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  1. ‘Gifted’ Jamyest Williams planning three-year career with Gamecocks May 12, 2017 The three years Jamyest Williams plans to spend on South Carolina’s football team would be the longest he’s ever been in one uniform. When Williams arrives on campus at the end of this month, he’ll have four years of eligibility in front of him, but he can’t see his story staying in Columbia for that long before the next chapter begins in the NFL. “Honestly, I try not to think about it, but I do think about it at the same time because I know that I’m gifted,” Williams told The State. “I feel like there is a reason that all this is happening. I wouldn’t have this big-time ESPN name for no reason.” Williams’ name has been splashed across not just ESPN but recruiting boards for years. He is a four-star cornerback prospect from Grayson, Ga., who is the most highly regarded prospect in the Gamecocks 2017 signing class, and he is frank that he believes it is his destiny to be playing professional football by 2020. “I have earned all the offers that I have and all coaches respect me and that means they see something in me,” Williams said. “I just have to have that mindset that I can go in there and do that and I’m trying to graduate in three years, also. I’m gifted. I’m just trying to take care of my family, too.” At this point, the thought of staying in one place too long is impossible for Williams to consider. He’s been chasing the game for so long and to so many places that slowing down now would feel wrong. Williams started playing football before he turned 5, and he has played for five youth league teams, two middle school teams and three high school teams since then. In his seventh grade year, Williams was playing for the Hilsman Middle School team in Athens, Ga., and a Gwinnett Football League youth team in Lilburn, Ga., 50 miles apart during the same season. “I just came to practice when I could, probably once or twice a week,” he said. With his talent, that was enough. After playing almost every position on the field as a youngster, Williams settled into his role at cornerback his freshman year at Duluth High School. “I was really making plays in practice, and my coach said I could really play it so he threw me out there with the older guys freshman year third or fourth game,” Williams said. “It went great. I got a pick against Norcross back when they were a powerhouse.” He then transferred to Archer High School for two seasons and then finally to Grayson High School for his senior season. Williams and the Rams won Georgia’s Class AAAAA state title last year. During the season, he verbally committed to the Gamecocks and stayed true to that pledge despite a late push from Georgia, signing with South Carolina in February and immediately becoming the star of the 2017 signing class. South Carolina incoming cornerback Jamyest Williams talks about expectations for the Gamecocks. The pressure of being the “face” of the newcomers doesn’t bother Williams, he said. “I don’t really feel much pressure at all. It’s exciting to me honestly,” he said. “It’s a blessing to be able to go in as one of the top-rated guys because that means I’ve got a lot of expectations, and I’ve always had expectations growing up. Every team I’ve played for growing up I’ve always been that guy, and I’ve always felt like I had to put the team on my back. This is just another stepping stone to do that.” It’s ironic that the biggest weight falls on the smallest member of the signing class. At 5-foot-9, 174 pounds, Williams is used to having his size be a topic of conversation. “That’s why I really just try to work as hard as I can. Small guys have to work harder because we don’t have the same gifts as taller guys,” he said. “We have our gifts. I’m fast and quick as stuff. I just have to work harder than the next person because only the strong survive.” He tries to emulate his game after Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu, a college star at LSU despite being 5-9. “I always had the dog in me, the competiveness in me,” Williams said. “I wasn’t going to let anyone outwork me. I always had the mentality that I’m better than you.” Earl Williams, the owner of Georgia Sports Performance, where Williams is training until he enrolls at South Carolina at the end of his month, can attest to that. “He always comes to get better,” Earl Williams said. “You can tell he’s on a journey for greatness. You see athletes come along every year the majority of them are not like that at all. They want to train at a certain level and let everything else happen. “This young man is not waiting on anything to happen. He’s going after it. He wants to be the best at everything he does.” South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp is hesitant to say he thinks Jamyest Williams will contribute to his team right away, but that’s the expectation of everyone else, including Jamyest Williams. “It’s a building process,” Williams said. “We are doing nothing but going up, and I feel like that’s what’s about to happen. We have a lot of doubters, and I feel like God is about to bless us with some amazing things.” THE STATE
  2. CBS Sports ranks Muschamp in top half of SEC coaches May 10, 2017 Will Muschamp impressed South Carolina fans by leading his team on a Year 1 rebound to bowl eligibility. And the job impressed one national outlet. The coach who received a large share of criticism for his work in Florida was ranked as the No. 37 Power Five coach by a panel of five CBSSports college football writers. He made a seven-spot jump from last season and was ranked ahead of seven fellow SEC coaches. “I think Muschamp exceeded all of our expectations in his first year at South Carolina, and as a result, he climbs seven spots in the rankings,” Fornelli wrote. “If he can do it again in 2017, it might help us all forget how things ended at Florida when we get together to vote again next year.” Muschamp came in ahead of the likes of Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin, LSU’s Ed Orgeron, Georgia’s Kirby Smart and Tennessee’s Butch Jones. THE STATE
  3. Gamecocks opener against N.C. State has broad implications May 09, 2017 SEC vs. ACC. Neutral site, nearly equidistant from both campuses. NFL stadium. The Gamecocks’ season-opening game against N.C. State has all the makings of a big-time interconference matchup. Muschamp briefly previewed the contest with the media on Monday — specifically calling out the game’s broader implications in terms of recruiting. “I love neutral-site games, especially in the footprint of your recruiting base, and [athletic director Ray] Tanner and I have talked about that. Whether it’s in Charlotte or Atlanta or anywhere in the state of Florida, that’s where we go recruit,” Muschamp said. Since Steve Spurrier took over in 2005, the Gamecocks have made it a habit to kick off the season in prime time — even on Thursday nights, in most instances. Though the Belk College Kickoff sees Carolina return to a Saturday Week 1 game (one with a smaller TV audience than a national ESPN Thursday night game), the exposure in the shadow of some of the region’s most fertile recruiting grounds makes the game a massive one for the Gamecocks. Coming off a successful 7-6 campaign, the Wolfpack won’t be an easy out. But you can bet that Muschamp will have his 7-point underdog team ready to play Sept. 2.
