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USC coach Steve Spurrier would not be surprised if the Gamecocks lose a couple of juniors to the NFL next year.
“I’ve got a feeling one or two are going to leave, from what I’ve heard,” Spurrier said Monday during his call-in show. Coaches have received indications that tight end Jared Cook and strong safety Emanuel Cook likely will enter the draft, forgoing their final year of eligibility. Both players have said they would not finalize their decisions until after the season.
Jared Cook, who has caught 34 passes for a team-leading 548 yards and two touchdowns, is rated the third-best tight end prospect by Scouts Inc. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper ranks him as the No. 2 junior tight end. Emanuel Cook is leading USC in tackles for the second consecutive season. Kiper lists Cook among the top junior safeties and some draft experts project him as high as the second round.
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Two of the Gamecocks’ other top juniors – linebacker Eric Norwood and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn – said they plan to return to USC next season.
Spurrier said he sits downs with juniors who are thinking about leaving early to “show ‘em the facts” – various projections and feedback he’s gleaned from NFL scouts. He still believes former USC receiver Sidney Rice erred in leaving after his third year.
Rice was the Minnesota Vikings’ second-round pick in 2007, but Spurrier said Rice would have been the first receiver taken had he stayed in school for another season.
Tailback Brian Maddox. The sophomore from Anderson, who missed the past six games after spraining his knee, worked with the second team in place of Eric Baker, who is nursing an ankle injury. Maddox, who started against UAB when Mike Davis was suspended, is averaging 3.2 yards on 25 carries.
Backup quarterbacks. Stephen Garcia missed practice with a stomach virus, moving Tommy Beecher up a spot from the third team, where he has languished since starting the season opener against N.C. State.
“Tommy sort of got beat up that first game, sort of got hit hard a bunch of times and I think he lost his desire to really want to play much,” Spurrier said on his call-in show.
Spurrier also chastised freshman quarterback Reid McCollum for getting into trouble in a course, forcing him to add a class held when the Gamecocks practice Mondays and Wednesdays.
Spurrier said he expects Garcia to be healthy by Saturday. Defensive backs Akeem Auguste (hamstring), Munnerlyn (turf toe) and Carlos Thomas (knee sprain) all practiced and should play against Clemson, Spurrier said. Receiver Moe Brown said his sprained left knee is about 85 percent healed.
Quote of the day
“They’ve played better than we have in the fourth quarter. Might as well say it because that’s what happened,” – Spurrier, whose teams are 1-2 against Clemson despite leading in the fourth quarter in every game.
Preparing to face dangerous Clemson returners C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford, USC kicker Ryan Succop and punter Spencer Lanning did a tackling drill after Monday’s practice.
“We do it in fall camp and then we did it this week just as a refresher course. This team’s a very good return team,” special teams coach Ray Rychleski said. “We’re going to need Spence and Ryan to be able to tackle this week.” …
Spurrier said he wants his players to get to sleep by 11 p.m. this week so they’re ready for the noon kickoff at Death Valley.
-- Joseph Person