Several South Carolina coaches have been hesitant to officially name newcomer Damiere Byrd as the Gamecocks’ fastest player, but the issue already has been settled among the players.
Byrd and cornerback Marty Markett, who previously held the title, raced during the team’s summer workouts sessions, running back Marcus Lattimore said. With the entire team watching, Byrd edged Markett. Nothing comes with the title other than pride, Lattimore said.
“You just get the rep,” Lattimore said. “It’s Damiere now. It really doesn’t look like he’s running fast, like (current 100-meter world record holder) Usain Bolt, but he’s just pulling away. It’s crazy.”
Byrd won a national high school title in the 60-meter dash in March with a time of 6.74 and has been timed at 4.26 in the 40-yard dash, he said. Byrd, who has stood out in the first eight days of practice, brings more to the table than speed, wide receiver coach Steve Spurrier Jr. said.
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“Damiere’s got really, really good hands for not a big guy, and he’s got really good balance,” Spurrier Jr. said. “People come and shove him around, and he kind of maintains his center of gravity really well. For a smaller guy, I thought he’s done a really good job of that.”
Redshirt freshman cornerback Vic Hampton has been on his best behavior in fall camp, assistant head coach for defense Ellis Johnson said. Hampton, who is Stephon Gilmore’s top backup at cornerback, was told this summer that he would not have his scholarship renewed for disciplinary reasons before being given a second chance by head coach Steve Spurrier.
“He’s done really well. He’s like some of the rest of them that you talk about, you knock on wood,” Johnson said. “He hasn’t done anything since camp has started but do positive things on and off the field. Hopefully, he’ll continue to do that. He can be a bonus for us. He could really add to that secondary.”
Hampton will miss the first game of the season because of academic issues, Spurrier said.
TONE IT DOWN
Spurrier chided Lattimore on Tuesday for being so direct in his desire to win the Heisman Trophy this season, Spurrier told ESPN on Wednesday during a SportsCenter interview.
“It’s OK to want that thing, but I told him, ‘If you keep talking about it, those guys are going to ask you something about it every week,’ ” Spurrier said. “I said we probably shouldn’t talk about individual awards but team awards during the season. He said, ‘I got you coach, you’re right.’ He’s such a wonderful young man he wants to do everything he can to help our team.”
ESPN’s Joe Schad and Jesse Palmer attended Wednesday’s practice.
Freshman linebacker Cedrick Cooper, an under-the-radar signee out of Lithonia, Ga., impressed Johnson in the team’s summer conditioning program but hasn’t maintained that progress this fall.
“Physically, there is no question he’s going to be able to play for us at some point in time,” Johnson said. “He’s struggling to learn the big picture. He’s a little bit behind all those guys right now. It’ll take him quite a while to catch up, but I have been really pleased with his effort.”
The Gamecocks practiced for two hours Wednesday morning, finishing with a few scrimmage snaps. Freshman wide receiver K.J. Brent had several nice catches, but it’s too early to read much into that, Spurrier Jr. said.
“K.J. had a couple balls come his way and played well,” Spurrier Jr. said. “It’s all about opportunities at receiver, different coverages. You sometimes get more opportunities than others. He had some balls come his way and made some good catches.”
Akeem Auguste (foot), Travian Robertson (hamstring) and Byron McKnight (hamstring) remained on the sideline due to injury.
Shon Carson, Kenny Miles
Steve Spurrier Jr.