  4. Former South Carolina player Jalen Dread arrested for role in alleged bar assault May 09, 2017 Former South Carolina football player Jalen Dread reportedly has been arrested. As reported by WLTX, Dread surrendered to police in Columbia, S.C., shortly before noon ET on Monday for his role in an alleged April 29 assault at a Five Points bar. He is charged with a simple assault warrant. WLTX reports that investigators don’t expect to charge anyone else in connection with the case.
  5. Gamecock football to begin fall camp early in 2017 May 08, 2017 South Carolina football usually gives its players all of July to get ready for fall camp, which normally begins in the first few days of August. Not this year. Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp announced on Monday that South Carolina will open camp July 27 according to Thestate.com. New practice rules in the NCAA allow for South Carolina to begin practice a little bit earlier. And due to the extended preseason, the new rules eliminate two-a-days and reduce live-contact practice. South Carolina begins the season against NC State at a neutral site in Charlotte, NC on Saturday, Sept. 2. The Gamecocks will face their first SEC test the following week at Missouri. In Week 3, South Carolina will host its first conference game when the Kentucky Wildcats come to Columbia.
  6. More from Will Muschamp on Skai Moore, Deebo Samuel May 08, 2017 CHARLOTTE, N.C. – South Carolina coach Will Muschamp went to bat for Skai Moore and Deebo Samuel during a gathering of reporters on Monday morning. Last Tuesday, the two players were named in an incident report with the Columbia Police Department as suspects in an assault at Five Points Saloon. Both were falsely accused. Samuel was not at the bar the night of the assault. Moore was, but was later cleared after police completed their investigation. According to Muschamp, Moore tried to “defuse” the situation. “The investigating officer commended Skai, let me say that again, commended Skai on how he handled a very hostile situation,” Muschamp said. He added, “I think it’s sickening, to me, that these two men have been put through this and they’ve done nothing wrong. It’s not about getting the story right or the factual information, it’s about running the story first. That’s really what it boils down to.” The incident report was “one person’s opinion of what happened.” Muschamp said the outlet that first-reported the incident report was informed by Columbia Police that it was just that, a singular opinion of what happened. “The State newspaper was told that this has not been investigated and there could be some inaccurate information in this incident report,” Muschamp said, “So it’s frustrating to me that you don’t show a little energy to go out and find out what really happened, look at a video tape, see what happened.” SECCOUNTRY
  7. Dillman’s barber chair a seat of power for Gamecocks May 07, 2017 South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp calls his weight room “the barber shop.” It’s where his players can go complain about the head coach or banter about the day’s activities or both. The man in charge of that barber shop is the most important hire for any college football coach, Muschamp said. For him, it’s Jeff Dillman who, like Muschamp, is entering his second year of trying to turn around the Gamecocks program. In addition to being charged with keeping up with all the latest developments in the strength and conditioning world, Dillman serves as sounding board and counselor for the players, while at the same time re-affirming Muschamp’s various mantras. “I think we’re starting to see the benefits of Jeff Dillman and his staff in Year 2,” Muschamp said. Dillman and his staff added a new feature this spring – yoga. “It’s all about lower body flexibility and as a football player,” Muschamp said. “On the defensive side of the ball and anybody who has to play in space, change of direction is essential to being able to be a good football player and when you have lower body stiffness, it’s hard to change direction.” Muschamp wanted to introduce yoga his first season but didn’t because of all the variables that came with getting the program through his first year. The reaction to its implementation this spring was mixed, he admits. South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp directs his team before the USC Spring Game at Williams-Brice Stadium. Jeff Blake jblake@thestate.com “I think the guys at first weren’t real excited about it, but all of them came to me afterward and said, ‘Coach, I’m really glad we’ve done this. This is helping,’ ” he said. May will be relatively quiet for the Gamecocks and even for Dillman as it’s the month that puts the lightest workload on college football players. Still, South Carolina will have 45 scholarship players in “Maymester” sessions, which will mean they’ll likely be in Dillman’s barber chair plenty. June will be when the push toward the fall starts in earnest. “I hit the reset button,” Dillman said. “The old saying is, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ well the new saying is, ‘If it ain’t broke, break it and fix it because the problems are different each year.’ ” The first summer Dillman spent a lot of time working on ways to bring the team’s hamstring and shoulder injuries down. “What is the next issue?” Dillman asks. “Coach says we need to get them stronger.” Muschamp said that Tuesday during his stop at the Lancaster County Gamecock Club. In fact, he’s probably said it at least once every week since he’s been wearing garnet and black. Dillman can do that. What he won’t promise to do in the summer is get the team in shape for football, which starts with preseason practice in August. That’s because nothing other than football can do that. “It’s totally different when you put pads on and you have collisions. The amount of stress that is put on the body is through the roof,” Dillman said. “What we try to do is get them in such great shape that when they hit the field they can get into football shape faster.” If that requires some sage advice or even a quick trim, Dillman is there for that, too. South Carolina strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dillman Sean Rayford Special to The State Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/sports/college/university-of-south-carolina/usc-football/josh-kendall-blog/article149095754.html#storylink=cpy THE STATE
