiple preseason All-SEC teams entering this year. Offensive line coach Eric Wolford, who coached for the San Francisco 49ers before returning to South Carolina, says the 6-6, 314-pound Bailey has what it takes to play at the next level. “The thing we talk a lot about is just being consistent, being a dependable guy, being a detail guy, consistently playing at pad level and not taking it for granted you can just move people,” Wolford said. “One thing about Zack, when you correct him, he takes it to heart and he is going to go out and get it done.”
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FOOTBALL • ZACK BAILEY
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humble and hungry Senior Bryson Allen-Williams bringing a positive influence in return from injury By Jeff Owens/Executive Editor • Photos by Allen Sharpe
hile serving as the vice chair of the SEC Football Leadership Council this summer, South Carolina senior linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams learned some valuable lessons while engaging with SEC executives and other student-athletes. Lessons he believes will help him make a difference in life, no matter what he does after college and football. “I want to help people understand that life is bigger than sports, life is bigger than what you think it is,” Allen-Williams said as he prepared for the 2018 season. “A lot of people are down and depressed, I just want to help bring people out [of that]. That’s what I try to do, bring positivity to a lot of situations.”
FOOTBALL • BRYSON ALLEN-WILLIAMS
Allen-Williams can draw from his own experience as he tries to pass that lesson along to teammates and other student-athletes. It’s an attitude he learned after a shoulder injury wiped out his senior season last year. The senior from Ellenwood, Ga. was off to a great start in 2017, collecting 10 tackles, including two sacks, and producing turnovers in the first two games before suffering the injury in the third game of the season. After undergoing surgery, he was forced to sit out the remainder of the season. Fortunately, he was granted a medical redshirt to return for one more season and hopes to finish his senior season the way it started last year. He got off to a great start, collecting five tackles, including a
sack and three tackles for loss, in the season opener against Coastal Carolina. He was so anxious to get back on the field, he was counting down the days until the season opener — 153 days, to be exact. “It felt good,” he said after the game. “I just know that after that first play, I was just locked in and ready to go. It’s been a long time coming. I was just excited to be back.” So was head coach Will Muschamp. “We’re really proud of Bryson,” he said. “There is no doubt that the effort that he plays with, we have a standard here of effort and he certainly falls into that category as a guy who is a leader of this team.” Allen-Williams is grateful for another opportunity and, in a way,
grateful for the lessons the setback taught him. “It was hard, it was really hard,” he said. “I tell people that all the time, it was very hard but I feel like I learned so much and I know God doesn’t make mistakes. Just him giving me an opportunity to come back for my fifth year, it’s exciting for me.” Prior to the injury, Allen-Williams was focused on having a big senior season and possibly earning the opportunity to play at the next level. He dreamed of the chance to head to the NFL like teammate and fellow linebacker Skai Moore, who signed a free-agent contract with the Indianapolis Colts after his senior season. The injury changed his perspective and outlook, however. “It humbled me a lot,” he said. “I feel like I was thinking too much about the end result and being too selfish and thinking about myself. Just seeing what the team did without me, it kinda made me realize that they don’t need me. We have a great team and Coach [Will] Muschamp does a great job of making sure there is a next-man-up mentality. “I want to be that guy that comes in and leaves a legacy here and helps my guys win games.” Missing the bulk of last season and almost seeing his career end prematurely motivated AllenWilliams to take advantage of his final season. “It’s crazy how much hungrier it made me,” he said. “From the day I was able to start back working out and rehabbing, it definitely gave me a little edge because every day I wanted to get better and I wanted to dominate so when I came back, I could be the best player I could be.” No one was happier to see Allen-Williams return than Muschamp, who lost four key players to season-ending injuries in the first half of last season. “I’m so happy to get Bryson back,” he said prior to the season. “He deserves to have a great senior year.” Having played in 40 games, with 13 starts, over the past four years, Allen-Williams is one of the most experienced players on a defense that still relies on a lot of young players and newcomers to the program. While junior T.J. Brunson is the leader of the defense from his Mike linebacker position, Allen-Williams backs him up and provides another veteran voice on the field. The two veterans led the defense in tackles September 2018
in the season opener. “T.J. is the leader of our defense, and I want to make sure I let that be known because T.J. has come so far, just seeing him coming in as a freshman to his junior year and just seeing his development and understanding of the calls, T.J. has come a long way,” AllenWilliams said. “But what he doesn’t see sometimes, I can help him with it. Maybe helping bring those young guys up.” Brunson is happy to have an experienced sidekick to lean on. “It’s huge having him back,” Brunson said. “He brings back a lot experience … and he definitely backs me up. … Definitely having an extra set of experienced eyes on the field is very helpful.” Allen-Williams is also one of the most versatile players on defense. He can play both the Buck and Sam linebacker positions and at 6-1, 230 can slide up and play defensive end as well. The Gamecocks are expected to have a strong pass rush and had three sacks and eight tackles for loss in the first game against Coastal. “You stand him up, you don’t know where to turn the protection,” defensive coordinator
Travaris Robinson said. “He can really, really rush, man. It’s tough for those tackles to kick aside and block him.” “He’s a guy who gives us a lot of flexibility,” linebacker coach Mike Peterson said. “The offense is going to have to figure out how he is lining up and how we are using him. “He plays with a lot of effort. We’re just trying to simplify those things and get him in situations where he can rush the passer and run and use his athletic ability.” Allen-Williams believes his
versatility is his biggest asset. When people ask him what position he plays, he tells them “athlete, because they move me around a lot.” “I just feel like my four years here, being able to play defensive end, being able to play inside linebacker, being able to play outside linebacker, that is just going to help the defense,” he said. “I have always said I’m willing to do whatever the team needs me to do. “I just want to bring the energy and bring a spark for this defense.”
Allen-Williams has stopped worrying about the future or playing in the NFL and is instead focused on being grateful for one more opportunity to play college football and making the best of it. “I try not to think about it. God has a plan for me. I see it every day,” he said. “I see that God has a plan for this team. You think about the end goal and you try to plan things out, but God changes your plan. So I feel like last year I was thinking too much about the end goal instead of worrying about the now and helping this team, because if you don’t win games, nobody is going to go anywhere.” That’s the message Allen-Williams is relaying to his team. That’s what a leader does. “That’s kinda my biggest thing, don’t be selfish. You can have goals … but if you are thinking about the next level right now … we haven’t completed any of the goals we want to complete,” he said. “… I try to relay that to a lot of the guys. If we go out and do all the things we talk about every day in the meeting room, a lot of guys are going to get paid.”
