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August 7, 2010

Practice report: Jeffery faster, stronger

After South Carolina’s first full practice in pads Saturday night, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery gave a reason why it took him so long to get on the field last season.

Alshon Jeffery showed up on the South Carolina campus last year as one of the highest profile recruits to sign with the Gamecocks in several years. It took until the Kentucky game for him to show what the excitement was about.

The former Calhoun County standout finished the season as USC’s leading receiver with 46 catches for 763 yards and six touchdowns.

After South Carolina’s first full practice in pads Saturday night, he gave a reason why it took him so long to get on the field.

“In high school, I didn’t even lift weights,” Jeffery said. “I came in and I couldn’t even bench press 145 or 150. Now I’m up to about 250 or so.”

He said strength coach Craig Fitzgerald has given him a program he has been committed to, and he can see the difference on the field.

“I’m faster and stronger,” Jeffery said. “It pays off for everybody. We are out here running and lifting weights all summer.”

The other receivers have taken notice as well, even though Jeffery has been limited this week after having four wisdom teeth removed. He is still practicing in a non-contact yellow jersey.

“He surprised me in the weight room with how much he is benching and how much he squatted,” receiver Jason Barnes said. “You can tell it’s all coming together for him. I can’t wait to see what he does on the field.”

Stock Rising: Weslye Saunders

Even with the cloud of controversy following the senior tight end, he has had a good start to practice.

The NCAA has not said anything on the investigation possibly related to agent activity, and coach Steve Spurrier said he wasn’t sure when or if he would hear anything about it. Saunders is practicing with the second team, but with more nights like Saturday it will be hard to keep him off the field.

He had several solid catches and scored a couple of touchdowns in the team portion of the practice. He looked like a favorite target of all the quarterbacks.

“Weslye caught everything,” Spurrier said. “He’s in better shape than he has ever been. He’s had a lot better attitude. He can be a big target for us, a big help.”

Stock Falling: Kenny Miles. Even though he is the Gamecocks' leading returning rusher, Miles has been in a yellow jersey most of the week and unable to participate in any of the team drills.

That has given Marcus Lattimore, Brian Maddox, Jarvis Giles and Bryce Sherman more reps than they might have gotten if Miles was available.

Miles worked out on the side doing conditioning with linebackers Qua Gilchrist and Shaq Wilson for most of the practice. Fullback Matt Coffee was also in a yellow non-contact jersey.

Revenge factor. Two days ago, highly-touted freshman running back Marcus Lattimore was welcomed to major college football with a hard hit from D.J. Swearinger during the team drills.

Lattimore got his revenge on the first full day in pads. With Swearinger near the goal line on a running play, Lattimore lowered his shoulder and bowled over Swearinger into the end zone.

The hit drew ohhs and ahhs from the entire team. All Swearinger could do is stand up and clap his hands.

“D.J. said he got me coach, I wasn’t ready for it,” Spurrier said. “I told him he wasn’t ready for yours the other day.”

Tidbits. Spurrier praised the offensive line for not having and false start penalties. He said he thought that was the first time that had happened this fall.

... Defensive tackle Melvin Ingram left practice early with a sprained ankle.

... The team will hold Media Day from 2:30-5 p.m. today before returning to the practice field at 5:15. All practices are closed to the public the remainder of the fall, unless Spurrier decides differently.

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