  8. South Carolina coach Will Muschamp with the latest on LB Skai Moore May 04, 2017 ROCK HILL, S.C. — Before Thursday night’s stop on the SpursUp Tour, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp updated the status of Skai Moore. The initial allegation included Deebo Samuel in the report, but he’s since been cleared, after Muschamp said the wide receiver told him he was not at the bar at the time of the incident. Samuel’s lawyer released a statement on Thursday afternoon. Moore and Samuel, along with former South Carolina football player Jalen Dread, were accused of involvement in an alleged assault of a man at a Columbia, S.C., bar on Saturday night. Police were investigating, but no charges had been filed by Thursday afternoon. Members of the bar staff reportedly identified the three men who allegedly tangled with a former Marine who was at the bar. Reports said the squabble occurred when the three men were approached after allegedly knocking a cell phone from the patron’s hand. Asked for comment on Tuesday, Muschamp said he was gathering information on the incident but said Samuel was not at the bar. Moore, 22, a linebacker, will be a senior in 2017. He missed the 2016 season because of a herniated disc in his neck. Recovering from surgery, Moore is expected to be a key part of the Gamecocks defense this fall. He was the team’s leading tackler during his first three seasons. Samuel, 21, is a starting wide receiver and a redshirt junior entering the 2017 season. He is, according to his Gamecocks biography, the team’s top returning receiver with 71 career catches for 944 yards and nine total touchdowns.
  9. South Carolina coach Will Muschamp disapproves of new recruiting rules May 04, 2017 South Carolina coach Will Muschamp isn’t a fan of several of the recruiting rule changes that were passed last month by the NCAA’s Division I council. Previously, recruits were permitted to start taking official visits in the fall of their senior year, but that will change with the next cycle. This spring, 2019 recruits can begin taking official visits on April 1 through the first Wednesday in June. “The spring official visits will be interesting,” Muschamp said. “That’s going to put a lot on the assistant coaches, as far as knowing when a player wants to commit and make a decision, but there’s no early signing date with the early visits, other than December. “You’ve got to hold on to a guy for a long time after an official visit, so it’s going to be pretty strategic in how you plan this visits and how that’s going to go. We’re still kind of working through that as a staff right now and having some discussions, as far as those things are concerned.” The addition of an additional signing period before the first Wednesday in February is certainly welcomed by Muschamp, though he would rather have it earlier than December. “If you’re going to have a spring (visit) period, why don’t you have an August 1 or September 1 signing day? This is not good for high school coaches,” Muschamp said. “My brother’s a high school coach, so now he’s going to have a junior come and visit me while he’s getting ready for spring practice? That’s not really what you want. I know the high school coaches don’t want that. “The right hand doesn’t really know what the left hand is doing sometimes. I just don’t agree with it.” Much like his former boss, Alabama coach Nick Saban, Muschamp isn’t a fan of the new summer camp regulations. Muschamp’s also against the changes in policy with hiring high school coaches. “I’m totally against not having high school coaches be able to be hired or to be able to work a camp or speak at a clinic,” Muschamp said. “We’re trying to promote our game, move our game forward. I think we’re really limiting ourselves when we do things like that. I don’t think that’s right, so I’m disappointed in that.” SECCOUNTRY
  10. Deebo Samuel not present at bar during alleged assault, lawyer says May 04, 2017 South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel was not present when an alleged assault took place at a Columbia bar over the weekend, according to his lawyer A 24-year-old man accused three men of attacking him at Five Points Saloon early Saturday morning. Samuel’s lawyer, Neal M. Lourie, announced Thursday that a secondary investigation found that Samuel was not at the bar at the time of the assault, according to WISTV’s Tanita Gaither. South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp has also said publicly that Samuel was not at the bar at the time of the incident. The alleged victim told police that he approached three men at the bar after they knocked his phone out of his hands. The three men denied the accusation and then assaulted the man. Staff members pulled the attackers off the victim and took them out of the bar. Employees at the bar identified Samuel, South Carolina LB Skai Moore and former Gamecocks LB Jalen Dread as the three men who assaulted the man. None of them have been charged. The Columbia police department issued a statement about the investigation Tuesday: “A Columbia Police investigator continues to gather information regarding the assault allegation in order to determine if a criminal act occurred, to identify any assailants, and to discover and gather all potential evidence, including surveillance camera footage.” Samuel will be a junior in 2017. He led the Gamecocks in receptions (59) and receiving yards (783) in 2016.