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BRYSON ALLEN-WILLIAMS • FOOTBALL
many happy returns Deebo, Rico shine as returning stars lead the way in season opener By Jeff Owens/Executive Editor
hen captain Deebo Samuel walked to the center of the field before the season opener, he pointed to the sky and said a little prayer. “I was really emotional and I was just thanking God for the opportunity to still be able to play the game,” said Samuel, who missed all but three games last season with a broken ankle. After getting off to a spectacular start last year, scoring six touchdowns in the first three games, Samuel was injured in the third game against Kentucky and missed the rest of the season. After deciding to return for his senior season, he waited 11 months to return to the field. He was so excited he didn’t sleep much the night before the season opener. “It was amazing. It’s been 11 months since I’ve been able to play against another opponent and I was just glad to get back out there and play,” he said. Samuel was one of four key players who returned to action against Coastal Carolina after missing much of the 2017 season. Linebacker BrysonAllen Williams also missed 10 games after injuring his shoulder. Tight end K.C. Crosby and running back Rico Dowdle both missed five games each with a broken leg. Samuel, Allen-Williams and Crosby all returned for their senior seasons. “To get those three guys back makes a big difference for us,” head coach Will Muschamp said. All four players made a big impact in the 49-15 win. Samuel led South Carolina with seven catches for 56 yards and scored his 16th career touchdown. Dowdle rushed for a game-high 105 yards and scored a touchdown rushing and receiving. Crosby had a key 14-yard reception on a secondquarter scoring drive, while Allen-Williams had five tackles, including a sack and three tackles for loss. The loss of Samuel was huge in 2017, leaving the Gamecocks without their best offensive weapon and one of the most explosive players in the country. His return was a big storyline entering 2018. “I’m extremely happy for him,” quarterback Jake Bentley said. “The challenges that he’s been through have really turned him into an outstanding teammate and an outstanding friend that really just enjoys being out there with the guys. He understands that you are never going to take the game for granted. It was awesome to see him get a touchdown again and just be back out there with us.” Head coach Will Muschamp said Samuel faced a long, tough road in his battle back from a broken ankle. Samuel has missed 20 games due to injury throughout his career. “It’s been a very frustrating time for him,” Muschamp said. “It’s hard sometimes as a parent or coach to say it’s going to be better. They get tired of hearing that. After a while you need results, so today provided results and he had a big smile on his face after the game. I’m extremely happy for him.” Samuel capped his big day with a spectacular touchdown catch in the third quarter. With a defender draped all over him, he made a one-handed grab in the left corner of the end zone. “The dude had my right arm and I had no choice but to put one hand up and try to catch it,” he said. The play capped a special day for a special player who has had plenty of ups and downs throughout his career. “It was a blessing to be out back out there,” Samuel said.
FOOTBALL • COASTAL RECAP
Deebo Samuel Photo by Jenny Dilworth
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Bentley completed 22-of-29 passes for 250 yards and a career-high four touchdowns, giving him 31 for his career. Photo by Allen Sharpe
4 6 8 9 7 Rico Dowdle rushed for 105 yards on 15 carries, his fourth career 100-yard game.
Ph o t
n ll e
Six different players scored touchdowns, with Dowdle scoring twice.
SC had 25 completions, with 11 different players catching passes. Deebo Samuel led the way with seven receptions, while Shi Smith and Bryan Edwards had four each.
South Carolina’s 49 points were the fourth-most all-time in a seasonopener. The 28 first-half points were the most since 1998.
The 557 yards of total offense was the first 500yard output since 2016 vs. Western Carolina.
The Gamecock defense had eight tackles for loss, including three sacks. Allen-Williams led the team with three tackles for loss, including his fifth career sack.
Dowdle scored his ninth career rushing touchdown. He also caught his third TD pass, giving him 12 TDs in his three seasons.
WHAT THEY SAID “Very proud of the way we came out and played. We were very efficient offensively. … Overall, pretty pleased.” — head coach Will Muschamp
“They did a phenomenal job in the running game. Running for 263, that’s outstanding. It’s a testament to Coach Wolf and how hard those guys have worked all year.” l Di — quarterback Photo y Jenny b Jake Bentley th
Horn became the seventh freshman since 2009 to start a season-opener, joining Stephon Gilmore (2009), Marcus Lattimore (2010), Jadeveon Clowney (2011), Bryson Allen-Williams (2014), Al Harris Jr. (2014) and Bryan Edwards (2016).
There were several firsts for the Gamecocks. TE Kiel Pollard and WR Randrecous Davis both had their first career TD receptions, while backup QB Michael Scarnecchia threw his first career TD pass. DB Jaycee Horn had his first sack, while LB Rosendo Louis Jr. recovered his first fumble.
NUMBERS THAT MATTER
COASTAL RECAP • FOOTBALL
Photo by Allen Sharpe
Photo by Jenny Dilworth
‘Every week is a season’ Gamecocks refocus, go back to work after frustrating loss to Georgia By Jeff Owens/Executive Editor 18
FOOTBALL • GEORGIA RECAP
ill Muschamp and his South Carolina players are big on slogans and inspirational mottos designed to motivate the team. Throughout last year’s 9-4 season, it was, “So what, now what?” Going into the offseason and Muschamp’s third year in Columbia, it was “All Gas, No Brakes.” And as the 2018 season kicked off, it was, “Every week is a season.” Two weeks into the schedule, the Gamecocks reminded themselves of that motto as they regrouped from a disappointing 41-17 loss to No. 3 Georgia. After an impressive season-opening victory over Coastal Carolina, South Carolina was ranked No. 24 in the country and looked forward to its matchup with the defending SEC champions. The Gamecocks hung with Georgia in the first half, rallied from a 14-0 deficit and trailed just 20-10 at the half. But the Bulldogs overwhelmed South Carolina in the second half, dominated the line of scrimmage and reeled off 21 straight third-quarter points to take control of the game. Afterward, the Gamecocks were frustrated. But they quickly turned their attention to correcting their mistakes and re-focusing on the rest of the season. “We’ve got it on our wristbands. Each week is a new season,” receiver Bryan Edwards said. “We’re going to make the corrections and move on. That’s a motto on our team, win, lose or draw.” “This is only the second game of the season,” defensive back Steven Montac said. “It’s not like it’s the last game. It’s not the SEC Championship. It’s the second game. We’ve still got 10 more.” As the Gamecocks prepared for road games at Vanderbilt and Kentucky, the focus was on eliminating mistakes that plagued them against Georgia and improving week to week. “We’ve got to find a way to win, no matter what it is, so we’re not going to point fingers at anyone,” quarterback Jake Bentley said. “Everyone is going to look at themselves and ask what they could have done better.” “Disappointed with how we played, but Georgia has a great team,” Muschamp said. “So we are going to go back to the drawing board and correct our mistakes. We have a long season ahead of us and we are going to keep the right mentality and continue to work hard.” The biggest problem against Georgia was on defense, where the Gamecocks gave up 271 yards rushing and 473 total yards. South Carolina outgained Georgia in the first half, but the Bulldogs took control of the game with three straight touchdown drives in the third quarter. “We just got whipped in the second half,” Muschamp said. “We got moved off the line of scrimmage, we did not tackle as well and we did not get lined up a couple of times. It is something that is very frustrating and correctable, so we are going to correct it.” At 1-1, Muschamp reminded his players and fans of the motto his team had adopted, “Every week is a season.” “We’ve got a lot of football ahead of us,” he said. “Overall, we need to continue to improve, and we will.” September 2018
Bryan Edwards shows he’s also one of best receivers in country By Josh Hyber/Staff writer Against Georgia on Sept. 9, Edwards caught seven passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns, including a 44-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Jake Bentley. In the first half, Carolina cut its deficit to 14-6 with a trick play in which receiver Deebo Samuel took an end-around handoff from Bentley and threw a touchdown pass to a wide-open Edwards. The performance marked the first time Edwards had scored two touchdowns in one game and gave him three in the first two games of the season and 12 for his career. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior moved into 10th on the school’s all-time receptions list. “We have to continue to get [Bryan] the ball more and create some one-on-ones more and more,” Muschamp said. “He’s a good football player and a competitive young man.”
But for a player who finished fifth in catches and eighth in receiving yards in the SEC last season, the soft-spoken Edwards, at times, gets overshadowed by Samuel, who scored his 16th career touchdown in the season opener. “I don’t really feel as if I’m underrated,” Edwards told Spurs & Feathers. “Deebo’s the guy who had six touchdowns in two games or whatever it was. I just kind of feed off of him. He gets a lot of the press for that, but I don’t really feel underrated. I feel like if you turn on the tape and watch us play, you’ll say that, ‘Oh, 89s a good player.’” “Bryan has been able to take care of our wide receiver group the last two years,” Bentley said. “To be able to come in as a freshman and contribute to our offense, that’s something not a lot of people do in college. He had a big year last year. “… He’s definitely one of the best receivers in the nation as well.”
WR Deebo Samuel threw his second career TD pass against Georgia, an 8-yarder to Bryan Edwards.
