During fall training camp, South Carolina’s football players have to be in the building and started on their day no later than 7 a.m. They often don’t finish a schedule that includes practices and multiple meetings until 10 p.m.
The math of that doesn’t leave much time to get home and get a good night’s rest, so many of the Gamecocks are improvising this year.
“A lot of guys sleep here overnight,” senior linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams said. “It’s just being in camp mode. You can wake up at 6:30, and you are right here for the time we have to be in the building.”
Allen-Williams slept in the building as a freshman and sophomore but has given up the practice. Many veterans still do, though, including senior safety Steven Montac.
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“No reason to leave,” Montac said. “You have to come back right in the morning and you can’t leave once you’re here. It’s not that bad. Get extra sleep.”
Montac sleeps on an air mattress provided by the team. He was set up in the defensive team meeting room at Williams-Brice Stadium but has moved to the running backs meeting room for more privacy, he said.
“I’ve got a blanket and a pillow,” he said. “That’s fine with me.”
Some players have a more elaborate setup. For instance, tight ends Jacob August and Kiel Pollard have set up a large camping tent in the players’ lounge for their overnights.
“They get creative with it,” junior defensive lineman Daniel Fennell said. “They don’t want to be late for anything. You’re here all day. You might as well get used to being here.”
Sleeping at the facility increases the bonding potential of fall camp, a time many times use to increase the cohesion of their team, Allen-Williams said. South Carolina began fall practices Aug. 2 and the “camp” portion of preseason will end Aug. 21, two days before the start of school. NCAA rules forbidding players from spending more than 20 mandatory hours per week on their sport go into effect when the semester starts.
“It’s different. It’s fun staying here,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing about camp is building that camaraderie around the team, making sure that everybody is together when the season starts.”
It also gives the players time away from their coaches, none of whom spend the night in the facility.
“If I got out of here at 5 a.m. and had to be back at 5:30 a.m., I would go home and touch home and come back,” special teams coordinator Coleman Hutzler said. “I would not sleep in my office.”
Even without supervision, there’s not a lot of goofing off overnight. There is a strict “no messing with the sleeping” rule, Allen-Williams said.
“You’re not going to be up all night because practice in the morning is no joke,” he said. “You don’t want to be tired for practice.”