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Maddox solidifies backup

Tailback Brian Maddox makes a big gain as linebacker Rodney Paulk, 45, pursues in the first quarter of the annual Garnet and Black Spring Game at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Tailback Brian Maddox makes a big gain as linebacker Rodney Paulk, 45, pursues in the first quarter of the annual Garnet and Black Spring Game at Williams-Brice Stadium. The State

The defense may have been limited in its pass rushing, but there was no halts on run-stopping. That made all the more impressive what Brian Maddox did in USC's spring football game.

The tailback from Anderson rushed for 87 yards, averaging nearly nine yards a carry. That apparently locked down the backup tailback role for Maddox, who took advantage of the chance provided by starter Mike Davis' hamstring injury this spring.

"I think Brian led the state in rushing here a few yards ago, averaged nine yards a carry (Saturday)," coach Steve Spurrier said. "Brian I guess is definitely our backup tailback there."

Maddox's highlight was a 37-yard touchdown run, when he went off-tackle on third-and-1, showing his ability to avoid a tackle, then turned on his speed to finish the run.

"I was surprised actually that it was that big of a hole, because that was the biggest hole I saw all spring," said Maddox, who will be a sophomore next season. "My eyes got real big."

DiMarco to tight end. Patrick DiMarco will be going from first-team fullback to third-team tight end, but that actually appears to be a compliment.

Spurrier said he wants DiMarco, who will be a sophomore, to see more time on the field. The Gamecocks' tight end depth chart has walk-ons after Jared Cook and Weslye Saunders. DiMarco is big enough (6-foot-1 and 242 pounds) to make the move and provide depth.

"DiMarco's a good athlete that needs to get involved," Spurrier said. "So I need to go tell his mom and dad we're moving him from fullback. Fullback doesn't get enough action in our offense."

Hillary watches. Future Gamecock Aramis Hillary seemed unaware Saturday of all the attention he's been getting.

A senior at Strom Thurmond High School, Spurrier has mentioned him often as a quarterback he likes, and the uncertainty at the position makes it likely Hillary will get a strong look this fall. But on Saturday, Spurrier said it wouldn't be "realisitic" for Hillary and fellow recruit Reid McCollum to play this fall.

Hillary may already know some of the offense, having been a regular at spring practice. But he seemed to agree with Spurrier's latest assessment, saying he would open to redshirting.

"I don't know about (playing) right away. But if I feel like I can play, whether it's next year or two years down the road," Hillary said. "But whatever it is I want it to be for the best for the team."

The 12th man. The day's best play, or at least the most fun, came when Scottie Spurrier came off the bench —- during the play —- to catch a 46-yard touchdown pass from Chris Smelley.

The officials called the obvious penalty for illegal participation. But the defense declined the penalty and allowed the play to stand, at the best of somebody, possibly the receiver's father.

"That's the first time we've hit the off-the-bench play," Steve Spurrier said with a laugh. "You all see it every spring. We get him wide open and the quarterback just can't get him. ... That was real encouraging that this year we caught the off-the-bench play. I found out that wasn't real easy."

Flipping for it. Spurrier gave the defensive players the go-ahead to celebrate or "dance a little" if they turned a turnover into a touchdown. Chris Culliver cashed in.

The safety did a front-flip into the end zone when he finished off an 83-yard fumble recovery.

Reach Emerson at (803) 771-8676.