S Steven Montac led SC with seven tackles against Georgia. LB Sherrod Greene was second with a career-high six stops.
With six catches against Georgia, Deebo Samuel tied Ace Sanders for 18th on the career receptions list with 99. Samuel moved into 21st in career receiving yards with 1,283. September 2018
DB Rashad Fenton had his third career interception against Georgia.
NUMBERS THAT MATTER
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Photo by Allen Sharpe
ill Muschamp often tells the story about his first day on the job as South Carolina’s head football coach, when he took a drive to Richland Northeast High School to recruit T.J. Brunson and then hopped on a flight to Conway to recruit Bryan Edwards. Muschamp went to Edwards’ home and met with the four-star recruit and his family. “I’m sitting there that night and I didn’t feel really good,” Muschamp remembered. “When you are sitting in the living room, you kinda want to have a landscape of who everybody is. And I felt pretty good about who everybody was — who was for us and who was against us. And then his grandfather walks in, and he played at Clemson. And I went, ‘This ain’t good.’ “But we came through. Bryan saw the light and came to South Carolina and is having a fabulous career.”
Ph o t o
Jake Bentley completed 30 of 47 pass attempts against Georgia, the second time in his career he has completed 30 or more passes in a game. Bentley also set a career high for pass attempts.
With seven catches for 111 yards, Edwards moved passed Cory Boyd for 10th in career receptions with 119. He also moved into 14th in career receiving yards with 1,547.
30 GEORGIA RECAP • FOOTBALL
Carolina vs coastal carolina Photos by Allen Sharpe, jenny dilworth
Carolina vs georgia Photos by Allen Sharpe, jenny dilworth
For rookies, making an NFL roster an indescribable feeling By Langston Moore/Contributing writer
ig checks coming, big checks coming, big checks coming.” This is the song I hear NFL veterans chanting. When I made an NFL 53-man roster for the very first time, I was chanting it, too. I can’t explain the emotions that were bouncing around inside of me. I didn’t get that feeling when I got drafted. I didn’t get that feeling when I made the practice squad the year before. Making the opening day roster was indescribable. It’s the most validating feeling I ever
had as a football player. It was also mixed with the most anxious feelings I ever had, especially for someone who had penciled in “NFL Football” as an essential part of the plan. Actually making it was vital to my future. In making the 53-man roster, one has to portray some sort of defiance, an “I knew I was straight all along” kind of stance, all the while knowing you are literally playing for your pecking order on
Catch Langston’s video series “All Gasser No Breaks” as he interviews a Gamecock player each week at spursandfeathers.com.
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the final roster. Every practice rep, every pregame rep is a plus or a minus. If you want to get those “big checks” and hope to get even “bigger checks” in the future, you better make plays. No pressure. For those drafted in the first two rounds, you don’t have to fret about making the team. Unless you’re horrible, but then you still can make it the first season or two. Why? One, the NFL team that drafted
you has money invested and doesn’t want to cut its losses yet. You get more of a leash. Two, if you’re that terrible and you’re selected early, that’s the organization’s fault. They won’t be quick to admit guilt and look foolish. With the NFL being comprised of more late-round picks and free agents (there’s only 32 first-round picks) making the roster is a BIG DEAL. All of the doubts and insecurities you had are washed away. Having one of 32 NFL teams tell you “OK, you can stay” takes your confidence to new heights. Plus, you are about to get BIG CHECKS for the next 16 weeks (you only get paid 16 times a year in the NFL), so you don’t lack financial confidence either. “Seeing my name on the NFL practice jersey and on my locker was crazy after I made the final 53,” said former Gamecock and 11-year NFL veteran Shaun Smith, who made it as an undrafted free agent. Little things you may have taken for granted in pursuit of your dream now are appreciated. Something as simple as picture day, for instance. I played sports forever and have always taken a team picture. But when you make the 53-man roster, the first thing you
do is take a team picture without an army of guys not in the picture because they got cut. Suddenly, I cared more about a team picture than ever before. And it’s not like I played on a Super Bowl team that year. After the picture, your daily routine of meetings and practice continues, but it’s different. “Just being in that meeting room after making the 53-man was a great feeling but also I felt bad for the guys who didn’t make it,” said Smith, who played at South Carolina in 2001-2002. You’ve sat in these team meetings before, but it still has a weird feeling. Why? Partly because you survived. Because you worked your tail off and because you earned it. As Smith put it, “I had to pinch myself, it didn’t seem real.” Opening week of the NFL season is filled with all types of emotions and expectations. You may have cried and had your emotional moment with your family, and that’s taxing. You have grand ideas about the first game of the season. All the expectations from the team and the ones you have for yourself personally are very taxing. There have been plenty of Gamecocks who made it to the NFL. There are a few who had to make it the long, hard way — as undrafted free agents. Like Smith and Tori Gurley, Skai Moore and Taylor Stallworth both made it as rookies this season. Moore started for the Colts, which speaks volumes about the player we knew him to be but also about the other teams that bypassed him. Stallworth and Moore will begin collecting NFL checks and memories this season. Hopefully, that will continue for some time because when football is over, all any player really has are memories and money. Now it’s time to repeat the not so popular NFL refrain: “Save everything, young rook.” Former Gamecock star Langston Moore played for South Carolina from 1999-2002 and for seven seasons in the NFL. He is the sideline reporter for Gamecock football on the IMG Sports Network and is co-author of the children’s book #JustAChicken. You can reach him on Twitter at @removethechains or @JustAChicken. September 2018
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Gamecock ambassador Tori Gurley hopes to give voice to Carolina athletes through budding TV career By Brad Muller | SC Athletics
ori Gurley knows all about the highs and lows of playing football and everything in between. Now the former South Carolina and professional wide receiver is using his experience to make a name for himself as a television sports analyst with weekly appearances on the SEC Network. “I want to eventually land a full-time contract, and I want to be a great ambassador for all South Carolina sports,” Gurley said. “We’ve had too many great athletes come through here, and I don’t think they get the national notoriety that they should. We have to have someone there on television to always remind them about Marcus Lattimore, Alshon Jeffery or Stephon Gilmore and all the others. “It’s not all about football. You have A’ja Wilson, who is an all-star in the WNBA. I want to branch off and cover all sports, so we can talk about Jackie Bradley Jr. (baseball) and all the others as well.” Gamecock fans knew Gurley as a tremendous receiving threat during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Gurley now appears as a weekly guest on the SEC Network and he’s hoping to expand that role. His new career came to fruition as Gurley
FOOTBALL • TORI GURLEY
Photos by SC Athletics
went back to school through South Carolina’s Degree Completion Program after leaving the University early to pursue a professional football career following his redshirt sophomore season. He was taking a class during each offseason to finish his psychology degree when he found other educational opportunities after a conversation with Lattimore, a former teammate and the program’s current Director of Player Development. “It truly started with me sitting in the office with Marcus and having a conversation last November,” Gurley said. “I said that I wanted to be the ambassador for South Carolina sports on a national level. I reached out to Greg Brannon, a professor in the Journalism Department here at the University of South Carolina. I went to visit him and [former women’s basketball star] Allisha Gray was there. So he put us on a [journalism department] show and I got some reps. It was a heck of an opportunity.” Gurley attended the NFL’s Broadcast Bootcamp last April, where he made a good impression on some network television executives. “That led me to being on ESPN,” Gurley said. “It gave me the
opportunity to go to London this year to cover all the games there with the NFL. The NFL has the Broadcast Bootcamp every year because it’s probably one of the most sought-out careers for former players, outside of coaching. I think over 1,500 guys applied, and only 25 got in. I sent in my audition tape and they liked what they saw.” Gurley has always found a way to stand out and he’s always found a way to bounce back from adversity. He originally committed to the University of North Carolina to play football and basketball but decided to come to South Carolina.
