Steve Spurrier added to a pile of praise already heaped on South Carolina’s young linebackers on Friday.
“I tell you what I am impressed about is these linebackers,” the Gamecocks head coach told the Columbia Touchdown Club. “Nobody has ever heard of them, but they fly around, they hit and they can catch. You are going to love watching Larenz Bryant play.”
Bryant is a 6-foot, 215-pound freshman from Charlotte, N.C. Spurrier also singled out 6-foot, 234-pound freshman Jonathan Walton, who got a promotion at practice this week thanks to Spurrier.
“I asked linebackers coach Kirk Botkin, is he second (team) or third (team) with you right now?” Spurrier said. “He said, ‘He’s third right now.’ I said, ‘He could be second team over here on offense, you need to be using him more.’ He came in later and said, ‘By the way, Jonathan Walton is second team right now.’ ”
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Junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney “has really practiced well” after missing several workouts with minor injuries.
“He had a little shoulder, little kick in the leg or something that held him back for a while, but after a few conversations with him, he’s back doing well,” Spurrier said.
The Gamecocks won’t be shocked, Spurrier said, if this is the last season for juniors Vic Hampton and Kelcy Quarles. Hampton, a 5-10, 202-pound cornerback, and Quarles, a 6-4, 298-pound defensive tackle, might enter the NFL Draft after this season, he said.
“If they have good years they could possibly leave,” Spurrier said.
Freshman Pharoh Cooper, who was switched from cornerback to wide receiver earlier this week, made the move from high school quarterback to (briefly) college defensive back in hopes of following the footsteps of former Gamecock Stephon Gilmore, a first-round NFL draft pick.
“He’s an offensive guy,” Spurrier said. “He’s quick, he’s got moves, he’s got super hands. He’s a punt return guy.”
Cooper is “easing his way up the ladder” and could play this season, Spurrier said.
The Gamecocks worked out at their indoor facility on Friday afternoon after having to cancel a morning practice due to rain. The team is expected to hold its second scrimmage Satuday at 10 a.m. at Williams-Brice Stadium. The scrimmage is closed to the public.
“We are looking forward to making it a loud night in Williams-Brice. Let’s show the ACC and those Tar Heel people what noise and SEC fans are all about.”