  11. Ohio State changed its tune in late run at Jamyest Williams May 04, 2017 GRAYSON, GA. In the end, Jamyest Williams made his college decision between South Carolina and Georgia, but a third school tried to break through on a last-minute Hail Mary. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer visited Williams at Grayson High School “two or three days” before National Signing Day this year with an interesting proposal. “He said his running back is entering the draft, and he’s looking for a running back,” Williams told The State. “I told him I wasn’t interested. I told him, ‘That’s not me, man.’ ” Williams is the crown jewel of the Gamecocks’ 2017 signing class. He was considered the nation’s eighth-best cornerback by the 247Sports Composite ranking and most of the sport’s major powers in the Southeast and many across the nation extended scholarship offers to have him join their defense. Ohio State and Oregon tried a different approach, Williams said. Both of those teams pitched him on the idea of playing offense with Meyer being the most blatant about it during his late visit. “He was really straightforward. I respected what he did,” Williams said. “He knew I was an explosive guy. I respect him for coming down to look at me. It was just real late in the process. They (had been) recruiting me as a defensive back. It threw me all off.” It didn’t take Williams long into the conversation to realize, “I was stuck on Carolina,” he said. The Gamecocks mentioned the possibility of Williams playing some offense for them “some times” during his recruitment, but he’s mostly interested in competing for the jobs as the starting nickel back and punt returner and kick returner this fall. “My main focus is not really (offense),” he said. “It’s getting the plays down and getting with the speed of the game on defense and kick return and punt return. It would be fun because I am naturally gifted. I love to make plays, but I think I make my money on defense.” Williams in Grayson’s Class AAAAA state championship season had 84 carries for 606 yards and 11 touchdowns. He added 20 receptions for 380 yards and five more scores. He enrolls at USC later this month. Jamyest Williams of Grayson High School in Atlanta picked South Carolina over Georgia on signing day. Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/sports/college/university-of-south-carolina/usc-football/article148597954.html#storylink=cpy THE STATE
  12. Gamecock coach Will Muschamp on Skai Moore, Deebo Samuel May 02, 2017 South Carolina head football coach Will Muschamp addressed Tuesday an other notes Before Tuesday’s SpursUp Tour stop, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp was asked about the alleged assault involving Skai Moore and Deebo Samuel. “We’re still kind of gathering the facts. I’ve been out of town, so I’ve been out of pocket,” Muschamp said. “I just got back in town (Tuesday). “I don’t really have any comment on it other than I have talked to Deebo Samuel and he was not at the establishment, so it was an incorrect report and irresponsible journalism, in my opinion. It is what it is.” Samuel was one of the three names listed in the incident report, released by the Columbia Police Department. Former Gamecock linebacker Jalen Dread was also among the alleged attackers.
  13. More on Two former four-star linemen leaving Gamecocks with video May 03, 2017 FORT LAWN - South Carolina head football coach Will Muschamp kicked off his spring speaking tour with the news that two former four-star recruits on the defensive line are leaving the program. Dexter Wideman, a rising junior from Saluda, and Stephon Taylor, a redshirt freshman from New Orleans, La., both have decided to transfer, he said. “Dexter is going to go to South Carolina State. Stephon Taylor is going to get closer to home,” Muschamp said before speaking to the Lancaster County Gamecock Club. “They wanted another opportunity. Stephon wanted to get closer to home. I think a lot of both young men.” Wideman signed with South Carolina in 2014, choosing the Gamecocks over Florida State. After spending the 2014 season at Camden Military Academy, he redshirted in 2015. He rarely saw the field in 2016 and did not appear to be in the team’s defensive line rotation plans headed into the 2017 season. Taylor redshirted in 2016. Muschamp and head women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley each addressed a large crowd that was lined up around the corner of the Catawba Fish Camp 30 minutes before the doors opened. Muschamp is scheduled to speak again Thursday in York, May 9 in Darlington, May 11 in Greenwood, May 16 in Atlanta and May 18 in Charleston. “To see the Gamecock Nation come out the way they have doesn’t get old,” Staley said. “It’s always amazing how much support they have given us in season and out of season.” Staley was wearing her “netlace,” which has been her faithful companion since the Gamecocks won the national championship in April. “The message is just to share in our accomplishment of winning a national championship,” Staley said. “Fortunate enough to get next to them to share in our accomplishment and hopefully lend them a piece of my net.” Staley received a standing ovation from the crowd when she was introduced. “We drove up and saw how much you guys had wrapped around the building,” she told the crowd. “I’m amazed, but I’m not because of what Gamecock Nation has done for our program over the last nine years.” Staley then listed all the support she felt through the team’s run to the title, including from Muschamp, who was seated at her side. “Coach Mushcamp used to send me short text messages… which I won’t repeat,” she said. Muschamp, who is coming off a 6-7 season in his first year as the Gamecocks head coach, received a healthy ovation when he was introduced after Staley’s speech. “When we were 2-4, y’all were standing but you weren’t clapping,” he joked. “I really appreciate the turnout. There were some dark days, and it wasn’t very good at times but we really appreciate your loyalty.” He also told the fans they were right to be excited about quarterback Jake Bentley, who will enter his second season as South Carolina’s starter in 2017. Muschamp: Gamecocks need young D-linemen to step up in 2017 “He’s a really good football player,” Muschamp said. “Jake is a guy we are really excited about. From an (offensive) skill standpoint, we will be very comparable in our league. I think we have improved on the offensive line. Moving Zack Bailey to right tackle has really helped us solidify some things.” Defensively, his team has some questions, he acknowledged. “We have some guys we feel like can come in and help us this summer,” he said. “We continue to make some strides on defense, but we’ve got some unknowns going into camp.” He also announced that the team believes it will be able to move into its upcoming football operations building in December of 2018. THE STATE