His dad died on Mother’s Day the year prior to his arrival on campus and Tori changed his last name from Childers to Gurley in honor of his late father. “That had a tremendous impact on me,” Gurley said. “My father lived in Las Vegas. He and Dell Curry were college [basketball] teammates at Virginia Tech, and I really grew up with them. Dell was my basketball coach. When I was being recruited, I was looking for a father figure. I didn’t realize that at the time. My mother did an excellent job with me, but I needed more. I was fortunate to have great September 2018
teammates and a lot of those guys showed me how to work and better myself. It made me a better man being here.” Gurley admits that basketball was his first love, but he couldn’t beat his childhood friend and NBA superstar, Steph Curry, in a game of “horse.” After a redshirt season, Gurley made an impact in 2009 with 31 catches and pair of touchdowns. He also endured some frustration as three touchdown receptions were nullified due to penalties, but he continued to shine in 2010 as South Carolina’s second-leading receiver behind Alshon Jeffery, while helping the Gamecocks win their first SEC East title. He tied a school record that year with 14 catches in a win at Vanderbilt. He left after that season to pursue a professional career, but his education was still important, and it wasn’t long before he was back in the classroom to finish his degree. “I want to set an example for the guys who do leave school early,” Gurley said. “I was advised to stay in school, but I had a situation at home where I wanted to be sure I could take care of my family. I knew football was a short window
and I wanted the opportunity to focus on just that, try to make as much money as I can in the NFL, and when it was over, I was going to come back and finish school because that was a promise I made to myself and to my mother. “To fulfill that was probably one of the best moments of my life. It validated all the hard work. It took me 10 years to graduate because every offseason I would come back and take one class at a time. That
was before online classes were as accessible as they are now. “It was definitely weird coming back because I was the oldest one in class and I was the only one using a pen and paper. Everybody else had iPads and laptops. It was pretty cool being older because I had more respect for my professors and I was always sitting in the front of the class. I tried to be an example.” Originally signed as a free agent by the Green Bay Packers in 2011, Gurley spent time with seven NFL teams over the next four seasons before playing in the Canadian Football League for the last two years of his career. He admits there were times he struggled as his athletics career came to an end. “I was depressed. I was crying out for help,” he said. “I was able to use the NFL to go get help. I joined some small groups and started working with high school athletes. I realized it wasn’t all about me. One of my biggest inspirations was watching Marcus [Lattimore] when he was coaching at a high school. I saw the joy he had in his eyes working with young men and I thought I could do the same in my hometown. So I did that. From there I felt better about myself and realized I
wasn’t just an athlete; I’m a man.” In addition to his appearances on the SEC Network, Gurley has been putting himself out there with a series of videos on social media titled “Run Your Own Race, The Untold Story of an Undrafted Free Agent.” He also makes regular appearances for the Gamecock Club, moderating an event last year in Charlotte and speaking in August at the Charleston Gamecock Club’s football kickoff event. “I share stories about being a college and professional athlete,” Gurley said. “There are a lot of things that get overlooked when it comes to professional sports. Most people don’t understand the day-today grind it takes to be a pro. I can share that with everyone, so today’s players can understand what is expected of them, day in and day out.” As he builds his resume with his own efforts on social media, Gurley looks forward to bringing his insights and experiences to a bigger audience any chance he gets. “I want to give South Carolina a voice. People sometimes overlook us, and we’ve got something special going on. I’m just so happy to be an insider.”
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TORI GURLEY • FOOTBALL
Photo courtesy of the Las Vegas Aces
Coming up aces
TLANTA — Forty-two minutes and 55 seconds before the Las Vegas Aces and Atlanta Dream tipped off at McCamish Pavilion on Aug. 7, fans near the court stood and cheered as one of the Aces rookies took the court for pregame warmups. They clapped and sang happy birthday and made their presence felt, as if their garnet and black paraphernalia didn’t do that enough. The South Carolina women’s basketball fans — about 500 — traveled I-20 West to see the Aces’ No. 22: A’ja Wilson, the former Gamecock star. Eva Wilson, A’ja’s mom, stood on the concourse at halftime and beamed with pride. “Wow,” she told Spurs & Feathers. “To see all these Gamecocks here, and Las Vegas Aces fans here, it really, really means the world to our family. Particularly on the Gamecock side, because A’ja is a Gamecock for life. “I know it means a lot to her. I’m sure she has cried already.” The night, despite the Aces falling to the Atlanta Dream, was a celebration of Wilson’s spectacular rookie season. She averaged rookie highs of 20.7 points (tied for third in the league), eight rebounds (sixth) and 1.67 blocks (sixth) and was unanimously selected WNBA Rookie of the Year. “She already is a face of the league,” Aces guard Kayla McBride said. “Once we start winning more and get in the playoffs more, that’s when you’ll see it more.” “I think she is now,” Aces guard Kelsey Plum said of Wilson’s face of the league status. “I think she will continue to be with the way she handles herself.
That’s somebody that’s going to take us to the next level in our league. That’s someone who’s respected on a basketball level. Not men’s, women’s, she plays basketball. People realize that she is special.” An All-Star selection, Wilson swept all three WNBA Rookie of the Month awards. She was also named the WNBA Western Conference Player of the Week for July 2-8. Behind Wilson, the Aces (14-20) improved their record by six games from the 2017 season. “My success really has surprised me a lot,” Wilson told Spurs & Feathers. “I wasn’t expecting to come in and do this. It has definitely been a lot of fun and I’m just taking it all in stride. Every day is a new day to get better and I’m just going to keep pushing.” The August game in Atlanta wasn’t just another midweek game. There was a palpable sense of Gamecock Nation. Section 111 in Atlanta could have been Section 104 at Colonial Life Arena. SC head coach Dawn Staley and assistant coach Lisa Boyer made the trip, as did Eva Wilson, A’ja’s dad Roscoe and her brother Renaldo. Well-known Gamecock fans Michael Sullivan, Sparkle Clark and Marian Davis were there. “We watched her grow up and we’re just shocked at how awesome she has done her rookie year,” said Clark, who also wore a replica of Wilson’s signature pearl necklace. “We’ve been planning this even before she got drafted. “I’m so happy for her. I had chill bumps. She’s blessed, and she just spreads it to everybody.” Clark was born and raised in Columbia and graduated from the University in 1987. But A’ja turned
Gamecock great A’ja Wilson already becoming a face of WNBA By Josh Hyber/Staff writer 28
BASKETBALL • A’JA WILSON
Photo by Josh Hyber
“It’s expected,” she said. “Gamecock Nation always shows up and shows that love.” Staley saw Wilson play three times during the season and wasn’t surprised by her success. “When you factor in [Aces head coach] Bill [Laimbeer] putting the ball in her hands and letting her go, she doesn’t have to think about anything,” Staley said. “… When a player has that freedom and that confidence, knowing that their coach has that confidence in them, [they respond]. “…She’s probably one of the best stretch fours that the league has seen in a long time.” And all along the way the support from Gamecock fans won’t waver. Before the game in Atlanta, fans wearing red — both the garnet of the Gamecocks and bright red of the Aces — chanted her name. They were either chanting “Let’s Go A’ja!” or “Let’s Go Aces!” Said Eva Wilson, “Whatever it is, whether it’s Aces or A’ja, it’s still good.”
