This article was originally published in the Oct. 19 edition of Spurs & Feathers.
After his first spring practice at USC, coach Steve Spurrier indicated that as many as 15 to 17 of the incoming class could wind up playing this season. It hasn't quite worked out that way. Counting the two junior college transfers, Mike West and Brandon Isaac, 12 signees from the 2005 class have made it to the playing field.
"Did I say we might play 15-17? We could have played all of them if we had chosen to, but they wouldn't have played that much. It's a combination of some returning players stepping up and some of the freshmen just ready to play.
"We have really tried to hold out all the freshmen unless they were contributors. We feel the ones who are actively playing now are contributing to, hopefully, our success."
Here's an update by Coach Spurrier of the 2005 signees
Yvan Banag, Safety. Has seen action in all six games as a reserve safety and special teams member. "Banag played quite a bit in the second half against Kentucky and he does a super job covering kickoffs and punts. He's one of those true freshmen who are playing this year and he's doing well on the field and in school as well."
Tommy Beecher, Quarterback, Redshirt Scout Team. "Tommy works the scout team for the defense. He has a strong arm but needs to work on his fundamentals. We're working on his steps and his fundamentals of throwing. He's a smart kid and he'll get a chance this spring to show what he can do."
Mychal Belcher, Safety. Agreed to sit out of school this fall when the Gamecocks over signed the class. Will enroll in January. "We really like Mychal. We feel indebted to him for stepping aside and letting the other 25 guys come in so we didn't have to make the tough decision on which guy not to bring in. He's been lifting and working out. He would have been redshirted anyway but I think he has a chance to play next year."
Kerry Bonds, Defensive End, Redshirt Scout Team. "Kerry works on the scout team with us. He just needs to get a little bit bigger and stronger. He has good skills and he's doing well. Spring will be an important time for him because we need defensive ends."
Freddie Brown, Wide Receiver, Redshirt Scout Team. "We're trying to get Freddie to move a little quicker. He has wonderful hands and can catch the ball. He needs to work on his quickness, his explosiveness, become a faster player. Once he does those things, I think he has a chance to fit right in and be an excellent receiver."
Jared Cook, Wide Receiver/Tight End, Redshirt Scout Team. "We've talked to Jared about it, he could wind up at tight end. He's sort of a tweener between receiver and tight end. He's 6-5, got excellent hands and is a tough kid. He can block and butt heads with you and do the things tight ends are supposed to do, so there's a chance that he and Jonathan Hannah will be our freshmen tight ends next year."
Brent Davis, Linebacker/Strong Safety, Redshirt Scout Team. "Brent possibly could have played some this year but we decided to hold him out and get him ready for next year. The way he's played he has a chance to play a whole bunch next year."
Mike Davis, Running Back. Has started all six games. Has rushed 49 times for 172 yards and caught four passes for 81 yards. "Mike is coming around. He banged his shoulder up a little bit against Kentucky. He hasn't broken any long runs yet but he's done well for a freshman. Mike is getting better with every snap he takes in a game."
Jonathan Hannah, Tight End. Appeared in the first three games with one catch for 24 yards before suffering an ankle injury. Will apply for medical redhsirt. "He sprained his ankle in practice and we've decided to redshirt him and that's a good thing. He needed this year to get a little stronger, a little quicker, catch the ball better. This redshirt year will be good for him to work on his explosiveness and aggressiveness."
Brandon Isaac, Free Safety, Junior College Transfer. Has seen action in all six games with 23 total tackles, one pass breakup and one fumble recovery. "Brandon has a shoulder that pops out every now and then and he's going to need surgery after the season. He's done well back there but he hasn't made many plays. He did scoop up the fumble and score against Troy. Hopefully he can stumble into some interceptions before the end of the year."
Lemuel Jeanpierre, Defensive End/Defensive Tackle, Redshirt Scout Team. "Lem is going to be an excellent player for us as an end or a tackle. He has a wonderful attitude. He needs to get a little more size but he's a wonderful young man, excellent student and does everything we ask him to do."
Jarriel King, Offensive Line/Defensive End. Did not make his test score originally but is expected to enroll in January. "I'm not sure if Jarriel will be an offensive tackle or a defensive end. We'll look at him at both spots because we can use him at both next year."
Shea McKeen, Defensive End, Redshirt Scout Team. "Shea sprained an ankle about the second week of the season and had a little problem with it, so we're redshirting him. He's another freshman that just needs to get bigger, stronger and faster, but he has ability."
Kenny McKinley, Wide Receiver. Has played in all six games as a receiver and punt returner. Has 10 catches for 118 yards and 10 punt returns for 40 yards. "Kenny has done well for a true freshman. Started at wide receiver in our four-wide look and he's our punt return guy. He has a wonderful attitude and he's another good student. He's done very well."
