Connor Shaw isn’t the only quarterback with whom South Carolina assistant G.A. Mangus is pleased early in spring practice.
“Dylan (Thompson) has been a pleasant surprise,” said Mangus, the Gamecocks’ quarterbacks coach. “He’s a football head. You could tell he has paid attention and learned some stuff and used his redshirt year wisely, so we’re going to give him a chance to play but he’s got a long way to go.”
Thompson, a redshirt freshman, will get plenty of snaps in Saturday’s scrimmage, Mangus said.
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Sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore had praise Thursday for quarterback Connor Shaw’s development, and Shaw returned the favor.
“He is a freak of nature right now,” Shaw said of Lattimore. “In the weight room you should see him. He’s about 230 (pounds) and lean, and he’s gotten faster. It’s pretty freaky.”
Junior tight end Justice Cunningham, the Gamecocks’ expected starter at the position, will wear a cast completely covering his right hand throughout spring practice, he said Thursday. Cunningham had surgery in January to repair a ligament in his ring finger.
“It was hurt all last season,” he said. “I did it my freshman year but I didn’t get surgery until this year.”
Cunningham is practicing with his teammates and expects to compete in all the scrimmages but acknowledges it will be tough to prove himself as a receiver with one hand covered in plaster.
“I feel if the ball comes my way I can get it and I can break a few tackles and make some plays for the team,” he said. “I don’t want to put a label on myself. I want to be the best I can at (receiving and blocking).”
Cornerback Victor Hampton did not return to practice Thursday as expected. Hampton missed Tuesday’s practice for academic reasons, coach Steve Spurrier said.
Cornerback Marty Markett was in a yellow, no-contact jersey and did not practice with the team.
South Carolina’s defensive backs had a good day in one-on-one drills and team work Thursday. Jimmy Legree had at least one interception during the workout.
New assistant coach John Butler is coaching spurs as well as special teams.
G.A. Mangus, Connor Shaw
Marcus Lattimore, Kenny Miles, Eric Baker
T.J. Johnson, Kaleb Broome
Jason Barnes, Justice Cunningham
Shawn Elliott, John Butler