TEAM: Las Vegas Aces
• 2018 National Player of the Year
SCORING: 20.7 (3rd in WNBA)
• Three-time SEC POY
REBOUNDING: 8.0 (6th in WNBA)
• Three-time SEC Defensive POY
• Four-time All-American
BLOCKS: 1.67 (6th in WNBA)
• 2017 Final Four MVP
• Leslie Award winner as nation’s top center
• All-time leading scorer at South Carolina
HONORS: • WNBA Rookie of the Year
• Led Gamecocks to 2016-17 national championship
• WNBA All-Star • Three-time WNBA Rookie of the Month • Seventh in WNBA MVP voting
THE A’J A FILE
her love for Gamecock women’s basketball to another level. “A’ja has everything you would want in an athlete to admire and to follow,” Clark said. “She is the complete package.” Across the court sat Aislyn Jowers — a freshman at Chapin High School — and her parents Michelle and Gregg. “A’ja’s just a good role model,” said Aislyn, who also made the trip to Nashville to see the Gamecocks in the SEC Tournament. “She decided to stay at South Carolina, which was a big deal. As a basketball player, she’s a good role model with a good personality.” Dianne Durham and her husband Louie Hawkins traveled four and a half hours to watch A’ja. “We said, ‘Heck, she’s close, let’s do it,” said Dianne. “Her personality, her talent, she’s just really good. The first time we came down, she was a freshman. That did it. We’ve had season tickets ever since.” Staley wasn’t surprised by the amount of garnet in the crowd.
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A’JA WILSON • BASKETBALL
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USA Basketball exhibition has Gamecock feel By Josh Hyber/Staff writer
wo minutes remained in the first quarter of the Sept. 5 basketball exhibition at Colonial Life Arena when Ty Harris stole the ball from an unexpecting opponent. The guard took a few dribbles and
threw an outlet pass, but it was intercepted by Allisha Gray. Gray dribbled up court, curled around a pick and hit a jump shot in the lane. Yes, that Ty Harris, and yes,
that Allisha Gray. South Carolina’s current star guard and former star guard were two of four Gamecocks who played in the USA Basketball exhibition. A’ja Wilson (class of 2018) joined her good friend Gray (’17) on Team White, 100-75 winners over Tiffany Mitchell (’16), Harris (’20) and Team Red. Dawn Staley, the South Carolina and Team USA head coach, sat courtside with Gamecock assistant and USA scout/coach Lisa Boyer. “I don’t know who to yell for because we’ve got people on both teams,” one fan sitting courtside said as Wilson took the opening tip. Wilson led all Gamecocks with 14 points. She also grabbed six rebounds. Gray had 13 points and four rebounds, while Harris had six points on two 3s and Mitchell added five points, two rebounds and two assists. “Each and every one of those players, whether if I coached them for four years or I’m currently coaching them, they all aspire to become WNBA players and Olympians,” Staley said. “And I get to be a part of that journey. “I didn’t know I was going to be the national team coach, but because I am now I get to share some
precious moments with them and also hopefully help them achieve what they want to be, and that’s an Olympian and a gold medalist.” Wilson and Mitchell were among 16 finalists selected for the 2018 USA Women’s World Cup Team, which traveled to Antibes, France for a fourteam international tournament Sept. 15-17. The 12-player roster for the 2018 FIBA World Cup and the 2020 U.S. Olympic team will be selected from that list. “I definitely felt the love from Gamecock Nation and I enjoyed myself and had fun tonight,” Mitchell said. The night had a Gamecock feel from the start. Mitchell was the second of 18 players on the court for warmups. At 5:56 p.m., Boyer walked in with Staley’s Havanese puppy, Champ. Nine minutes later, Wilson and Harris walked in. “It was fun being back in Columbia, being back in my second home, it was great,” Gray said. “And being able to reunite with everybody, old teammates, overall it was a great experience. “... We Gamecocks kind of hung out the whole weekend. You never know when we’ll be in one location again.”
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2018-19 Men’s Basketball Schedule Oct. 26 Augusta (exhibition) Nov. 6 USC Upstate Nov. 9 Stony Brook Nov. 13 Norfolk State Nov. 17 Providence (Uncasville, Conn.) Nov. 18 George Washington/ Michigan (Uncasville, Conn.) Nov. 26 Wofford Nov. 30 Coastal Carolina Dec. 5 at Wyoming Dec. 8 at Michigan Dec. 19 Virginia Dec. 22 Clemson Dec. 31 North Greenville Jan. 5 at Florida Jan. 8 Miss State Jan. 12 Missouri Jan. 16 at Vanderbilt Jan. 19 at LSU Jan. 22 Auburn Jan. 26 at Oklahoma State Jan. 29 Tennessee Feb. 2 at Georgia Feb. 5 at Kentucky Feb. 9 Arkansas Feb. 13 at Tennessee Feb. 16 Texas A&M Feb. 19 Ole Miss Feb. 23 at Miss State Feb. 26 Alabama March 2 at Missouri March 5 at Texas A&M March 9 Georgia March 13 SEC Tournament (Nashville)
Photo by Allen Sharpe
BASKETBALL • MEN & SCHEDULES
2018-19 Women’s Basketball Schedule Nov. 2
at Alabama State
Nov. 15 Clemson Nov. 18 Maryland Nov.
Nov. 28 Dayton Dec. 2
Dec. 21 Temple Dec. 30 Furman Photo by Allen Sharpe
Martin lands his ‘most talented freshmen class’ at South Carolina By Josh Hyber/Staff writer
rank Martin doesn’t care about star rankings and recruiting websites. He cares about people, process and how incoming players fit his system and culture. He also cares about talent, and the man entering his seventh season as South Carolina’s men’s basketball coach knows it when he sees it. “[We have] the most talented freshmen class that we’ve signed in my time here,” Martin said Aug. 22 at the My Carolina Alumni Association Sports Preview. “Our assistants did an unbelievable job in identifying guys that are real good and fit who we are. “… When you go to the Final Four, everyone thinks that impacts recruiting that March. That’s not when it impacts recruiting. It impacts recruiting for the following class.” Added the coach, “[Everyone wants to] pay attention to the ones we don’t get, but pay attention to the ones we did get. Because those are the ones that are going to be proud to wear that Carolina on their chest.” The 2018-19 class includes three-star prospects Alanzo Frink, AJ Lawson, Jermaine Couisnard, T.J. Moss and Keyshawn Bryant. It does not, however, include Duke freshman Zion Williamson, a Spartanburg, S.C. product and the nation’s top recruit who was believed to be considering the Gamecocks. “I can say this name now because it’s over. I would have loved to have coached Zion Williamson,” Martin said. “We came in second. I don’t know what to tell you. He chose somewhere else. But I know this, the guy we did get, Alanzo Frink, he’s going to hurt somebody.” Martin said that South Carolina’s recruiting is in a good place. “We pick up the phone and call people, they’re telling us about us,” the coach said. “We don’t have to tell them about us. And that’s what gets me excited. Everyone knows the Gamecocks. “That Block C is a popular stamp. … But now when I or one of my assistants calls a recruit, they know about the Gamecock men’s basketball team. And that’s the biggest difference. Before you had to convince them to pay attention. Now they pay attention on their own.”
at Texas A&M
Jan. 10 Florida Jan. 13
at Miss State
Jan. 21 Missouri Jan. 28 Vanderbilt Jan. 31
Feb. 14 Georgia Feb. 17
Feb. 21 Kentucky Feb. 24
March 3 Miss State March 6 SEC Tournament (Greenville, S.C.)
