Gamecocks corner gets good reviews

Auguste credits fast start this spring to the season he spent at Virginia Military Academy

semerson@thestate.com April 10, 2008 

Akeem Auguste is doing things he never envisioned, at least not this quickly in his college career. So when the freshman cornerback talks about his past three days, it may be a little more wonderment than boasting.

First came the one-handed interception in Monday’s scrimmage, which Auguste said was “the talk of the locker room.” Then came another pick in Wednesday’s practice.

“I guess they like picking on me or something,” Auguste said. “They keep losing.”

Auguste has played well enough that he appears to be knocking on the door of the first-team. His emergence shouldn’t be a huge surprise, given his history.

He played last year at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia, which he said gave him a head start on other freshmen — even those who enrolled this spring. Before that he was a four-star recruit out of high school in Hollywood, Fla., where he played a lot of positions before settling in at cornerback his junior year.

“I really didn’t expect to do as good as I’m doing right now,” Auguste said. “But I’m loving it. I’m just keeping going. I’m not backing down.”

Auguste plays on nickel and dime packages, and he is content with that for now. He admits he needs to stay on his man better and tends to follow the ball too much.

The Gamecocks list him as the backup punt returner to Captain Munnerlyn, and he is in the mix at kickoff return.

“I’m just out here coming to play every day,” Auguste said.

Cook out. Safety Emanuel Cook will probably miss the rest of spring practice after cracking a bone in his thumb. Spurrier said Cook also has to take care of some “academic issues.”

Cook, who will be a junior this fall, led the Gamecocks in tackles last season despite missing the first game with an appendectomy. Given his experience, Spurrier is content to take it cautious with Cook.

“He doesn’t need much more,” Spurrier said.

Bag of tricks. Wednesday’s practice started in very unusual fashion: A magic show.

Kevin Dawson, who Spurrier had seen a couple of times, was in town playing golf with friends of the coach. Spurrier invited Dawson to come out to practice and perform, which he did for about 20 minutes.

Spurrier said the show was merely “entertainment,” and not any attempt at motivation. But he did point to it for another reason after being frustrated with one position’s performance in Wednesday’s practice.

“I think the magician could have played quarterback a little better at times,” Spurrier said.

Extra points. Spurrier said he has talked to suspended quarterback Stephen Garcia a “little bit,” and that Garcia still wants to return once he’s eligible after August 15. ... Center Seaver Brown, playing first-team with Garrett Anderson out, was beaten on a blitz during Wednesday’s scrimmage. Said Spurrier: “Seaver’s not the fastest center in the league, but he’s ours, so we love him.”

Reach Emerson at (803) 771-8676.

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