Freshman offensive lineman Brandon Shell got his first taste of collegiate contact work Friday night.
Shell, who was the most highly rated member of South Carolina’s 2011 recruiting class after Jadeveon Clowney, spent the first two days of practice in a yellow, no-contact jersey because of offseason shoulder surgery. He joined Friday’s practice, however, in shoulder pads with the rest of his teammates and got “10 to 12” snaps, offensive line coach Shawn Elliott said.
Shell, who was rated a five-star prospect by one recruiting service, looked “like a freshman,” Elliott said.
“We are looking to ease him into it,” Elliott said. “He’s going to come along. We’ll see how he reacts in five or 10 days.”
Shell is backing up Kyle Nunn at left tackle.
Fellow freshman offensive lineman Mike Matulis remains sidelined with a sprained ankle he suffered in the team’s final week of summer conditioning, said Elliott, who is hopeful Matulis can return next week.
“I am real high on that guy,” Elliott said. “He’s athletic; he can move; he’s very intelligent; he’s strong physically. I was very anxious to work with him early on and get him in the mix, but it didn’t work out like I hoped.”
South Carolina’s defensive coaches are hoping more specialization will mean fewer mistakes in the Gamecocks secondary, safeties coach Jeep Hunter said.
“If you’re going to play boundary safety, play boundary safety. If you’re going to play free safety, play free safety,” Hunter said. “The one thing we are trying to do is make sure that they know their assignments at their positions.”
The Gamecocks were 11th in the SEC in pass defense last year while struggling with missed assignments and miscommunication.
“We have to cut back on some of the things we are giving them,” Hunter said. “We are just going to make sure we can line up and play solid football. We feel like we’ve got a pretty talented group, and we just want to line up and go play.”
D.J. Swearinger will start at boundary safety and be backed up by Brison Williams, Hunter said. Jimmy Legree remains the projected starter at free safety and is being backed up by Sharrod Golightly. Freshman Sheldon Royster, who got his first taste of contact work Friday, is the third-teamer at both spots. Royster missed the first two days with a shoulder injury.
Starting cornerback Akeem Auguste remains sidelined by an arch injury.
“According to the trainer, he’s getting better,” defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said. “If he continues to improve, he’ll probably be back early next week.”
Junior tailback Kenny Miles, who is Marcus Lattimore’s top backup, bulked up in the offseason, running backs coach Jay Graham said. Miles was listed as 184 pounds last year but entered camp weighing 203, Graham said. The weight is good weight, Graham said.
Graham also seconded Lattimore’s positive opinion of newcomer Shon Carson.
“Shon Carson has really done well,” Graham said.
The Gamecocks moved Friday night’s practice indoors due to inclement weather. They will practice Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. at their Bluff Road practice facilities. The workout is open to the public.
“He’s doing a lot better than he did in the spring. That’s really a big plus. He’s conditioned. He knows what to expect now. When he came in here in the spring, he didn’t know what to expect. When the bullets started flying, he started ducking. Now he kind of knows. He’s bringing his gun.” – Elliott on the development of backup right guard Kaleb Broome