South Carolina had encouraging and sobering news on Tuesday.
Junior forward Michael Carrera, out the past three games with a concussion, is doing fine in his rehabilitation and could be cleared to play on Friday when Clemson visits.
Freshman guard TeMarcus Blanton, out for the season with a left hip injury, is hoping to recover, but his injury was likened to a career-ender.
“They compared my injury to Bo Jackson, but I try not to worry about it,” said Blanton, speaking for the first time this season because of Frank Martin’s rule of not allowing freshmen to talk to the media until after their first semester. “I try to be positive about everything and hope I come back stronger.”
Blanton was hurt in practice two weeks before the season-opener. He has had surgery on his hip but still walks with the help of crutches. Doctors have given him indications that he could be OK for next year, but the comparison to Jackson didn’t ease his concerns.
Jackson was forced to retire from professional football after a 1991 tackle led to the deterioration of his left hip joint. His other hip also gave out while playing professional baseball. While he did return to baseball in 1993, he was never the same athlete.
“Yeah, we’re all concerned about his injury and three, four years from now, but we’re not going to dwell on the negative,” Martin said. “We’re going to follow his spirit. The good man upstairs has to look out for him and make sure he heals the right way, and I know if the man upstairs does that, TeMarcus’ spirit and will will allow him to play again.”
Carrera missed USC’s wins against UNC Asheville and Marshall with a concussion and had a setback while practicing for Oklahoma State. He was cleared to practice, then felt lightheaded afterward, so he was nixed for the game and had to re-start the process.
Martin said Carrera has passed all of his concussion tests. If he gets through scaled-back practice Tuesday and Wednesday without feeling dizzy, he will be cleared to fully practice on Thursday. If Carrera is out, the Gamecocks will play their fourth straight game with 10 players.
Freshman forward Shamiek Sheppard, who also spoke on Tuesday, said his recovery from a torn right ACL during a summer workout is proceeding nicely. Sheppard is expected to be fine for next season.