SEC: Connor Mitch

SEC lunchtime links

August, 7, 2014
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It’s still the first week of fall camp, and we’re still getting a look at the fresh faces in the SEC. How is Jacob Coker spinning it? Where is Leonard Fournette on the depth chart? ESPN’s Travis Haney has Coker and Fournette as his top two breakout players for 2014, a list that includes 18 players total from the SEC.

For more news and notes around the conference, check out Thursday’s lunch links.
  • Alabama is still tinkering as it seeks the “five best guys” to start on the offensive line.
  • With Nick Marshall missing the start against Arkansas in the season opener, it’s time for Auburn to name the starter and give the ball to Jeremy Johnson.
  • As he enters his sophomore season, Florida running back Kelvin Taylor has gained a step or two, improving his speed in the offseason.
  • The typically transparent Mark Richt has taken a vow of silence this fall when it comes to Georgia’s injury report.
  • Kentucky coach Mark Stoops was not pleased after practice on Wednesday. What he saw was “not good enough” as his team lacked the mentality he’s looking for.
  • Speed and experience make linebackers Kwon Alexander and Deion Jones key parts of a revitalized LSU defense.
  • Mississippi State wide receivers Jameon Lewis and De’Runnya Wilson are rooting for each other this season despite competing for targets.
  • Despite the Toronto Blue Jays’ best efforts, Ole Miss safety Anthony Alford is not ready to give up football, his first love.
  • Dylan Thompson is the starting quarterback for South Carolina, but who’s No. 2? Redshirt freshman Connor Mitch is in the lead ... for now.
  • New mantra has Tennessee wide receiver Josh Smith “starting strong” this fall after a knee injury derailed his freshman year.

South Carolina spring wrap

April, 30, 2014
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Three things we learned in the spring about the South Carolina Gamecocks:

1. Offense is deep: As long as fifth-year senior quarterback Dylan Thompson stays healthy, South Carolina shouldn’t have many issues on offense. The backfield is deep and talented with Mike Davis leading the way. The offensive line is loaded with future NFL players. Although Bruce Ellington turned pro, the receiving corps features plenty of explosive options. With Steve Spurrier at the controls, it should be an entertaining year to watch the Gamecocks move the ball in a wide variety of ways.

2. Linebacker will be a strength: South Carolina’s defense certainly has some holes to fill, but the linebackers are a proven commodity. Three of the Gamecocks’ top-five tacklers return in Skai Moore, Kaiwan Lewis and Marcquis Roberts. It's a deep group of playmakers who could carry the defense while some new faces finds their way early in the season.

3. Defense has a lot to prove: Losing one of the best defensive talents ever to don garnet and black, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, will obviously be a blow. Same with defensive linemen Kelcy Quarles and Chaz Sutton and cornerbacks Victor Hampton and Jimmy Legree. Those guys were the rocks of a solid South Carolina defense last season, and their absences were evident in the spring game when the defenses surrendered 6.5 yards per play and 16.8 yards per completion. The cupboard isn’t bare, but the Gamecocks still must fill a lot of holes.

Three questions for the fall:

1. Who takes over at cornerback? This seems to be the most likely position where a freshman might earn immediate playing time. The Gamecocks added a slew of talented cornerbacks -- including three of their four highest-rated signees in ESPN’s rankings, Chris Lammons, D.J. Smith and Wesley Green -- and struggled a bit at the position during the spring without Hampton and Legree. Safety Brison Williams and Rico McWilliams started at corner in the spring game, and Jamari Smith might be another name to watch. But it’s clear that nothing is settled at the position as of now.

2. Who backs up Thompson? Spring practice proved that Thompson is head and shoulders above the competition at quarterback. But who steps in if the senior suffers an injury? Connor Mitch is one option. Brendan Nosovitch and Perry Orth are others. Not yet on campus is a fourth option, signee Michael Scarnecchia. Thompson has already played a lot while sharing time with the departed Connor Shaw, but the reserves are a completely unproven bunch.

3. Might this be the SEC’s best backfield? The star power at Alabama and Georgia attracts more attention, but the talent in South Carolina’s backfield is nothing to sneeze at. Davis proved himself as a tough runner and home run threat last season, rushing for 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns before fading late because of injury issues. In Brandon Wilds and Shon Carson, the Gamecocks have another two SEC-caliber backs, and the Gamecocks’ coaches seem excited about adding redshirt freshman David Williams to the mix. The depth here is excellent, and the backs will be running behind a stout offensive line. That should make for a highly productive running game in the fall.

One way-too-early prediction:

This is the golden age of South Carolina football, and Spurrier will add another impressive chapter this season. Namely, the Gamecocks’ streak of three straight seasons with at least 11 wins will grow to four. Although Lorenzo Ward’s defense has a lot to prove, the offense should be good enough to help the D hit its stride like it did as last season progressed. Plenty of preseason publications will name South Carolina as the favorite to win the SEC East, and that’s for good reason. Spurrier’s staff has built one of the league’s most consistent programs, and it should once again rank among the top contenders this season.

5 burning questions: Replacing QBs

February, 24, 2014
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Over the span of their careers they threw for 48,824 passing yards. There were a total 403 touchdown passes among them, and they won 184 games in which they appeared, including 11 bowls and two national championships. They were, arguably, the most talented and productive class of quarterbacks ever to play in the SEC at one time. And now they’re all gone.

[+] EnlargeDylan Thompson
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesDylan Thompson saw a lot of playing time last season when Connor Shaw went out.
The SEC had to say goodbye to James Franklin, Johnny Manziel, AJ McCarron, Zach Mettenberger, Aaron Murray and Connor Shaw in January. The void they leave behind is enormous, and while some programs already have an idea of who will take their place next season, not all are so lucky.

