Culliver moves to defense

jperson@thestate.com March 23, 2008 

One of South Carolina’s fastest players made a quick move to defense.

Chris Culliver, a rising sophomore, has shifted from receiver to safety, ending his offensive stint after one season. USC coach Steve Spurrier said “it just wasn’t working” for Culliver at receiver.

The 6-foot, 190-pound Culliver, a standout defensive back and return specialist in high school, carried five times for 31 yards but did not catch a pass for the Gamecocks last fall.

“Chris never played receiver much at all until he got here,” Spurrier said Saturday. “But he wanted to play receiver, and we generally allow each player to pick where he wants to play. After that, ‘Hey, it’s not working. We need help over here.’”

Starting safeties Darian Stewart and Emanuel Cook are back, but the Gamecocks seek depth following the losses of Chris Hampton and Brandon Isaac.

No shortage up front. First-year defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said a surplus of defensive linemen allowed coaches to move all-SEC defensive end Eric Norwood to outside linebacker.

“This football program is almost too heavy in defensive linemen. I don’t think I’ve ever said that in my life, and I’ll probably one day be crying that I ever said it,” Johnson said. “You can’t find those guys. But somehow they found ’em.”

Extra points. Middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley is up to 275 pounds, with five to seven percent body fat. “His body fat’s as far as we can get it down,” Johnson said. ... Former USC quarterback Syvelle Newton, on the injured list of the Arena League’s Georgia, Force, stopped by Saturday’s practice.

Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.

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