South Carolina’s kicking competition isn’t finalized, but could be heading toward a surprising conclusion.
“You know, we’re close,” coach Steve Spurrier said after Thursday’s practice. “The guy who’s kicking in the front of the line right now is Elliott Fry, a true freshman kid from Texas that walked on and is still a walk-on. He’s been kicking a little bit better than the other guys on extra points/field goals.”
Fry was brought in as a preferred walk-on from Frisco, Texas, as part of an open competition for the job vacated by Adam Yates. He was competing with preseason listed starter Landon Ard and scholarship kicker Nick St. Germain for the job and has apparently edged each of them with six days to go until the season-opener.
Fry turned down a scholarship offer from Louisiana Tech (coached by former USC assistant coach Skip Holtz) to walk on at USC. He was 49-of-50 for Prince of Peace (Texas) Christian as a high-school senior and hit 8-of-9 field goals with a long of 44 yards.
Ard handled the kickoffs last season and could repeat that this season. Tyler Hull is expected to be the team’s punter.
Steve Spurrier Jr. hasn’t announced his top group of six wideouts for the opener, and with Bruce Ellington still laid up with a hamstring injury, the other receivers are looking at a potentially open spot. K.J. Brent, a redshirt sophomore who caught three passes for 28 yards last year, said the the competition is ongoing.
“We’re just competing for the spot,” Brent said. “It’s a week away. Really, whoever’s ready to play, whoever they think is ready to play, is going to play. I feel like I’ve done a good job this camp. I feel like we all have.”
Brent, Jody Fuller, Shaq Roland and Kwinton Smith are working to get into the rotation beside expected starters Damiere Byrd and Nick Jones (and Ellington, if he can get past his injury). Smith, the redshirt freshman from Dillon who also dabbled in baseball last year, also spoke on Thursday.
“All of us are just working hard and competing,” Smith said. “It’s going to come down to the last day.”
Starting tailback Mike Davis was coated in sweat, yet his grin remained unchanged. Seven days until the game was still too long.
“I can’t wait till the first game, I can’t wait,” he said before describing how eager he is to get his first carry out of the way. “I’ve got butterflies now.”
Kadetrix Marcus was full-go and Rory “Busta” Anderson was in a normal jersey, but limited. Ellington was in yellow but running around after practice as if he wasn’t bothered.
Players who did not practice or wore yellow jerseys were: Devin Washington (concussion), Jerell Adams (twisted left ankle), Carlton Heard (hamstring), James King (foot), Gerald Turner (ankle), Kyle Morini (dislocated left elbow), Ellington (hamstring), Cedrick Cooper (dislocated left elbow), Mike Matulis (shoulder) and Cody Gibson (sprained right knee).
The Gamecocks are taking Friday off and will next practice at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. It is closed to the public.