Two of South Carolina’s defensive starters will sit out at least the first two weeks of spring practice.
Middle linebacker Kaiwan Lewis and spur Sharrod Golightly each had arthroscopic knee procedures this winter to clear up nagging pain from the 2013 season, linebackers coach Kirk Botkin said Tuesday.
Lewis, a junior, started 10 games last season and is expected to be the starter in the middle next season. He was third on the team with 54 tackles. Golightly, a senior, started all 12 regular season games last year and had 47 tackles.
“They are saying (they will be back) before spring ball is out, but they’re not saying when just yet,” Botkin said.
Their absence means more snaps for younger players. Sophomores Marcquis Roberts and T.J. Holloman are splitting time at middle linebacker. Sophomores Jordan Diggs and Larenz Bryant are now taking the first- and second-team reps at spur.
If Bryant cannot crack the spur rotation this season, there’s a chance he could be moved, but it’s more likely the Gamecocks will be patient with him at that position, Botkin said.
“We have talked about” moving him, Botkin said. “He has a lot of ability and natural instincts. We just have to get him where he is playing assignment football a little bit better.”
Matulis on the move
Junior offensive lineman Mike Matulis, who has played mostly tackle in his collegiate career and is listed on the spring depth chart as the top backup at that position, actually is competing for a starting offensive guard position, head coach Steve Spurrier said. Matulis missed all of 2013 and half of 2012 due to shoulder surgery.
“Mike is playing one of the guards right now,” Spurrier said. “He’s vying for that (spot vacated by Ronald Patrick) right now.”
Spurrier is not in favor of an early signing period for recruiting, he said.
“I like what we are doing now. I always have,” he said. “The ability to give guys until February to change their mind is smart. A lot of stuff happens throughout the course of the season, coaches get fired, stuff happens. They may want to change their mind. If you wait until February, it’s fair for all.”
The Gamecocks held their second of 15 spring practices Tuesday and used their indoor facility for the second time.
“It was just a little too cold to go out there today,” Spurrier said.
South Carolina is scheduled to practice outdoors at its Bluff Road facility Thursday and Friday afternoon and at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday at 10 a.m. Those workouts are open to the public.
At Tuesday’s practice, “I think (wide receiver) Jody Fuller had his best practice ever as a Gamecock.”
Wide receiver Kane Whitehurst suffered a sprained left foot.
Spurrier also said that quarterbacks Connor Mitch and Brendan Nosovitch are “way behind Dylan Thompson.”