O.J. Murdock, Wide Receiver, Redshirt Scout Team. "O.J. has done well academically and accepted being redshirted very well. He knew he wasn't ready and he's got some work ahead of him. He needs to get a little stronger, catch the ball a little bit better. With his speed, he won the state 100 and 200 meters down in Florida, he has the skills to be a big-time player."
Nathan Pepper, Defensive Tackle. Has appeared in the last three games. "Nathan is our backup defensive tackle. He shouldn't be playing defensive tackle as a true freshman, but that's where we are right now. We think he's got a promising future as a tackle once he grows into it."
Taylor Rank, Running Back, Redshirt Scout Team. "Taylor is a fast kid, strong kid who is a running back who could play strong safety. He's a good, tough-nosed kid and I'm not sure what his ultimate position will be. He's a good athlete that we feel is going to play somewhere for us."
Marvin Sapp, Linebacker. Has appeared in the last three games and recorded 15 total tackles. "Marvin is playing this year but he's a long way off from being a polished player. He's playing 15-20 snaps a game. He's quick and has a nose for the football, a knack for making a lot of tackles. We think he's going to be an outstanding linebacker in the future."
Gerrod Sinclair, Linebacker/Strong Safety, Redshirt Scout Team. "Gerrod is another outside linebacker strong safety type player. He is doing well and has some skills. He will be ready to compete in the spring for playing time or a starting position and will give it great effort."
Ryan Succop, Kick/Punter. Has been the kickoff man. Is 0-2 on field goal attempts. "In all likelihood, Ryan will be our field goal and extra point kicker, our kickoff guy and punter next year. He could have gone to a lot of big schools but he loves South Carolina and he's the kind of young man we need more of, the kind who could have gone to the Auburns and Tennessees."
Carlos Thomas, Wide Receiver. Has played in all six games. Has nine receptions for 73 yards. Has rushed three times for 53 yards and has returned 13 kickoffs for 302 yards. Has played cornerback on defense and had an interception against Georgia. "Carlos is not ready to play but we kind of forced him out there. He has to learn how to use his speed and play fast. Right now he doesn't do that. He is probably as good a cover guy as we have as a defensive back. We're probably going to let him play more defense the rest of the season and move him back to wide receiver in the spring." (Note: Since this article was published, Syvelle Newton was lost for the season and Travis Lee left school, so Thomas is back at wide receiver.)
Cade Thompson, Quarterback. Redshirt Scout Team. "Cade is 6-3 and he weighs about 175 and he needs to get a little thicker. He's just not physically strong enough to play yet. He's very smart and a natural passer, and he has the frame to gain 10-15 more pounds. There was some talk about playing him some this year, but I'm glad we were able to redshirt him. He needs to be stronger to withstand the hits."
Bobby Wallace, Running Back. Has appeared in all six games and gained 61 yards on 24 carries. Has caught five passes for 29 yards. "In preseason practices guys couldn't catch Bobby and he was fast as a hiccup, but he has been just a hair hesitant at times out there. I think he will work his way out of it. It seems like every time we throw him the screen, they've got three or four guys waiting on him. He hasn't had that many holes but there is a place for him here."
Dakota Walker, Defensive End. Has appeared in three games with two tackles. "Dakota came in here wanting to play this year and he has. His attitude has improved tremendously from a guy who thought he knew how to play to, 'hey, I need to learn how to play.' He is doing well and has a chance to be a big-time defensive end for us. With Josh Johnson gone, he'll get a lot more playing time the rest of the year."
Jeremy Ware, Defensive Back, Redshirt Scout Team. "Jeremy had a shoulder problem in high school so he's on the scout team. He's doing OK. He needs to get stronger, tougher, all those kinds of things, but he has the skills to play corner."
Mike West. Linebacker, Junior College Transfer. Enrolled in January and went through spring practice. Has started all six games and is third on the team in tackles with 34, three for loss, three sacks and one forced fumble. "Mike has done an excellent job for us at a position that is a hybrid between a linebacker and strong safety. Like all junior college players he's had to adjust to the speed of the game and he still needs to play faster, but he has the right attitude and work ethic."
Damien Wright, Linebacker/Strong Safety. Redshirt Scout Team. "Damien is another outside linebacker, strong safety type player. He made a bunch of tackles in high school, so I'm looking forward to watching him in the spring. Right now we don't have 11 guys playing as fast as they can play, but I really believe that Damien is a full-speed guy."
Brandyn Young, Running Back, Redshirt Scout Team. "Right now Brandon is at tailback and we'll give him a shot there in the spring. In our little scrimmages he has looked really good. He's not a very big guy but we're going to see how it goes in the spring."