David Cloninger

All things Gamecocks, especially basketball and football

Soundoff: Position changes could help Cooper, Smith

08/13/2013 3:10 PM

08/13/2013 3:12 PM

It happens every year. Players switch positions after a week or two of preseason camp for comfort or a better chance to play. It was no surprise when USC freshmen Pharoh Cooper and Jamari Smith each tweeted on Sunday night that they had taken different directions.

Cooper is switching from corner to receiver, while Smith is switching from tailback to corner. From a comfort standpoint, it makes sense – the last time Cooper played wideout, it was in a split role as Offensive MVP of the Shrine Bowl, and Smith played corner in high school while also playing running back.

For a better chance to play? Cooper seems to have traded a chance (slim, but a chance) to play this year for a near-automatic redshirt, while Smith has done the opposite.

USC has corner experience in Vic Hampton and Jimmy Legree, but they’ll need backups. If Cooper could have learned the schemes, that could have been him. Now, that will be Smith, who was running fourth string - at best - at running back.

Cooper, meanwhile, will join a deep group of receivers already stocked with Bruce Ellington, Damiere Byrd and Nick Jones. The backups are Shaq Roland, Shamier Jeffery and Jody Fuller. A 5-foot-11 former corner is basically guaranteed to sit.

Of course, I once also famously claimed that Ellington would never be a productive football player.

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