  14. Javon Kinlaw not just a run plugger, wants to get after SEC QBs May 03, 2017 When Javon Kinlaw finally signed with the South Carolina football team, those outside the program looked at his listed 340 pounds and envisioned a possible nose tackle to clog the middle and bolster an ailing run defense. But while Kinlaw no doubt wants to help USC on the ground he sees himself as more disrupter than space-eater. “I never saw myself as a nose tackle,” Kinlaw said. “I see myself as a 3-technique, a 3-technique that’s going to get after the quarterback.” To that end, he’s no longer 340. As of the first week of May, his last at Jones County Junior College in Mississippi, he was down to 320, with a goal of getting to 305 or 300. The Goose Creek High School alum, who committed to Will Muschamp’s staff last year and then had to get academics in order, will arrive in Columbia a month ahead of the start of the real summer conditioning program. He said dropping weight has never really been a challenge, and he’s been doing 2- and 3-mile runs to slim down. “The weight just came off,” Kinlaw said. The junior college experience gave him a taste of life far from home, but it also allowed him to hone his skills and find his place on the field. In high school, he was an extra large defensive end and tight end. Expect Javon Kinlaw to have immediate impact on Gamecocks' defense Phil Kornblut breaks down the commitment of Javon Kinlaw to the South Carolina football team. He worked with Anthony Maddox, Jones County’s defensive line coach and a former NFL player, and found it easier to work on the inside. He said he liked going against guards in tight spaces, where he could use his longer arms to create space and hold off opponents. Kinlaw finished the season with 26 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks. He admitted when he first went to Mississippi, he wasn’t so sure he’d make it back. The way he’s done it impressed his new head coach. “Javon was a situation that when I first got here, the best situation for him was to go to junior college immediately,” Muschamp said on signing day. “He was able to do that. He’s done a fantastic job at junior college. He’s had above a 3.0 GPA since he’s been there, and sometimes guys mature at different ages. He’s handled his situation wonderfully. I am extremely proud.” He’ll now approach a new situation when he gets on campus. In addition to diving into USC classes and getting around some of his new teammates (many aren’t in town for much of May), he’ll be joining a defensive line in need of an infusion of talent. Muschamp said several times the Gamecocks defense will have to rely on some newcomers, including up front. As a junior college player, and a highly-rated one, Kinlaw seems like a prime candidate. He said he expects to be a starter, and the staff expects he’ll at least have a role. He’s already had a year in a competitive league post-high school, and that gives him confidence he’ll come in ahead and secure a spot with the team’s top unit. “That’s something that I feel and see,” Kinlaw said. “I know I’m going to play, but for myself, I know I have a chance to start, I have a real good chance.” THE STATE
  15. South Carolina defensive linemen Stephon Taylor, Dexter Wideman leaving the program May 02, 2017 LANCASTER, S.C. — Before Tuesday’s SpursUp Tour stop, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said Stephon Taylor and Dexter Wideman were transferring. Wideman, a redshirt sophomore, will transfer to South Carolina State. Taylor, who’s from New Orleans, plans to pursue an opportunity closer to home. Neither saw action for the Gamecocks in 2016, though both arrived to Columbia as 4-star recruits. Taylor was a 4-star in Muschamp’s first signing class at South Carolina, ranked as the No. 29 defensive tackle in the class of 2016, according to the 247Sports composite. Originally from Saluda, S.C., Wideman was ranked by Rivals as the No. 15 defensive tackle in the class of 2014. He spent a prep year at Camden (S.C.) Military Academy before enrolling at South Carolina in time for the 2015 season, during which he took a redshirt. SECCOUNTRY
  16. More from Columbia Police on South Carolina football players accused of assault May 02, 2017 COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Columbia Police Department continues to gather details from an incident involving South Carolina linebacker Skai Moore and wide receiver Deebo Samuel. Moore, Samuel and former Gamecock linebacker Jalen Dread were accused of an assault early Saturday morning at a Five Points bar named Five Points Saloon. According to the department’s public information officer, “A Columbia Police investigator continues to gather information regarding the assault allegation in order to determine if a criminal act occurred, to identify any assailants, and to discover and gather all potential evidence, including surveillance camera footage.” The department is “working to determine if cameras captured the incident.” Anyone with information about the allegation is asked to call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC. A spokesperson with the South Carolina football team said coach Will Muschamp has been out of the office on Tuesday. Muschamp is scheduled to be in Lancaster, S.C. on Tuesday night for his first stop on the SpursUp Tour. SECCOUNTRY
