Notes: How things have changed for Smelley

jperson@thestate.comOctober 12, 2009 

  • Gamecocks vs. Tide

    WHO: USC (5-1, 2-1 SEC) at Alabama (6-0, 3-0)

    WHEN: 7:45 p.m. Saturday

    WHERE: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

    LINE: Alabama by 18

    TV: ESPN (TWC 26/DTV 206/Dish 140)

    RADIO: WNKT-FM 107.5

    ONLINE: Seth Emerson will blog live from the game. Get updates at gogamecocks.com.

At the midway point of last season, Chris Smelley was coming off a performance at Mississippi that earned the South Carolina quarterback offensive player-of-the-week honors in the SEC.

A year later, Smelley is trying to win a spot on Alabama's baseball team.

Despite Smelley's 15 starts during the 2007 and '08 seasons, Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said he was not surprised when Smelley came to him after the Outback Bowl to tell him he wanted to transfer to Alabama and play another sport.

"He was an outstanding high school baseball player. It just made sense. He wanted to see how he could do in baseball," Spurrier said Sunday. "From what I understand, he's got a chance to be a big-league ballplayer."

Smelley was all-state in football and baseball at American Christian Academy in Tuscaloosa, where he hit .421 with 12 home runs and 52 RBIs as a senior. Smelley did not rule out playing football for the Crimson Tide when he transferred, but he told the Mobile Press-Register last week he is committed to baseball.

Wildcat under wraps. Early in the fourth quarter against Kentucky, tailback Kenny Miles took a direct snap from center with quarterback Stephen Garcia lined up at receiver. Miles was held to no gain on the play, and the Gamecocks did not use the alignment again.

Spurrier said it was not the "Wildcat" formation, which the Gamecocks have practiced with freshman cornerback Stephon Gilmore at quarterback.

"We still threaten to use Stephon in there sometimes. He just does so much with the defense, we're trying to rest him up a little bit," Spurrier said. "But we may throw him out there."

King for a day. USC left tackle Jarriel King showed off the skills that made him a highly regarded defensive tackle at Georgia Military. King came up with stops following both of the Gamecocks' turnovers - an interception and fumble by Stephen Garcia.

King and Miles combined to bring down Sam Maxwell after he picked off Garcia in the first half. After Columbia native Calvin Harrison scooped up Garcia's third-quarter fumble, King saved a touchdown by forcing Harrison out at the USC 15. The Wildcats settled for a field goal.

"That ended up being a four-point play by Jarriel King, just hustling over and getting the guy to get his foot out of bounds," Spurrier said.

He said it. "I don't need to talk about whatever happened back then. I said a long time ago that South Carolina is going to be my last college job - my last job in all likelihood. When I took the job, I just wanted to coach here seven or eight years and see if we can't win an SEC (title). We still have hopes down the road that's going to happen,"

- Spurrier, who was approached by Alabama about its vacancy before the school hired Nick Saban before the 2007 season

Extra points. After tight end Weslye Saunders sat out the Kentucky game with an ankle injury, a USC official said Saunders was probable for Alabama. But Spurrier did not sound as certain, saying Saunders "maybe" will be available. ... Oft-injured defensive back Jay Spearman saw the first action of his career on special teams Saturday. ... Right tackle Hutch Eckerson, making his second consecutive start, had the highest grade of his career, according to Spurrier.

Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.

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