South Carolina opened spring practice Tuesday short two wide receivers, but both are expected back soon.
Junior Damiere Byrd, the team’s second-leading returner at the position, watched from the sideline after having LASIK surgery. Byrd, who had 14 catches for 366 yards, presumably will no longer need the thick-rimmed glasses that had become a trademark.
“Hopefully, he’s not going to have to wear those glasses as much as he did, and hopefully he’ll see the ball better,” coach Steve Spurrier said. “In the bowl game, he made a super catch on the first one and the second one bounced off his facemask. I don’t know how that happened. I think his eyes being better will help him.”
Sophomore Shaq Roland, who South Carolina coaches hope will make a big jump in production next season, sat out due to an “academic issue,” Spurrier said.
“He was not allowed to practice today, so hopefully he will be out here Thursday,” Spurrier said.
Roland had five catches for 80 yards last season.
Stocked at quarterback
Freshman quarterback Connor Mitch made his Gamecock debut after enrolling early in order to participate in spring practice. Mitch, 6-foot-3, 219 pounds, threw for more than 12,000 yards in four years at Wakefield High School in Raliegh, N.C.
“He’s doing OK. He threw OK,” Spurrier said. Brendan “Nosovitch threw some good ones in there. Both of those guys got a lot of snaps. Dylan (Thompson) was throwing well. These guys have been throwing since January. It’s really neat when you have players that just love playing football, love practicing, love trying to learn all they can about their position.
Starting quarterback Connor Shaw will not practice this spring after having surgery on his left foot. He watched Tuesday’s workout wearing a walking boot.
Deke Adams, who was hired to replace Brad Lawing in the offseason, coached his first practice with the Gamecocks defensive line Tuesday.
“Coach Adams is an excellent coach,” Spurrier said. “He’s got a great track record. He didn’t work his way up to this job being an average coach. He knows what he’s doing, and he has a good demeanor about him.”
Freshman Kelvin Rainey is making the most of his offseason move from tight end to linebacker. Rainey had two interceptions during team drills Tuesday. Phillip Dukes also had an interception.
“A lot of defensive guys had picks, but that’s OK. We like to see the ball in the air. We don’t like to see sacks in practice,” Spurrier said. “It was a fun day for most of the players. Nobody got hurt. We ran around and tried to throw it around a little bit. it was a bit of a productive day.”
Spurrier post-practice comments
Tuesday practice sights, sounds