News of the day
Defensive tackle Ladi Ajiboye confirmed he would miss the first three games while serving a suspension related to his marijuana arrest this past winter.
USC coach Steve Spurrier has said Ajiboye would be suspended for multiple games, but had not specified which games he would sit.
Ajiboye, a junior who started 22 games his first two seasons, was arrested in February and charged with simple possession after investigators watched him purchase pot from someone in Columbia. A month later he received a conditional discharge, which would expunge the charge from his record if he complies with several stipulations over a six-month period.
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“I made a mistake and it’s all in the past,” Ajiboye said Thursday in his first public comments since his arrest. “I’m looking at the future right now, and the future is winning games and going to a big bowl game. I don’t worry about the past no more.”
If there was a silver lining to his situation, Ajiboye said his inactivity while suspended for spring practice caused him to lose 25 pounds from last season’s playing weight of 300. “I feel like that worked out for the better because I feel like I’m in better shape because I lost so much fat,” Ajiboye said. “I was pretty fat, I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t all muscle.”
Ajiboye has practiced with the team throughout the preseason. He will be eligible to return against Mississippi on Sept. 24.
Throw another name into the competition for the backup quarterback job – walk-on Zac Brindise, the brother of former Florida quarterback Noah Brindise.
“We’ll probably give Zac Brindise a little more work,” USC coach Steve Spurrier said. “He threw some nice balls out here tonight. See if he can compete in there.”
Depth at defensive tackle is a growing concern. Ajiboye is out until the fourth game. Nathan Pepper, the other returning starter, is limited by a knee injury. That leaves Travian Robertson and a couple of untested players – Kenny Davis and Melvin Ingram – to man the middle.
Coaches will try to nurse Pepper and his twice-repaired left knee through his final season. Pepper had arthroscopic surgery to remove loose cartilage this summer, but continues to be bothered by swelling.
“He’s not going to practice a lot the entire season,” Spurrier said. “Hopefully, we can get 25, 30 plays a game out of him, maybe.” …
Left tackle Jarriel King was dressed, but did not do much after a reoccurrence of an irregular heartbeat. Spurrier said he was not worried about King, who played with the condition last season.
Quote of the day
“We’re underdogs at N.C. State. Y’all know that, don’t you? Our team knows that, too. Nobody thinks we’re worth a crap. So they know that. I told ‘em, and we’ll keep telling ‘em until they earn any respect around this country. So we’re just a rag-tag bunch right now,” – Spurrier on the 3.5-point spread in the early betting lines of the Gamecocks’ Sept. 3 opener.
All-SEC linebacker Eric Norwood is one of 55 players selected to the preseason watch list for the Bednarik Award, which goes to the nation’s most outstanding defensive player. … USC’s ball-carriers handled the ball well Thursday morning in steady rains. Spurrier said the conditions were the wettest he’s been a part of in at least 10 years.
The Gamecocks have another closed practice at 7:30 p.m. Friday. USC president Harris Pastides is expected to address the team before the workout.
-- Joseph Person
Video: Thursday night's post-practice interviews