When South Carolina linebacker Larenz Bryant hopped on the team tram from the stadium to the practice field Tuesday, he saw a familiar yet surprising face.
Safety Chris Moody, the same Chris Moody who walked on senior day and announced his intention to transfer for his final collegiate season.
“I didn’t even know Chris Moody was back,” Bryant said. “It’s good having him back. I don’t know what’s going on. I haven't talked to him yet.”
Moody was back on the roster and back on the practice field in a No. 7 jersey Tuesday afternoon. The junior has played in 37 career games with seven starts and 48 career tackles.
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He returns to a spot that’s thin for the Gamecocks and his rejoining the team came as a surprise to coach Will Muschamp.
“Chris was going to transfer when we first got here, that was the word that I got,” Muschamp said, “recently expressed some desire to stay at South Carolina. So he’s still here and we gave him an opportunity to come out here and practice with us.”
When Muschamp was asked if Moody could help, the coach let out a hearty scoff as he answered.
“I hope so,” Muschamp said. “Goodnight. Me and (defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson) may line up at safety.”
The team came off a practice players and coach said was not up to par, the first Muschamp said he was a bit disappointed with. Cornerback Rico McWilliams admitted both the offense and the defense had their issues, and the defensive backs were out for about an extra half hour going over things with coaches.
“Didn’t have a good day,” McWilliams said when asked about the late finish. “It wasn’t a good day for anybody.”
He added he had an interception on the day, as did Chaz Elder and Moody, who had hardly seen the playbook.
Muschamp said the turnovers were concerning Tuesday with some ball-security issues and a tipped ball pick.
Muschamp said safety Antoine Wilder was limited a little by a hamstring Tuesday. He added Lorenzo Nunez suffered a hyper-extended knee in a Saturday practice, but called it nothing serious.
The Gamecocks will have a partial scrimmage Saturday, a full scrimmage a week later and finally the spring game a week after that.
Rashad Fenton is on the first group for kick return, rotating with Deebo Samuel and A.J. Turner. Samuel is taking the first reps at punt returner.
▪ In the open team period, Perry Orth took every snap with the first unit, while true freshman Brandon McIlwain got all the No. 2 work.
▪ McIlwain showed off his legs with a couple scrambles but also tossed an interception over the middle to Larenz Bryant, who had a clear lane toward the end zone.
▪ D.J. Park worked in at first-team left guard. D.J. Smith was with the first unit at safety.
▪ Wide receiver Terry Googer got some reps with the first team.
▪ Wide receiver Jalen Christian broke a big gain on a bubble screen.
▪ McIlwain hit a sharp slant to Christian Owens off play-action.
▪ There were a few more wrinkles out of the Gamecock offense. Running backs often motioned out of the backfield for swing screens. McIlwain also ran a draw out of that look and on one play, the offensive line blocked for a sweep going the opposite way of the screen.
▪ Buck Boosie Whitlow had a couple plays standing up, a step toward the 3-4 look that’s been much discussed.
▪ The whole staff grew animated and the energy level rose during an Oklahoma-style drill. Players tried to win a battle in a narrow chute as a running back came downhill from behind the offensive player.
Josh Kendall contributed to this report