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Football freshmen off to flying start

USC has not had the best track record when it comes to freshmen enrolling early.

But not long after South Pointe defensive backs Stephon Gilmore and DeVonte Holloman and Tampa tailback Jarvis Giles arrived on campus in January, coaches raved about their athleticism – and maturity level.

The three did not disappoint during spring practice. Gilmore was a starter at corner by the end of the first week, while Holloman and Giles also had strong showings that secured their spots in the two-deep.

The freshmen went to work in the classroom, as well. USC recruiting coordinator Shane Beamer said all three posted a 3.0 or better during the spring semester.

That is good news for a program that has seen several of its previous early enrollees struggle academically or from a behavior standpoint.

It’s got to be tough for a high school senior to jump into college life in mid-year, and forego his senior prom, graduation and everything else that goes on during those carefree, final days of high school. Not every athlete is ready to handle the transition.

But it’s clear that Giles, Gilmore and Holloman were more than ready.

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A couple of odds and ends …

–Suspended cornerback C.C. Whitlock, who enrolled early in ’08, has to do well in summer school (perhaps as well as straight-As) to be eligible in the fall.

–Defensive tackle Ladi Ajiboye, who is also suspended, appears to be in better shape. Even if both players are eligible, Steve Spurrier said both would be suspended for an undetermined number of games.

–There are others on the bubble, but as of now USC has two signees it does not expect to qualify – South Pointe receiver Charles Holmes and Beaufort defensive lineman Duane Chisolm. Holmes likely will be placed in a junior college, while Chisolm will either go the JUCO or prep school route.

–Free safety Chris Culliver is recovering from his April shoulder surgery, although Ellis Johnson believes it will be mid-June before Culliver is cleared to resume physical activities.

–Fifth-year offensive lineman Lemuel Jeanpierre had minor knee surgery to clean out loose cartilage from his spring injury.

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