Steve Spurrier might have found his next Syvelle Newton.
The USC coach believes Strom Thurmond quarterback Aramis Hillary has the same scrambling ability as Newton, who started half of the Gamecocks’ games in 2006. Spurrier also praised Hillary’s zeal for the sport, a trait Spurrier often mentioned when discussing Newton.
“Aramis loves everything about playing quarterback,” Spurrier said Wednesday. “I went to his high school. Sure enough, he carries the football around with him all day and pitches it to whoever’s around.”
Hillary comes from a strong football family in North Augusta. His brother, CoCo, was a receiver on the Appalachian State team that upset Michigan and won the Football Championship Subdivision last season. An uncle, Ira Hillary, was a USC receiver in the 1980s before going to the NFL.
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Aramis Hillary passed for 2,400 yards and ran for 980 last season.
“He can move around and gives us a mobile quarterback who’s also an excellent passer,” Spurrier said. “I don’t know if he’s quite as quick as Syvelle was. ... He gives us a different quarterback than what we’ve had here since Syvelle left.”
Streamlined screening process. Neither Spurrier nor USC recruiting coordinator David Reaves had any complaints with a new screening policy, designed to limit the number of athletes brought before the university’s special admissions committee. USC announced in October that recruits needed a 2.0 GPA and a 710 SAT score to be considered for special admission.
“We’re bringing in a lot better student-athletes. We always like to go through them, make sure they clear it with us and then we’ll go recruit those kids,” Reaves said. “We’re not going to go after a kid we know is not going to meet those standards.”
Border wars. After USC signed eight South Carolina natives in its 22-player class and saw several of the state’s top prospects go to Clemson, Spurrier said the Gamecocks “maybe should focus a little bit more instate.”
Many of the Tigers’ prospects committed last summer. But Reaves defended USC’s junior recruiting, pointing out the Gamecocks held their “junior day” last weekend.
“We got a lot of those top juniors on the campus,” he said. “We’ve just got to get out there and get them on campus as many times as we can, and hopefully get them signed next year.”
Second chance. Defensive end Jarriel King, dismissed from Georgia Military’s team last year on charges he stole money from teammates, could be at USC by March or April after completing his two-year degree.
“I know Jarriel had a problem up there at Georgia Military,” Spurrier said. “He’s paid his dues and we’re going to give him a chance to be a Gamecock.”
Extra points. Summerville quarterback Reid McCollum, who left school after a week in January, plans to return this summer. USC will ask the NCAA, which allows players five years to play four seasons, to start McCollum’s “clock” at that time.