USC set to retire McKinley's No. 11

Injuries, defections force Gamecocks to pick up QB

bgillespie@thestate.com --- jperson@thestate.comFebruary 5, 2009 

Steve Spurrier talked Wednesday about taking Sterling Sharpe’s No. 2 out of retirement, then said he wants to retire the jersey of another star receiver: Kenny McKinley.

“One thing we are planning to do is retire Kenny McKinley’s jersey, No. 11,” Spurrier said following USC’s National Signing Day press conference. Last fall, McKinley broke most of USC’s career receiving records, many previously held by Sharpe.

The retirement would take place at USC’s spring game on April 11, Spurrier said. In the past, South Carolina retired the numbers of Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers, Sharpe, Mike Johnson and Steve Wadiak.

“(McKinley’s) would be just a jersey retirement,” the coach said. “We’ve got a whole bunch of people who want to wear No. 11.

“Hopefully we can get Kenny back, and put that big No. 11 the same place with No. 38 (Rogers), No. 2” and the rest.

Spurrier said discussions had been held about giving Sharpe’s No. 2 to Calhoun County’s Alshon Jeffery, who spurned Southern Cal to sign with the Gamecocks.

“All those (retired) numbers have been talked about,” the coach said. “Almost every college in the country does not retire numbers, they retire jerseys.”

Earlier, Sharpe said he was unaware of plans to un-retire No. 2. “Nothing’s been decided yet, let’s put it that way,” Spurrier said.

Arms race. If Spurrier needed any convincing the Gamecocks could use another quarterback, he received it at a recent workout. Following the departures of Chris Smelley and Tommy Beecher and minor injuries to Stephen Garcia and Reid McCollum, freshman Aramis Hillary was the only scholarship quarterback available.

“The other day I was watching workouts and Reid McCollum had his wisdom teeth out and Stephen’s got a little shoulder (injury). He’s not going to have surgery or anything, but he wasn’t doing anything,” Spurrier said. “So Aramis was our only healthy quarterback out there. I said we better go find another one somewhere.”

They found one in Andrew Clifford, a Tampa, Fla., quarterback whose father was a three-year letterman at Florida in the 1970s.

Smack talk. Although the two never met, new USC strength coach Craig Fitzgerald shared the spotlight with his future boss in an Under Armour commercial featuring Spurrier.

Fitzgerald, who played at Maryland and was a teammate of Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, has a small speaking part in the spot. “(Spurrier) was the star. I was just somebody that kind of snuck in,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald’s line was “two smacks and a lift-off” — delivered as he is shown smacking an athlete twice in the chest before lifting the bar off the bench press.

“We have fun with it,” Fitzgerald said. “Every now and then, one of the guys will ask me to do it to them as a joke.”

Extra points. Spurrier said the Gamecocks have had 100 percent turnout at their 6 a.m. conditioning sessions. “I’ve not been able to say that since I’ve been here ‘til now.” ... Sophomore Dion LeCorn has moved from the secondary back to receiver, where he caught 27 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman before switching to defense midway through last season. ... USC begins spring practice March 3 and will practice twice before spring break the following week.

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