South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier suggested the worst Sunday when he talked about freshman cornerback Rico McWilliams.
Minutes later, junior running back Marcus Lattimore all but confirmed it.
“I know he’s hurting right now, but he’s going to get through it,” Lattimore said. “He’s had a (torn) ACL before, and he came back fast.”
McWilliams, a three-star prospect from Hampton, Ga., injured his left knee during a non-contact drill in Saturday night’s practice. Spurrier stopped short of confirming another ligament tear for McWilliams.
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“It may require surgery,” Spurrier said. “Hopefully, Rico will be back as strong as ever, if not this year, then next year for spring practice.”
McWilliams was competing for a backup defensive back position. Lattimore praised McWilliams’ work ethic and locker room presence, calling him “one of our future leaders.”
“He worked Monday through Saturday, and we only worked out Monday through Thursday,” Lattimore said. “He worked the whole summer. He did everything he could. He treated me with respect, and you can ask anybody in the locker room how he treated people. Every time I go on the field, I’ll be thinking about him.”
NICK OF TIME
Nick St. Germain has had a busier week outside of football than most of South Carolina’s newcomers. The freshman kicker from Powder Springs, Ga., retook the ACT in early July and found out last week that he cleared the final hurdle for admittance to USC.
St. Germain got the good news from USC’s compliance office on Wednesday and moved to Columbia on Thursday, just in time for Friday’s first practice.
“It was a little difficult, but everything happens for a reason, and it all worked out,” he said.
St. Germain is the school’S first recruited scholarship kicker since Ryan Succop. He was the last player in the 2012 signing class to enroll.
“It was a lot of stress gone,” he said. “I was glad to get here and start working.”
St. Germain is competing with senior Adam Yates and redshirt freshman Landon Ard for place-kicking duties.
Sophomore quarterback Dylan Thompson, who played in four games and threw two passes last year, made great strides during the summer, Spurrier said.
“If something happens to (starting quarterback Connor Shaw), we have confidence he can go play,” Spurrier said. “He’s 6-3, he can run around, he can make all the throws. Dylan and Connor are real students of the game. We are pretty confident we have two quarterbacks who can get the ball up in the air to our receivers.”
PAY TO PLAY
An NCAA proposal that would allow boosters of a school to contribute money directly to a head coach’s salary didn’t seem like anything new to Spurrier when it was mentioned Sunday.
“They haven’t been doing that?” he said.
The rising standards of South Carolina football were driven home to Spurrier on Saturday during a visit to campus.
“One of the guys that works on campus, he said, ‘Hey coach, are we going to have a winning record this year?’” Spurrier said. “I said, ‘A winning record? Our goals have gone a little bit past a winning record.’ But I started thinking, ‘That was probably what you used to say around here.’ I hadn’t heard that question in a long time.”
South Carolina’s program had a lifetime losing record when Spurrier took over but has moved to 554-543-44 in the last seven years.
“We’ve got better players and maybe a little bit better assistant coaches,” Spurrier said. “I told our chaplain, Adrian Despres, I said, ‘You and I have been here when we were 6-6 and 7-6, so it’s nothing that we’ve done any better, it’s those other guys we’ve gotten.’”
NO GO ON PGA
Spurrier will not slip away from practice to attend the PGA Championship on Kiawah Island this week, he said. Spurrier has played The Ocean Course twice in the last seven years, he said.
PGA Tour pro and Camden resident Tommy Gainey attended the Gamecocks practice Saturday night before heading to the tournament.
“We’ll be pulling for Two Gloves to make a big splash down there,” Spurrier said.
TO THE TOP
South Carolina’s seniors met before practice began to discuss their goals for the season, and one thing to come out of the meeting was an official slogan for the 2012 season – To The Top. The Gamecocks shout the motto when breaking each team huddle and have T-shirts bearing the slogan.
-- Staff writer Dwayne McLemore contributed to this report.