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Football | McCollum reaffirms he plans to return

Reid McCollum is the lesser-known of the two quarterbacks who ended up not participating at USC’s spring football practice. But like Stephen Garcia, McCollum plans to be back this summer.

McCollum, from Summerville High, enrolled at USC for the second semester, intending to participate in spring practice. When he left school after two weeks, citing homesickness, it raised the possibility he would end up playing elsewhere.

He denied that Monday, after attending the Gamecocks’ practice at Williams-Brice Stadium.

“I’ll definitely be back, no question about that. (Not returning) was never a thought,” McCollum said.

McCollum plans to re-enroll for the second session of summer school. He said he was not affected by the news around Garcia, who has been suspended until August 15 after being cited for underage drinking.

“Oh, no, not at all. I had planned way before that to be back up here,” McCollum said. “I actually look forward to competing against him, and I’m sure he’ll be back up here.”

The absence of the two quarterbacks left two scholarship players at the position this spring: Chris Smelley and Tommy Beecher. Coach Steve Spurrier has spoken highly of another incoming freshman, Aramis Hillary of Strom Thurmond High, but has had little to say about McCollum, who last year became the first in-state quarterback to commit to Spurrier at USC.

McCollum said Monday was the third spring practice he has attended, and he was impressed by Smelley and Beecher.

“They looked pretty good out there today, and when (Garcia) comes back I know it’s gonna be just as much with him,” McCollum. “I’m just looking forward for the opportunity to compete.”

A quasi-scrimmage. While it looked like a scrimmage, Monday was still technically a practice for the Gamecocks. There was no tackling, and no stats were kept. The NCAA allows teams to scrimmage three times in the spring, including the spring game, and the Gamecocks have used two of their full-fledged scrimmages.

The offense operated with a 25-second play clock for the first time this spring, and the rust showed. There was one delay-of-game penalty, and three timeouts to avoid more calls.

“We had a lot of trouble with the clock,” Spurrier said. “A lot of the freshman don’t know where to line up, and we’ve got to get the plays in a little quicker. And the quarterbacks gotta talk faster. It was some good work to understand that you’ve gotta get moving.”

Respect from Corso. The Gamecocks’ recent media nemesis was overheard last weekend offering praise.

“He said we were a dark horse, a surprise team, something like that. Who knows, let’s hope he’s right,” Spurrier said. “We’ve got a long way to go though. We’ve got a lot of good players, let’s see what happens.”

Extra points. Tailback Bobby Wallace and safety Chris Hail both practiced during the week for the first time. The pair were being held out during the spring to concentrate on academics, but Spurrier said they “got a reprieve” since the team doesn’t have practice Wednesday. ...

Receiver Jason Barnes sprained his ankle trying to make a catch. Safety Darian Stewart appeared to hurt his hamstring, and sat out the last portion on Monday.

Reach Emerson at (803) 771-8676.