Photo by Artie Walker
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NAME TO REMEMBER
“I was always the first one to volunteer to play goalkeeper,” she said. “I just thought it was so cool that I was the only one working with my hands. Getting to dive and jump around, I just thought that was so much fun.” Like quarterbacks, which someone once told her are like goalkeepers, she tries to keep the game simple. She describes herself as powerful and demanding. “I’m not the tallest out there, so if I sound like I’m 10-feet tall, that’s all that needs to be. I like to be aggressive,” she said. “My teammates will tell you, they won’t stop hearing me talk back there.” Krzeczowski thrives on pressure. She pitched a 1-0 shutout against Florida to capture the SEC regular-season title last year and shut out the Gators 2-0 a month later in the Elite Eight. “Obviously, if you make one mistake back there, it’s more than likely going to be a goal,” she said. The Douglasville, Ga. native has benefitted from a stellar back line, one that returned Grace Fisk, the 2017 SEC Defender of the Year. The junior, who spent time at the beginning of the season playing for England at the U-20 World Cup, scored two game-winning goals last
season and was a unanimous vote for team captain this season. The defense also features returning starters in Tatumn Milazzo, the first player Smith mentioned when asked about leadership, and sophomore Jackie Schaefer, someone Smith said looked “great” during preseason camp. Krzeczowski is also lighthearted and a source of fun for the Gamecocks. She even wore a sombrero at one of the team’s youth clinics. “I was coaching the Mad Tacos,” she said. “They voluntarily gave me that and I just wanted to make the kids happy. If they want to dress us up, we just let them do it.” But there’s no mistaking Krzeczowski’s skill. If the Gamecocks are going to advance deep into the NCAA Tournament like they did last season, it will be Krzeczowski — along with offensive threats Elexa Bahr, Lauren Chang, Luciana Zullo and Jyllissa Harris — who leads the way. “Every year we try to raise the bar,” Krzeczowski said. “Reaching the Final Four and breaking records, making program history is huge. That’ll be the new standard almost every year.”
Krzeczowski looks to lead Gamecocks back to Final Four
he first question South Carolina junior Mikayla Krzeczowski received at the Gamecocks’ Media Day session in August was, predictably, about the spelling of her name. “Mikayla Krzeczowski,” she said. “M-i-k-a-y-l-a-K-r-z-e-c-z-ow-s-k-i.” How many players on the team do you think can do that? “Oh, man,” she responded. “I’d go with three. Probably three. … People try to go for the [Mike] Krzyzewski look with mine. And I’m like, ‘No, you can actually say the K.’” Spelling it may be a stretch, but South Carolina fans should at least learn how to pronounce it. After all, the goalkeeper has become one of the country’s best at her position. An All-SEC second-teamer last season, Krzeczowski had a
SOCCER • MIKAYLA KRZECZOWSKI
0.48 goals-against average and 14 shutouts in leading the Gamecocks to the Final Four. “Mikayla is very confident. She’s vocal. She’s aggressive,” Gamecock head coach Shelley Smith said. “She’s not a tall goalkeeper, but she makes up for it with her positioning. She’ll come out in traffic and win a ball. Decisive. All the things you want in a goalkeeper. She just comes up with big saves and reads games so well.” Krzeczowski had that same 0.48 goals-against average through South Carolina’s first seven games this season. Against Wake Forest she recorded the 28th shutout of her career, the third most in Gamecock history. Krzeczowski, a 5-foot-6 ball of energy, began playing the position full time when she was 12.
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POINT TO PROVE
campaign — as a building block. Through five games, the Gamecocks were 1-4 and had been outscored 7-2. Despite having the goal of winning all 12 of its home games, the Gamecocks were 1-2 at Stone Stadium. The team is led by Mayr, a first-team all-conference selection last season, when he started all 17 games and led the team in points (18), goals (6) and assists (6). At press time, Mayr had 18 shots, eight more than anyone else on the roster. The Austria native is joined on the attack by sophomore Ben Gilligan, who was tied for third on the team in points (7) last season. Berson also pointed to junior Tucker Monheimer and freshmen Seth Wiebusch and Andrew Halloran as players who can contribute on the attack. The midfield position is led by the sophomore trio of Justin Sukow, who finished second on the team (12) in points last season, Mitchell Myers — who, to use Berson’s word, had a “spectacular” spring — and Petter Soelberg. South Carolina’s defense and goalkeeping positions are more uncertain.
Keeper Will Pyle graduated after starting 52 of the past 57 games in net for the Gamecocks. Senior Ian McGrane started all the team’s first five games and allowed 1.39 goals per game. The defense is led by Ericson, a three-year starter and a captain last season. “My role on the team is to be a bruiser,” Ericson said. “And that’s what I’m going to do. If you see me fouling a lot of people, or if you’re wondering who that is, it’s probably me.” Freshmen Josh Corning — who’s from Chapin, S.C. — and Elijah Bebout, senior Paul Quildies and junior Aleksander Bjerke Christensson have formed the nucleus of the team’s back line. South Carolina is surely young, but it’s talented and ready to make a statement. “We talked about [the C-USA coaches ranking] our first day in, we saw where we’re at,” Sukow said. “That’s just what the coaches think of us. We can obviously prove them wrong and we believe we have the talent on our team to do so.”
Men’s soccer determined to return to NCAAs, elite status By Josh Hyber
he message Mark Berson delivered to his team as it entered training camp this year was clear: Be the players you’re supposed to be. Be the players you know you are. Don’t be something you’re not. Well, what the Gamecocks were — despite failing to make the NCAA tournament after two seasons of reaching the round of 32 — was confident. Confident because they finished 2-0-1 in their last three Conference-USA games last season and returned seven of their top eight point-getters. South Carolina had lofty goals entering this season, despite C-USA coaches ranking them seventh in the nine-team league in its preseason poll. “We’re definitely going to prove them wrong and win our conference,” said junior midfielder Luca Mayr, who led the team with 18
points last season. “We’re expected to make the [NCAA] tournament,” senior midfielder Peyton Ericson said. “We should be up there and be in the top 25 every week. We have the talent to. We have the facilities to. We have the resources to. It’s almost like we let the athletic department down when we don’t make it. “It’s something that we should be making every year. It’s what we strive for. We say just make the tournament, but no, we’re trying to make elite eights, final fours and national championships. So that’s the goal for this year.” SC finished 6-9-2 last season but fared decently against some of its better opponents. (A 1-0 win over No. 13 Furman, a 0-0 tie against No. 4 North Carolina, a 2-1 loss to No. 2 Wake Forest.) The Gamecocks are using the end of last season — and a strong 4-0 spring
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Reason to cheer New head coach Tom Mendoza has Gamecocks off to fast start By Josh Hyber/Staff writer
outh Carolina played Clemson on Aug. 25 in front of a recordsetting crowd at the Carolina Volleyball Center. Just shy of 2,000 fans were on hand to see the Palmetto State rivals, and at least 250 more — who waited in a nearby hallway— were allowed to enter after other fans had left. The Gamecocks beat the Tigers in straight sets for program victory No. 800. Not a bad weekend Tom Mendoza. “What we’re trying to do as a volleyball program is show [South Carolina fans] how exciting volleyball can be when we’re competing at the highest level,” the first-year head coach said. “Our goal is to give them more meaningful matches to cheer us on.” Senior libero Aubrey Ezell said young girls came up to her after the match and told her their families drove two hours to be there. “It’s so awesome to come in here and know as soon as an opponent walks in they’re going to be bombarded by everything South Carolina,” sophomore Mikayla Shields said. “… Our team relishes that atmosphere. We thrive off that.” On Jan. 3, Mendoza became the 13th head coach in the program’s 45-year history. He previously spent
VOLLEYBALL • MENDOZA
two seasons as head coach at High Point University, where he led the Panthers to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances. “As you talk with the staff of the athletic department, the coaches around different programs, the student-athletes within our program and the recruits, [you can tell] South Carolina is a special place,” Mendoza said at his introductory news conference. “I think this program can be a special program.” “He came in and said, ‘We have all the potential in the world,’” Shields said. Mendoza updated that claim in August. “We’re trying to prepare our players to be successful nationally,” he said. “That means putting together a schedule that’s going to give us an opportunity to make the NCAA Tournament.” The team was 9-1 entering a mid-September tournament in Virginia and had strong contributions from its nucleus. Shields, who had 429 kills and was named to the All-SEC team last season, had 116 kills. “She’s a pretty high-level player, and the thing that’s exciting about her is that she brings that every day,” Mendoza said. “… Her
consistent play is probably the most important thing she can do for the team. She’ll speak up in a leadership role, but I think more than anything she leads by example.” Ezell, who made the SEC All-Freshman team in 2015 and is a two-time SEC Setter of the Week, had 35 aces, more than twice as many as anyone in the conference. She was also tied for seventh in the conference in digs. “She’s such a talented player that we really want to give a little bit more help to her so that her role is more clearly defined,” Mendoza said. “So she doesn’t feel like she has to do everything and stay within herself a little bit.” “She is an energy player. She brings grit and fight,” Shields said. “She’s the libero, she doesn’t let the ball drop.” Sophomore Jess Vastine, a former high school All-American, finished second on the team with 332 serve receptions last season. “We’re asking her to carry a big load, as far as playing six rotations and she’s handled that really well,” Mendoza said. Sophomore Mikayla Robinson was named to the SEC All-Freshman team last season and was named SEC co-Defensive Player of
the Week on Sept. 10. “She’s got some pretty high goals for herself, so we want to make sure we’re doing our job preparing her to play, whether it’s for the national team or overseas after college,” Mendoza said. Junior Courtney Koehler has become the glue for the Gamecocks and, entering the tournament in Virginia, ranked sixth in the conference in assists. “The most important thing she can do is keep us organized,” Mendoza said. “How well she’s playing is really reflected in how well other people are playing. If other players are having good games, you can look at Courtney and she’s doing her job facilitating, making our bad passes look like good passes and putting our hitters in good situations.” Now Mendoza, and the growing number of South Carolina volleyball fans, will find out how quickly the Gamecocks can become elite. “A program is built of so many different areas. You have to get them all to where you want to be,” Mendoza said. “We’ll get there. I don’t know if it’ll all happen in year one, but we’re taking steps forward.”
