Two days into practice, and defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward feels good about his decision to flip-flop his safeties, moving junior Brison Williams from strong safety to free safety and the duo of junior Kadetrix Marcus and sophomore T.J. Gurley from free to strong.
“It’ll definitely stick,” Ward said. “Brison with the free safety, and we’ll figure out if Kadetrix or T.J. is going to be the strong. Right now, I think Kadetrix is ahead.”
Williams has started 13 of his 21 career games and has two interceptions, each during last season. Marcus, nicknamed “J.J.,” was named most improved defensive back during spring practice and has played in 18 career games. Gurley was an All-SEC Freshman Team selection last year after playing in eight games, injuring his knee at Florida.
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Receiver Shaq Roland and tight end Jerell Adams, held out of Friday’s first day of preseason camp because of academics, were each present Saturday. Roland took some reps at kickoff return, although he dropped one kick and quickly cranked out the requisite punishment push-ups.
Roland, the Lexington High product who was named “Mr. Football” in 2011, caught five passes for 80 yards and a touchdown last year. Along with Shamier Jeffery, he was named the most improved wide receiver during spring practice. Adams, also named an all-SEC freshman, caught four passes for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Don’t check eBay
Jadeveon Clowney stopped to sign a football before he entered the Proving Grounds, until coach Steve Spurrier spotted him. Riding by on his golf cart, the Head Ball Coach shouted, “Can’t sign balls, JD,” to which Clowney quickly handed back the pen and said, “You heard coach.”
USC is always watching to see if autographed items end up for sale anywhere, which could bring a potential NCAA violation. The posters the players sign at Fan Appreciation Day (Aug. 11) are the only items endorsed by USC that can be signed with no future problems.
So long my buddy
Nick Jones is bidding for a starting spot at wide receiver, and is listed as one on the preseason depth chart. It’s a welcome situation for the junior, although it’s strange to see him on the field without his best friend, Marcus Lattimore.
The two, each from Byrnes High, have played together through the ranks. Jones has two years of college eligibility, though, and Lattimore is embarking on his rookie season in the NFL.
“It’s kind of weird, but normal at the same time,” Jones said on Friday. “I know he’s working hard. This is our first year not playing together but I expect great things from him and from myself this year.”
Connor Shaw looks bigger across the chest and shoulders than he did last year, and after a decent first day of practice, threw much better during the second. Shaw zipped his throws to his receivers in passing drills, with a mix of short and long.
“It felt great today, for the first time in a long time,” Shaw said on Friday. “I kind of forgot how it felt like to play healthy, and it felt great today. I felt the freshest I’ve been, probably since I came in my freshman year.”
Jimmy Legree had two interceptions in pass drills. Williams had one.
Nobody had on a yellow jersey, but Jeffery and Jones missed a few plays with what appeared to be cramps. Each limped to the sidelines and were immediately stretched out.
Offensive lineman Cody Gibson suffered what appeared to be a right knee injury, but he walked off the field with no assistance before being examined on the on-field medical table. He finished practice sitting up on the table, with an icepack on his knee.
South Carolina holds its media day Sunday afternoon.
The Gamecocks will practice again at 7:15 p.m. on Sunday. It is open to the public.