South Carolina welcomed back a familiar face to wide receiver Tuesday when Bruce Ellington returned to the football practice field.
Earlier this month, Ellington announced that he was picking basketball over football, but shortly after the whispers began about him possibly returning to football after men's basketball coach Darrin Horn was fired.
Tuesday, Ellington worked out with the Gamecocks' football team for the first time this spring. Coincidentally, it was the same day in which Frank Martin was introduced as South Carolina's new men's basketball coach.
Coach Steve Spurrier had some very kinds words to say about Franklin:
"I like Coach Frank Martin. I think his track record speaks for itself. The guy has only been a head coach for five years in college, but Frank Martin, in my opinion, knows how to coach ball. He’d be a heck of a football coach, too. I think our basketball program is in excellent hands. Like he said, we’re going to pack Colonial [Life] Arena. I believe him. I believe there will be 18,000 cheering the Gamecocks."
Ellington plans to continue being a two-sport athlete at South Carolina and Spurrier said Tuesday that he was "one of the fastest guys out there" at practice.
Having Ellington back certainly brings some needed experience back to the receiver position. Ellington made his mark as more of an all-purpose guy, but he'll be called on more to catch the ball this fall with Alshon Jeffery gone.
Kicker to the rescue
Vanderbilt's kicking issues from last season are well documented, but Tuesday, it was a kicker who saved the Commodores from extra, uncomfortable running after practice.
To close Tuesday's practice, coach James Franklin gave his kickers eight field goal attempts. Each kick was to be performed while Franklin messed with the kicker and "whispered sweet nothings" into his ears. For every miss the team had one gasser (a football player's nightmare). Vandy's kickers missed four, meaning four gassers for the team.
But Franklin decided to up the ante with a double or nothing call -- one kick to erase the gassers or force eight on his players. The team was supposed to choose a kicker it was confident in, but Carey Spear jumped right up and volunteered.
"Cary's one of the more competitive guys that we got," Franklin said.
"He's a very, very competitive, tough guy."
Cary stepped up and nailed a 40-yard kick to save his team from eight painful gassers.
"It was a pretty good risk that they were taking and they believed in him, so it was good," Franklin said.
Freeze unhappy with effort
Ole Miss dressed in pads for the second time this spring, but new coach Hugh Freeze wasn't too thrilled with the effort his players showed Tuesday.
“[I was] disappointed,” Freeze said. “I didn’t think the attitude was bad, but I thought the effort was half-hearted. I thought we coasted through a lot of practice. We’re asking a lot of them to lift [weights] and practice, sometimes on the same days. And of course, academics are a priority. We’ll point [the lack of effort] out on film [Wednesday], and we’ll stop practice on Thursday if we have to in order to get it right. We won’t go through two days of that in a row.”
As Freeze looks to install a new, more spread offense at Ole Miss, he's finding that one of the key components needs to improve more as the spring continues. That component is the running game, which isn't just essential to the spread, but is essential to having a successful offense in the SEC.
“There were some good plays, though. In the team run, we broke a few long ones," Freeze said.
"But we’re still very inconsistent.”