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Gift of Comfort Brooke Gostomskiâ€™s passion for giving is personal By Brad Muller/SC Athletics â€˘ Photos from SC Athletics
rooke Gostomskiâ€™s passion for giving back is personal. The South Carolina volleyball sophomore from Muskego, Wisc. crochets blankets for hospice patients in her spare time.Â â€œI was looking for stuff that I could do for community service when I went home because community service is such a big thing we do on our team,â€? Gostomski said. â€œI found an online ad for Heartland Hospice in Milwaukee, and it said they were looking for people to crochet blankets to give to their patients and their families as sort of a comfort thing.Â â€œWhen I saw hospice, it hit home with me because my dad [Keith] had passed away when I was 14. He was in a hospice facility and we actually had received a
blanket. I asked my mom to pull it out for me because I had never seen it before. I realized that it stays with peopleâ€™s families, even after the person is gone. â€œMy mom will always think of my dad when she sees that. Itâ€™s really special to me, so I really wanted to do this.â€? As a pharmacy major and a student-athlete, Gostomski doesnâ€™t always have a lot of spare time, but she was still willing to take the time to learn something new in addition to all her other commitments. â€œI never heard of crocheting, so I Googled it and watched a lot of YouTube videos,â€? Gostomski said. â€œAfter that, I thought, I could do this! People seemed to enjoy getting these, so I thought it
was a way I could help people.â€? Gostomski taught herself the craft last year, but it wasnâ€™t easy. â€œI didnâ€™t realize how long it would take me to do one blanket,â€? Gostomski said. â€œIt took me about 20 hours to make a big, full-sized blanket. But the first time I took a blanket over to hospice, the people were so inviting and happy to be getting it. They were holding it up and showing it to everyone in the building. â€œOnce you get going, you can do a lot of other things while youâ€™re doing it, like watch a movie or something like that. I can sit down for about five hours and maybe get done with one-fourth of the blanket, but you just have to keep going because itâ€™s worth it in the end.â€? Serving the community is nothing new for South Carolina student-athletes, as the Gamecocks have led the SEC in service hours for each of the last five years. The volleyball team took home South Carolinaâ€™s Community Outreach Team of the Year award for the third straight year after notching a department-best 49 hours of service per student-athlete. That culture of giving back is a good fit for Gostomski.
â€œI do the blankets and I volunteer at Pawmetto Lifeline a lot with the dogs and cats,â€? Gostomski said. â€œThatâ€™s just become a part of my life. Iâ€™ll look forward to helping the dogs and cats when Iâ€™m here and when I go home I look forward to the crocheting. Itâ€™s just something I love.â€? While she canâ€™t bring the huge balls of yarn on road trips when traveling with the volleyball team, she looks forward to any opportunity to work on a blanket. â€œItâ€™s kind of therapeutic,â€? Gostomski said. â€œIt keeps my mind occupied. It calms me down. I can talk to somebody while Iâ€™m doing it or watch a movie. Itâ€™s become a really good thing.â€? As it turns out, Gostomski is not the only Gamecock studentathlete who has enjoyed crocheting for hospice patients, as former swimmer Bryce Kananowicz (2015-2018) learned and shared the craft as well.Â In addition to providing comfort to hospice patients and families, Gostomski has other fans of her new craft. â€œMy boyfriend wants one, so he already knows what heâ€™s getting for Christmas,â€? Gostomski said.
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BROOKE GOSTOMSKI â€˘ VOLLEYBALL
Gamecock News & Notes SC looking for 12th football game; softball to play in Puerto Rico
outh Carolina is looking to add a 12th game to the 2018 football schedule after canceling the Sept. 15 Marshall game due to Hurricane Florence. Carolina has an open date on Oct. 20 or could add a game at the end of the regular season. With the hurricane headed toward the South Carolina coast, University officials canceled the Marshall game to free up hotels in the Midlands for evacuees and allow emergency personnel to be used in areas impacted by the storm. Other South Carolina athletic teams, including soccer, volleyball and cross country, also had events canceled due to the storm.
SOFTBALL South Carolina will play outside the United States for the first time in program history in the 2019
NEWS & NOTES
Puerto Vallarta Challenge Feb. 7-10. The Gamecocks, coming off a 49-17 season in which they finished third in the SEC and reached their second-ever Super Regional, will face BYU, Baylor, Duke, Notre Dame and North Carolina. The tournament will also feature Washington and Liberty as six of the eight teams reached the postseason in 2018.
BASEBALL South Carolina’s recruiting class has been ranked No. 21 in the nation by Baseball America. South Carolina is one of nine SEC schools in the top 25. The 2019 class features four players (Josiah Sightler, Andrew Eyster, Brady Allen and Wes Clarke) who were selected in the 2018 MLB Draft. The Gamecocks were scheduled to start fall scrimmages Sept. 14
and are slated to play two scrimmages against ACC teams. The Gamecocks will host North Carolina State on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 2 p.m. and head to Georgia Tech on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 1 p.m. The Garnet and Black World Series is set for the final week of October.
BASKETBALL South Carolina men’s and women’s basketball will usher in the 2018-19 season by hosting the first ever Gamecock Tipoff event on Fri., Oct. 5 at Colonial Life Arena. Gamecock Tipoff will give fans the opportunity to meet the teams, get autographs, participate in contests to win prizes and watch the Gamecocks showcase their skills on the court. Admission is free for all students and fans. All seating will be first-come, first-served.
The women’s basketball team will have 16 games broadcast on national television in 2018-19. The Gamecocks will be featured as many as nine times on ESPN networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU) with another seven games airing on SEC Network. ESPN will air South Carolina’s Nov. 18 home game against Maryland, while ESPN2 will carry non-conference games against Baylor (Dec. 2), Purdue (Dec. 16) and UConn (Feb. 11) and SEC games against Missouri (Jan. 21), Tennessee (Feb. 24) and Mississippi State (March 3). ESPNU will air the home game against Alabama on Jan. 6. SEC Network will carry seven games – home games against Vanderbilt (Jan. 28), Georgia (Feb. 14) and Kentucky (Feb. 21) and road games at Texas A&M (Jan. 3),
Auburn Sept. 28, they will host SEC champion Georgia Oct. 5 and Texas A&M on Oct. 12. Carolina ends the fall season with five road meets, capped by a tri-meet at Fresno State.
