Josh Kendall

Perry Orth staying all business about USC’s QB race

South Carolina quarterback Perry Orth
South Carolina quarterback Perry Orth

Perry Orth, among other things, is a businessman.

South Carolina’s junior quarterback has owned a lawn care business with his brothers for years. A walk-on until Tuesday, he has been working at Publix to help pay his way through college.

Like any good businessman, he’s always looking for opportunity in the marketplace, and he thinks he might have found one in the Gamecocks’ crowded quarterback competition. Orth is not the 6-foot-3 prototype Connor Mitch, and he’s not hyper-athletic like incoming freshman Lorenzo Nunez. So the 6-foot Florida native is trying to become something in between.

“I completely changed my body composition from March until now,” Orth said Wednesday. “I went from 18 percent body fat to, now, it’s about 14 percent. I am moving better than I ever have. I can just tell by the way I am moving and dropping back that this is the most athletic I have ever been in my entire life.”

Orth played at 215 pounds last year and is down to 203 in the first week of fall camp. He’s hoping the transition helps differentiate him from Mitch, Nunez and Michael Scarnecchia and allows him to start South Carolina’s season-opener against North Carolina on Sept. 3.

“If I can run and get 5 or 6 yards and that will move the chains, maybe that’ll be the best option for us,” he said. “I think that’s a huge thing that made Connor (Shaw) so good. He never had to force it down the field, because he knew he could always scramble and get those extra yards.”

South Carolina’s quarterback competition is weeks from being settled, but Orth’s work already has paid off in one way. After two years as a walk-on, he was placed on scholarship during a team meeting Tuesday afternoon. Orth’s work in the summer weight program was part of the reason he earned that scholarship, head coach Steve Spurrier said.

“I still have some more work to do if I want to see the field, but I think Coach Spurrier realized how hard I have been working and he rewarded me for that,” Orth said.

It was the ultimate validation for a player who was a no-star recruit at Ponte Vedra High and spent his freshman year at Florida State College – not Florida State University.

“It was a dream come true,” Orth said. “I have been dreaming of playing at a school like this since I was 7-years old. It’s just so rewarding, but I can’t stop now. I have come so far. I still have to keep my foot on the gas and keep on pushing forward.”

He might coast a little at work, though. In fact, he’s expecting to turn in his two-week notice at the Vista Publix any day now.

“I need to do that soon,” he said.

That will give him more time to focus on the Gamecocks’ quarterback competition. Day 2 of fall practice didn’t do anything to separate any of the quartet of quarterbacks, Spurrier said.

“They all looked pretty good,” Spurrier said. “Lorenzo knows a lot more what to do than you would think for a true freshman, so that’s encouraging. He can run better than all of them, and he’s learning the offense, too. He stands in there and throws it. He’s a real quarterback.”

Spurrier also continued to hint that he might play more than one quarterback this season.

“No one has proven enough to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to play the whole game right now,’” he said. “It’ll work its way out.”

Mitch is more confident than he has been in his career because of his knowledge of the offense, he said Wednesday.

“I am a competitor,” he said. “I love football and going out there and beating the other team. There is nothing better than that.”

Nunez still is trying to adjust two practices into his collegiate career but is eager to take on whatever role is asked of him, he said.

“It’s fast and hectic,” he said Wednesday. “I just have to keep up with everybody else, and I think I’m doing a pretty good job at it.”

As for Orth, his work already has paid off once, and he’s banking on it working out one more time.