Stephen Garcia reported to preseason camp a little smaller after dropping 10 pounds during the summer.
But the South Carolina quarterback’s expectations for this season are super-sized.
“Nothing less than SEC champions,” Garcia said Wednesday after the Gamecocks’ second practice. “We say that every year we’ve been here. But I think this is by far the most talented team we’ve had and the hardest-working team we’ve ever had. So I think that’s a pretty good combination.”
Garcia’s offseason work habits were a hot topic of discussion all summer after USC coach Steve Spurrier publicly challenged his quarterback to increase his commitment level while speaking to the media or at Gamecock Club functions.
Never miss a local story.
Garcia said evidence of his dedication to the offseason program were the pounds he shed.
“I think I did pretty well. I slimmed down to about 225. I mean, if you call it slimming down,” said the 6-foot-2 junior. “Last year I was about 235, maybe a little north of that.”
Garcia said USC players took notice of the baseball’s team national championship in June.
“That was good for us,” he said. “I think we needed that to light a fire under us.”
Freshman receiver Ace Sanders continued his good early impression with several catches in both the skeleton (7-on-7) and team drills.
“He reminds everybody of Kenny McKinley. I threw a ball to him in 1-on-1s that was 10 yards short and 10 yards late, just because I wasn’t used to (his quickness),” Garcia said. “He’s going to play for us. He’s going to do pretty darned well, I think.”
Starting receiver Alshon Jeffery was out for the second consecutive night. Jeffery, who had wisdom teeth removed recently, was not at the practice field Wednesday.
A number of players were held out after cramping and experiencing tight hamstrings in Tuesday’s first practice — linebackers Shaq Wilson and Qua Gilchrist, cornerback Chris Culliver, tailback Kenny Miles and tight end Justice Cunningham. Left tackle Jarriel King remained out with a hamstring strain.
Quote of the day
“There’s a few things that I didn’t take. I’m sure you guys know what I’m talking about. You can edit that out if you want to.” — Garcia on his summer diet.
A pair of former Gamecocks decided to continue their careers elsewhere. Offensive lineman Seaver Brown, who graduates this weekend, is headed to Division II North Alabama to play his final season as a graduate student. Safety Jarrett Burns, who left the program last month, has transferred to Tennessee-Chattanooga, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Both players will be eligible to play this year.
The Gamecocks’ third practice, which is open to the public, is scheduled to begin at 7:30 Thursday night at the Bluff Road practice fields.