Young interior lineman impressing early this spring
Greg Adkins once coached in a game where his team was down to their fourth-string center, so this spring his goal is to find a handful of guys the Gamecocks can rely on to snap the ball.
Right now there’s about three or four, Adkins said, with one younger player standing out through the first few weeks of spring practice.
“I like what Vinnie Murphy is doing. I really do. He’s a guy that’s working his tail off. He’s playing center and guard right now,” Adkins said. “I like what he’s doing as a guy no one knows about because he hasn’t played. I like what he’s doing right now if I were to single one guy out that probably none of you have heard much about.”
Murphy, the former three-star prospect, has struggled to see the field his first two seasons at South Carolina playing in just three games with no starts.
Through four practices and weeks of meetings, though, he’s impressed Adkins and is setting a standard of the types of players Adkins and the rest of the staff want to bring to Columbia.
“He just works at the game. He loves football. You have to kick him out of this place. He always wants to talk ball and always wants to watch film,” Adkins said. “It’s important to him. I think the more people we can get overall working like that is what we want. Not just in the O-line. That’s offense, defense and special teams, everybody. The more people we get wanting to work that way, the faster we can continue to move forward.”
With him working at center and guard, he gives depth to the line—especially at the center position—where there is limited depth behind returning starter Eric Douglas.
Hank Manos is the only player on the roster outside of Douglas who has started a game at the center spot.
If Murphy, who’s taken reps at center throughout his entire career at South Carolina, can continue to develop there it gives the Gamecocks another option and guy who can play there in a game.
Adkins’s goal, he said, is to find as many offensive linemen as possible who can snap the ball this spring and into summer workouts.
“You can never have too many,” he said. “We’re really working with three or four right now who can. And we’ll teach another two or three once we move a little further into spring practice, certainly into the summer months and into camp. At the end of the day we’ll have six or seven kids who have the ability to snap the ball.”
In reality, Adkins is only four practices into learning what the Gamecock linemen can do on the field and still has 11 more spring practices, the summer and training camp to formulate a plan.
He’s still working on learning players’ strengths and weaknesses and said the guys who will play are the ones who understand the scheme and play with good technique and physicality.
“There are guys who have played who are not performing like I want them to perform or how they will perform. I have some younger guys who no one knows anything about who’ve performed pretty well,” he said.
“They have to understand the concept—the overall vision and concept of this particular play versus this particular defensive. Whoever can do that with the best technique and most physicality are the people who are going to play, whether they’ve played or not.”