Photo by Allen Sharpe
at LSU (Jan. 13), at Kentucky (Jan. 31) and at Arkansas (Feb. 3). South Carolina’s Jan. 17 trip to Mississippi State will air either on ESPN or SEC Network. Broadcast information for some other non-conference games was not available at press time.
EQUESTRIAN The South Carolina equestrian team enters the season ranked No.
8 in the NCEA preseason rankings. The Gamecocks finished 4-10 last season and ranked No. 8. Carolina is one of four SEC schools ranked in the top 10. The Gamecocks opened their season Sept. 22 by hosting No. 6 SMU. The Gamecocks will compete in 14 regular-season events, including seven home meets at One Wood Farm in Blythewood, S.C. After traveling to national champion
South Carolina women’s tennis has three singles players and three doubles teams ranked in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s (ITA) preseason national rankings for the first time in program history. In singles, senior Ingrid Gamarra Martins is ranked No. 45, while sophomore Megan Davies is No. 81 and junior Mia Horvit No. 96. In doubles, Gamarra Martins and Horvit are No. 20, while senior Paige Cline and Davies are No. 39 and senior Rachel Rohrabacher and junior Silvia Chinellato are No. 42. Men’s tennis player Paul Jubb is ranked No. 27 in the ITA preseason rankings. He and teammate Yancy Dennis are No. 49 in doubles. Jubb’s top-30 ranking is the highest for a South Carolina men’s player in the preseason poll since All-American Andrew Adams in 2014-15.
GOLF South Carolina tallied a 3-under 285 in the final round of the 2018 Carpet Capital Collegiate in Rocky Face, Ga. to finish T4 in the 15team tournament. Freshman Ryan Hall paced South Carolina with a 3-under 69, the low round of the tournament for the Gamecocks. Hall finished T-27th (+3) in his first collegiate tournament. Senior Will Miles carded a 71 (-1), his third consecutive round of par or better, to lead the team with a T-11th (-2) finish. Senior Scott Stevens continued his steady play with an even par 72 in round three to finish T-16th (E).
CROSS COUNTRY South Carolina’s Heather Stone was named the SEC Women’s Runner of the Week for her third-place performance at the Carolina Challenge, the first time Carolina has earned a Runner of the Week honor since 2013. The Gamecocks started the 2018-19 season by finishing third out of 12 teams at the Sandhill REC Course. Stone’s time of 17:48.8 was her personal best for a 5K and was the sixth-fastest in South Carolina history.
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NEWS & NOTES
Gamecocks, and fans, must continue to grow By Bill Gunter | Contributing writer
“In difficult times, we’re not supposed to quit believing; we’re not supposed to quit growing.” – JOEL OSTEEN
aybe you can take that quote and use it in your everyday life. Maybe South Carolina fans can apply it to Gamecock football. By the time you read this article, the Gamecocks may have played two more games. But after the loss to
Georgia, I wanted reflect on how Osteen’s quote pertains to Gamecock fans. In my opinion, the Gamecocks are heading in the right direction under Will Muschamp. There is no question there has been substantial growth in the first two seasons under his watch. That does not mean the program is where we all want it. But the difference in this football team compared to 2016 is undeniable. With that said, there is still a ways to go and that was evident when Georgia played a near mistake-free game that included a perfect third quarter en route to a 41-17 win. It was, as Osteen says, “a difficult time.” However, that does not mean we should quit believing in the Gamecocks or feel they have reached their peak under Muschamp. It may have shown fans just how much further the program has to go, but it was not a reason to quit believing. After the game, I got the feeling that some fans were not giving Georgia proper credit for just how
good it has become in a short period of time under Kirby Smart. Granted, it did not have as far to go as South Carolina, coming off back-to-back 10-win seasons under Mark Richt, but Smart has managed to make it into a recruiting monster and a team that plays to the level of its talent every week. And with Smart running the program, they do not appear close to slowing down anytime soon. But, as Osteen says, “we’re not supposed to quit growing.” That is exactly what the Gamecocks and the fan base must keep doing. South Carolina must continue to grow in big moments, and with so many young players that have not yet experienced those moments, that will take time. The game against the Bulldogs was a big moment and there were times when the Gamecocks appeared to take that step. After some early mistakes, South Carolina battled back before things went south in the third quarter. Still, there were plays that suggested they have grown and will continue to grow. By the time you read this, we
will have a good idea how much this year’s team has grown from the Georgia loss. Still, the program as a whole must continue to grow. And fans must not give up in difficult times. There is plenty of football still to be played and a nine- or even ten-win season is still possible. As Muschamp and his staff continue to rebuild, I encourage fans to stay the course as well. When things are not great on the field, do not give up but remember this is a process — one that is heading in the right direction and will make fans happy sooner rather than later.
Bill Gunter is the co-host of the Early Game on 107.5 The Game in Columbia. Follow him on Twitter at @WillGunter.
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Next to Lowes September 2018
Despite loss, talk of Carolina’s demise premature By Ed Girardeau | Contributing writer
a rp e
lore. Georgia came into Williams Brice ranked No. 5 in the country (Carolina was No. 6). Not unlike this year, the stadium was rocking. South Carolina poured it on and won 35-7. As entertaining and satisfying as that game was, the real fun started when I got home and went on the message boards to see the total meltdown of Dawg Nation. The world was coming to an end. The coaches didn’t know how to coach, the players couldn’t play a lick, and worst of all, South Carolina had passed Georgia and the Dawgs would never catch up. Music to the ears of Gamecock fans. l l A by Yep, Georgia was Ph o t o in a sad state. Carolina went on to another 11-2 season and finished 6-2 in the SEC. Georgia? Well, they went 12-2 and 7-1 and won the SEC East. The next year they beat South Carolina and have won four of five since. en
n my 50-plus years of going to Carolina football games, each year comes with great anticipation. Undefeated in August and dreams of running the table pop into all of our heads. The same is true this season. Get through that first game and let’s see where we are. Unfortunately, the result of the second game was not what we hoped for. Georgia came in as the runner-up in last year’s national championship game yet we were all expecting a close game and perhaps a South Carolina victory. All except Kirk Herbstreet of ESPN fame, who predicted a blowout for Georgia. Damn Herbstreet. I have to admit, I was very disappointed. I was not expecting a blowout. My reaction ranged from drats to, well, much stronger language and overall despair. Let’s go back to 2012, a much happier time in Gamecock-Dawg
Maybe their demise was a bit premature. And perhaps South Carolina’s demise this year is a bit premature as well. Face it, Georgia is pretty good and, as much I hate to admit it, probably great. It was a terrible loss, but it’s just one game. Carolina will bounce back. After the Georgia game, you could sense the disappointment in each player’s interview. Each took responsibility and vowed to come back better than ever. Interestingly, some said Georgia is a good team, but not that far ahead of Carolina. The one that struck me most was safety Steven Montac. Though I’m sure he’s been in press conferences before, he was still fully dressed. Pads, jersey, pants, still all in place, which is unusual. As I listened to him speak in a soft-spoken tone and with short answers, I realized I knew that feeling. Every athlete has experienced it. You don’t want to take the uniform off. Maybe it was a dream. How could this have happened? You are hoping that somehow, someway,
they’ll let you go back and try again. “It hurts. It hurts me real bad,” Montac said softly, with a look of anguish on his face. “But we can’t let this one game define our season.” They don’t let you go back. The only thing you can do is move on and win the next one. Keep winning and anything can happen. There’s still plenty of time to turn things around and make this a memorable season. Just don’t let one game define the season. With loyal devotion, remembering the days …
Ed Girardeau is a 1982 South Carolina graduate and has been a columnist for Spurs & Feathers since 2012. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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