  17. Versatile and fast: USC linebacker signee has potential to be among SEC’s best May 02, 2017 Eldridge Thompson fits an unusual mold when it comes to junior college football players. Most of the time, those athletes are expected to come in as more finished products, players ready to step onto the field and immediately fill a need. Thompson might well do that, but it’s his long-term potential that could be most notable. “I think by the time he’s a senior, he could be one of the better SEC linebackers out there,” said Chris Clevenger, Thompson’s position coach as a freshman at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. “He’s got the head for it. Definitely got the size, got the bone structure. Just needs a little more muscle development. But he’s fast.” Thompson’s path is as nontraditional as it gets. He spent two and a half years in Coffeyville, taking a de facto redshirt year and missing most of last season because of injury. A high school safety, he was listed in some spots as a receiver recruit and will come to USC as a versatile linebacker. And he learned something through being far from home (he grew up in Memphis, Tenn.) and going though adversity. “It was eye-opening,” Thompson said. “I’m really glad that I went to junior college because it prepared me for the next level and was a good, humbling experience. I would say for most people that JUCO really does humble you and gets your mind right and it really makes you sit down and think, ‘Is this really what you want to do?’ “You really find out in JUCO if football is really for you and it’s what you really love.” Clevenger remembers Thompson arriving at 205 pounds. He didn’t even make the roster as a freshman, owing to some particularities of the Kansas junior college system, though he was still a part of the team and could practice. Thompson handled it with “grace and class,” Clevenger said. After a year of waiting and adding weight, Thompson emerged as a tall (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) linebacker with good speed and coverage abilities that matched his former position. He broke out with 102 tackles, three sacks, an interception and five pass break-ups in 11 games, teaming with current Gamecocks defensive backs Jamarcus King and Steven Montac. Thompson said those two helped sell him to USC defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson, with King putting in extra work on that front. He committed to the Gamecocks in June and seemed set for another strong season. But things didn’t got so smoothly, and Ruzell McCoy, who followed Clevenger as Thompson’s position coach, saw his charge go through a different sort of setback. In the midst of a 16-tackle, one-forced fumble performance against Hutchinson in Coffeyville’s 2016 season opener, Thompson suffered a season-ending torn labrum in his shoulder. That didn’t throw him off course. “He dealt with it,” McCoy said. “He didn’t get down on himself. He did a good job of understanding the situation and knew what his goal was, and he’s going to bounce back from it.” McCoy said Thompson still came to meetings until his surgery. He’d encourage teammates and do a little coaching when he could. Both coaches raved about Thompson’s ability and potential. McCoy called his skills elite, pointing out there aren’t many linebackers who can both play in the box and cover slot receivers. Clevenger said Thompson sometimes dropped into the deep middle of the field on pass coverage, something USC occasionally asks linebackers to do, and praised his intelligence for the game and dedication in the meeting room. And that only augments his natural gifts. “For him to be 6-foot-2 and run a 4.4, he’s not going to have any mismatch problems with slot receivers or tight ends,” Clevenger said. “Even if he does make an initial bad read, he is fast enough to recover downfield.” Thompson was such a student of the game, he said he’s been watching film of other linebackers since he left Coffeyville, focusing on minutiae such a eye placement. Like many junior college players, he had online classes his last semester, so he moved to Houston, where his family had relocated from Memphis. He said he’s going to rehab for the shoulder three times a week and running every chance he can. Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp and strength coach Jeff Dillman both hammered the point he had to arrive in good condition to get the most from the summer program. Thompson is coming in with a big group of linebackers, and the Gamecocks have only three returning scholarship players at the position. McCoy and Clevenger said he is probably a better fit at outside linebacker, but could play inside as well. He expects to get a chance to play quickly, but even three years out of high school, his junior college coaches projected more room to grow physically (perhaps up to 230 pounds). At the moment, his abilities intrigue his new coaches. “What they like was how I can get to the ball,” Thompson said, “flying sideline to sideline, being able to cover and my speed, helped tremendously on the field and (made an) immediate impact on the defense.” THE STATE
  18. 3 USC football players accused in Five Points bar assault May 02, 2017 COLUMBIA, SC Three USC football players are accused of assaulting a man in a Five Points bar early Saturday, according to police. The alleged assault happened just before 3 a.m. Saturday at the Five Points Saloon and involved Deebo Samuel, Skai Moore and Jalen Dread, according to an incident report from the Columbia Police Department. The three have not been charged. The 24-year-old victim is described by a family member as an Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan. He told officers he confronted the men after they knocked his phone out of his hand inside the bar. “The subjects then became agitated, refuting the accusation,” the report states. “After a few seconds, the incident escalated to the subjects physically assaulting him.” The victim was hit several times in the face and had visible swelling around his left eye, police said. Bar staff pulled the men off the victim and escorted them from the bar, which is located at 812 Harden St. in the commercial district adjacent to the University of South Carolina campus. “The subjects were identified by the fact that they were each USC football players,” police wrote in their report. Bar staff told officers the incident was captured on video. None of the football players were on the scene when officers arrived. It was not immediately clear if the victim was transported to a hospital. No charges have been filed, but a police spokeswoman said Tuesday that the case has been assigned to an investigator. Samuel will be a junior wide receiver next season and led the Gamecocks in catches and yards last season. Moore, an all-SEC linebacker and the team's best defensive player in 2014 and 2015, sat out last season with a neck injury. Dread was a backup linebacker and left the team during the offseason. This is a developing story. Check back for updates. THE STATE
