These 13 signed up for an early dose of Will Muschamp, strength coach Jeff Dillman and South Carolina football.
Some days, the group of Gamecocks early enrollees might wish they were back in high school.
“Some of them right now are wondering why they wanted to be mid-year,” Muschamp said. “We’ve had some fun mornings”
Those mornings are spent in the weight room or on the field running. Dillman’s workout demands are grueling for seasoned college players, let alone those who where living with their parents a month ago.
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But there’s a boost they get, perks to being part of a college football program for a spring semester rather than joining in summer. They span most parts of a player’s experience, with the weight room front and center.
“They’re getting oriented to the workouts,” Muschamp said. “They’re getting used to the work capacity, which they’ve never worked at before. When we start spring ball, they’re going to be able to learn the system.”
The spring offers a totally different pace from the August practices that would be the start of many college careers.
Muschamp said practicing every other day allows the off-field day to make corrections and install scheme for the next day. Players get to hear things and go through the installation twice.
“So it’s a slower process for them at this time,” Muschamp said. “They’re getting oriented academically and to campus. They’re not getting ready for a game. The process is just a much more controlled environment.”
It also removes the pressure of the end of camp leading into game week. The end of August, after the 12th practice, attention starts turning forward. Coaches begin thinking about who needs more reps, who will fit into different spots in the first game week.
This group of 13, a group that includes quarterback Dakereon Joyner, center Hank Manos and corner Israel Mukuamu, will just get to get their feet wet in workouts, in school and in their first college practice experience.
“I’ve never seen this not work and not be a success for a young man academically and athletically,” Muschamp said. “In any situation.”