USC Gamecocks Football

Playing another sport cost him spring. Where things stand for Gamecocks speed back

2-sport standout Lavonte Valentine impressed with USC recruiting approach

Running back and track star Lavonte Valentine committed to South Carolina on July 4.
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Running back and track star Lavonte Valentine committed to South Carolina on July 4.

South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp wanted to make this clear: There will be no limitations put on second-year tailback Lavonte Valentine.

Granted, he hardly participated in spring ball while running track, but the coaches saw a player who did what was needed to make up for that.

“Lavonte made every effort he could,” Muschamp said, “between practices, between days that we’re off and time when he was away from track and academics to be able to come over and meet.

“As far as that’s concerned, he should be caught up pretty well.”

If he eventually works his way into the lineup, opponents might have some trouble catching up with him. His best moment this spring has been a 10.57 100-meter dash, an impressive time by any measure.

Muschamp said Valentine will be delayed in joining the full-time weight program, as track is slated to run through early June. The coach praised his work with the track team thus far.

Even with track, he got in meetings with new running backs coach Thomas Brown to stay caught up on spring.

Valentine hasn’t been able to see the field much since he arrived on campus. He tore his ACL during his senior season of high school. It kept him off the practice field in spring and limited him through much of summer.

He worked in practice through the season but never played in a game and then settled into track this semester.

His last healthy high school season, he put up 884 yards and 14 touchdowns, averaging 9.6 yards per carry.

South Carolina has a set of backs, including seniors Rico Dowdle, A.J. Turner and Mon Denson, but no one quite has the potential as a burner that Valentine does. The Gamecocks have not been consistently explosive on the ground in a few seasons.

For the moment, he’ll be out honing that speed, far away from anyone who wants to hit him. But then, he’ll have to reacclimate to the sport that’s his main pursuit.

“He’s got to obviously get in the weight room because there’s a different thought process,” Muschamp said, “as far as the track conditioning is concerned and the football and physicality.”