  19. Incoming Gamecocks corner a pure cover man April 28, 2017 CB Tavyn Jackson Quintin Lewis remembers those mornings. Four years ago, Tavyn Jackson joined Lewis’ football team at James Rickards High School in Tallahassee, Fla. The undersized cornerback was a ferocious tackler, playing safety and linebacker in the box. But he didn’t like the labels put on him, and he did something about it. “The first time I knew he was going to be great, he was young,” Lewis said. “He was in ninth grade. Everybody had told him, naw, you’re too small, you can’t do this. All he did was come in, he started coming in at 5:30 in the morning . He started lifting weights a little early, started getting some running in a little early. School started at 7:30. From 5:30 to 7:15, he worked out.” The coach was there with him, talking, coaching and watching him grow into a dominant high school player, and eventually a signee with South Carolina’s football team in February. His game went outward, from a natural hitter and tackler to something far more valuable on a football field. “My best skill as a defensive back is probably just being man-on-man,” Jackson said. “I’ve got good feet. I can copy the receiver. “When a receiver was doing the most on anybody else, that’s the dude I’d get. It’s been like that since my sophomore year.” That’s the skill Lewis praised first and foremost. The coach saw technique and polish, an understanding of the position that blends with good feet, hips and backpedal. The Gamecocks coaching staff didn’t have to break out a big pitch for Jackson. They liked him, he liked them. There was no “glitz and glamor.” He came for a camp, performed well in front of defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson and an offer quickly became a commitment. “Coach T-Rob specifically told me every little thing that he loved about what I did,” Jackson said. “Drills and we did 1-on-1s. And he said, ‘Oh yeah, we love this about you. Coach Muschamp said we love this about you.’ And what was key to me is when I got in the office to talk to him, he didn’t make it so big to where, ‘Oh at South Carolina, we have this, we have that.’ It was just simple conversation.” He followed with a do-it-all senior season, piling up the 76 tackles, three sacks, four picks and nine pass breakups he can seemingly rattle off from memory. Jackson said the biggest step he took was gaining confidence, as Lewis relied on him in coverage and as a blitzer. Jackson’s commitment survived a slew of late appeals from other staffs as the Gamecocks added more and more backs (there were six total). “That’s what everybody’s been trying to sell him on to try to get him to decommit from South Carolina,” Lewis said. “He’s coming in, have to compete with seven, eight defensive backs. These guys are rated higher than you or this better than you. The thing is this, he’s going to be the most complete defensive back there. He’s going to be the most versatile. He’s going to be the one with the least amount of excuses.” Jackson, who hopes to study engineering, was bullish on what the group could do. The Gamecocks returned six members of last year’s sometimes rag-tag secondary, including run focused nickel Antoine Wilder. USC gets a reserve corner off a redshirt (Chris Smith), plus a pair of Jackson’s classmates as early or junior-college enrollees. But Muschamp still said at the end of the spring game he expects some incoming defensive backs will have to contribute. Jackson is ready to oblige. “Our class now, I'm not saying we seem more athletic,” Jackson said. “But as we're coming in, we're just, I would say for cornerback and safety, we are a step behind them. Literally a step. It doesn't take much to get to that point. “We're coming in trying to do something.” THE STATE
  20. Eric Wolford ‘couldn’t pass up’ chance to return to coach at South Carolina March 09, 2017 COLUMBIA, S.C. — Eric Wolford’s coaching journey has taken him to eastern Ohio and the West Coast since he left South Carolina in 2010. But even as the challenges of a coaching his own college program and an NFL schedule kept him from watching too much college football, Wolford still had his eye on South Carolina from afar. So when the offensive line coaching position opened up in December, Wolford had immediate interest. “I would say that there was definite interest on my part, as I kind of watched what was taking place this last year,” Wolford said. “I missed college football. I really did. An opportunity to come back to South Carolina, a place I had been before, was something that I couldn’t pass up.” The longtime football coach is back in Columbia, filling the role held by Shawn Elliott and the role he held in 2009. He departed after one season, taking the head coaching job at Youngstown State. Wolford held that title from 2010-14 and spent the past two years as an assistant offensive line coach with the San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco’s season drew to a close on Jan. 1 and the process moved rapidly for Wolford and the Gamecocks. He wrapped up “some loose ends” with the 49ers, met with coach Will Muschamp and was offered the job. He accepted without a second thought in his mind. “My wife and I had made the decision that if this opportunity presented itself, we weren’t going to pass it up,” Wolford said. The experience so far has been great for Wolford, who said the offensive linemen have responded well. He praised Elliott’s work with the Gamecocks, saying they have handle tough coaching well. “These guys work really hard,” Wolford said. “Their attention to detail, some of the things we have been talking in the meeting room, even when they are out there doing conditioning drills and stuff. For the most part, they work hard. We just want to really focus right now on getting better. That means getting better with our weight lifting in the weight room, whether it’s working on football away from the building here or getting better to do the things we need to do to become a productive offensive line unit.” As South Carolina opened spring football on Feb. 25, Wolford still was working out getting his family moved to Columbia. But moving from coast to coast is well worth it for Wolford because he is back at South Carolina. “This is a special place,” Wolford said. “My wife and I, we had such a great experience last time we were here. The atmosphere here, the passion of the fans, just some of the things that they have done around here. It’s an exciting place to play.” SECCOUNTRY
  21. South Carolina could emerge as SEC East sleeper under Will Muschamp March 09, 2017 The SEC East was terrible in 2016. Florida backed into the division championship only after Tennessee choked it away. Some metrics rated the division the worst in major college football and barely better than the top American Athletic Conference division. Obviously, it’s been a fall from grace for the division with the departure of several notable coaches, including Urban Meyer, Gary Pinkel and Mark Richt. However, that means the division is wide open for the taking. While speaking at the NFL combine to SEC Country’s Alec Shirkey, several former Florida players were clear. “I think [Will Muschamp]’s going to turn [south Carolina] around and they’re going to be a competitor in the SEC East,” former Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley said. Muschamp, of course, was coached Florida from 2011 to 2014. He recruited most of the players involved in Jim McElwain’s back-to-back SEC East championship teams. However, Florida unceremoniously sacked Muschamp after a 6-5 season. Three of his four seasons were underwhelming. However, 2016 was perhaps his most impressive coaching job. Despite having a severely under-talented roster, South Carolina went 6-7 and qualified for a bowl game. That included a shocking 24-21 win over No. 18 Tennessee and upset over Vanderbilt in the opener. Just a few months later, Muchamp leveraged that into quick recruiting success. South Carolina signed the No. 21 class in the country, featuring six 4-star prospects from 247Sports’ composite rankings. South Carolina isn’t a traditional SEC power, and Will Muschamp isn’t a traditional coach. However, with the dearth of consistency in the conference, the situation is right for Muschamp to build an SEC East contender at South Carolina. Building advantages Plenty went wrong for Muschamp during his stint at Florida. The program produced some of the worst offenses in all of college football, and the defensive-minded Muschamp refused to adjust. However, he has a few strengths that can’t be denied. It starts with ability to get talent to campus. “He’s a coach that can really recruit well,” former Florida linebacker Alex Anzalone said. “You can see in the class he’s put together this past year, he’s done well. He’ll build some momentum, especially when he starts winning some games.” That’s been put into practice many times. It seems there is an endless stream of talented defensive players for McElwain to use, many of them from the Muschamp era — even the ones who weren’t top recruits. Muschamp and his staff did a superb job identifying that talent. Really, McElwain still must prove he can win without Muschamp recruits. Additionally, Muschamp’s defensive coaching ability has never been questioned. After a rebuilding 2011 season, Florida had top 15 teams in defensive S&P+ each of his seasons. The headliner was the No. 4 defense nationally in 2012. “Muschamp and his staff, they really built the basis for us as a defense,” former Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis told SEC Country. “They put together a group of guys from across the country that was really talented. They brought us all in and they got us thinking how to be a dominant defense.” The 2016 Gamecocks were No. 50 in defensive S&P+ in a rebuilding year. However, the Gamecocks recruited three 4-star defensive ends and a 4-star cornerback who could all contribute right away. That, along with experience in the system, will be paramount. Combating the SEC East At this point, there is not a dominant team in the SEC East. Florida won the division the past two years, but not with much conviction. With Muschamp’s Gators recruits graduating, McElwain must prove he can build a program. Additionally, Tennessee is struggling to maintain consistency with Butch Jones at the helm. The talent is there, but the on-field product is not. Georgia will be a contender in the near future, but Kirby Smart must grow as a coach. Historically, South Carolina has not been able to stay in the upper echelon of divisional programs. But with Muschamp’s abilities, the upside is there. It helps having a true quarterback of the future. True freshman Jake Bentley stole the job for good by throwing for 1,420 yards and 9 touchdowns in just 7 starts. Wide receiver Bryan Edwards and running back Rico Dowdle also contributed on offense in their first years. To be clear, the likelihood is that an SEC East program won’t catch Alabama anytime soon. That’s a long-term goal. However, Muschamp can have South Carolina back in the discussion for division championships soon. That alone would make his hiring a success. SECCOUNTRY
  22. Will Muschamp looks ahead to South Carolina’s quarterback battle July 26, 2016 Gamecocks coach talks start of practice, QB competition, RB position GREENVILLE, S.C. — On Tuesday night, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp met with reporters before the South Carolina Coaches for Charity event. The quarterback battle between senior Perry Orth and freshmen Brandon McIlwain and Jake Bentley was one of the topics of conversation. Muschamp told reporters there’s no timetable to name a starter for the Sept. 1 opener at Vanderbilt. “Every meeting is important. Every practice is important. You’ve got to have an everything is important attitude around our place,” Muschamp said. “Our guys have certainly bought in to that, but every rep is extremely critical for those guys … he’ll just do what’s best for our football team. “If it’s playing one guy, we’ll play one. If we play two, we’ll play two. If we play three, we’ll play three,” Muschamp said. South Carolina’s first preseason camp practice is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 2. The Gamecocks will have 29 practices before their season opener against the Commodores.

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