We’re counting down the five most pressing questions facing the SEC this spring, in no particular order of importance. First, how do you replace all the veteran quarterbacks the league enjoyed in 2013?

When spring camps open over the next few weeks -- the first being Texas A&M on Friday -- that question will begin to be answered. With each snap and each team meeting, leaders will emerge. Some staffs will look for a winner heading into the summer so they can avoid a quarterback controversy come fall, while others will have to sweat it out through the offseason.

Texas A&M: Surprises will undoubtedly occur, as we saw only a few years ago when a scrappy freshman from Kerrville, Texas, beat out the presumptive favorite to land the starting job at Texas A&M. The Aggies stumbled upon Manziel, and Jameill Showers was quickly forgotten. Kenny Hill and Matt Joeckel are this year’s frontrunners, but they’ll have competition in another freshman nipping at their heels in Kyle Allen. The Arizona native is more of a pure passer than a running quarterback, but he has the tools to sling the ball around in Kevin Sumlin’s offense.

South Carolina: Steve Spurrier didn’t mince words when he saidDylan Thompson is “without question going to be our quarterback.” He even asked, “Why open it up when he’s the only one who’s played?” Thompson, a rising senior, doesn’t have the athleticism to break containment quite like Shaw, but Thompson can still move the chains with his feet when necessary. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound South Carolina native doesn’t lack for arm strength and might even have more pure throwing ability than Shaw. But where Thompson must match Shaw is intangibles. There wasn’t a more dynamic leader in the SEC than Shaw last year, and the Gamecocks will miss that kind of will power under center in 2014. While the starting job is Thompson’s to lose, don’t sleep on redshirt freshman Connor Mitch. The former four-star recruit could push Thompson this spring.

Missouri: The race to replace Franklin comes down to one quarterback and one quarterback alone: Maty Mauk. The rising redshirt sophomore showed last season that he can control the offense, starting four games in which he averaged 227.5 yards, 2.5 touchdowns and 0.5 interceptions per game. More importantly, he won three of the four games with the only loss coming in double overtime against South Carolina. He’ll learn from that experience and take over a team that will be moving on from the loss of big-time playmakers Henry Josey, L'Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas. Having the ultra-talented Dorial Green-Beckham back will help, but an arrest on drug charges in January has clouded his future.

[+] EnlargeDavid Cornwell
Courtesy of Cornwell familyEarly enrollee and former four-star recruit David Cornwell will get his shot at Alabama's starting QB job this spring.
LSU: The Tigers faithful got a sneak peek at their next quarterback, Anthony Jennings, after Mettenberger tore his ACL and was forced to miss LSU’s bowl game. The rising sophomore didn’t drop anyone’s jaw against Iowa, but he did just enough, throwing for 82 yards on 7 of 19 passing, while letting his supporting cast do the heavy lifting. At 6-2 and 205 pounds, Jennings has the look of a starting quarterback in the SEC. The former four-star recruit played sparingly in 2013, though, attempting just 10 passes prior to the Outback Bowl. He’ll have to contend with Brandon Harris, ESPN’s No. 37 overall prospect and No. 2 dual-threat passer in the 2014 class, along with rising senior Rob Bolden and rising sophomore Hayden Rettig.

Georgia: Despite what wasn’t a great performance to end last season -- 21-of-39 for 320 yards, a touchdown and an interception against Nebraska -- Hutson Mason is still the overwhelming favorite to replace Murray. Why? Because Mark Richt and the coaching staff have essentially been grooming Mason to take over for years now, redshirting him in 2012 so he would have a year left to play in 2014. Mason was once a three-star quarterback who put up huge numbers running the spread at Lassiter High School in nearby Marietta, and with Todd Gurley behind him, he won’t be asked to do too much his first year starting. While he might be a year away, don’t write off Faton Bauta just yet. The 6-3, 216-pound redshirt sophomore has impressed the staff with his work ethic and could find his way into some playing time.

Alabama: Oddly enough, the quarterback many presume will take over for McCarron won’t actually arrive until the summer. Jacob Coker, the heralded transfer from Florida State, will be a little late finishing his degree in Tallahassee, which leaves a big opportunity for the rest of Alabama’s quarterbacks to make a first impression. New offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin will instead have his focus on Blake Sims, Alec Morris, Parker McLeod and Cooper Bateman this spring. Sims, who best fits the mold of a run-first quarterback, has a lot of work ahead of him to prove he can play from the pocket. Morris, meanwhile, didn’t get much time as a redshirt freshman last season and needs to improve his decision-making from the last time we saw him at A-Day. Bateman and McLeod are relative unknowns after redshirting last season, but Bateman, a four-star recruit, does come with a lofty pedigree. The wild card is David Cornwell, the four-star recruit who enrolled in January and will benefit from the fresh start all of the quarterbacks will get under Kiffin.

Offseason spotlight: South Carolina

February, 13, 2014
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Connor Shaw's replacement now has to deal with being the guy in Columbia:

Spotlight: Quarterback Dylan Thompson, 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, senior

2013 summary: Serving as Shaw's backup last season, Thompson threw for 783 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions on 52-of-89 passing. He started the win at Missouri in 2013, but was replaced by Shaw in the fourth quarter. Thompson also netted 27 rushing yards and had three more scores on the ground.

The skinny: Now that the titanium-built Shaw is gone, Thompson is officially the guy at quarterback. He has started three games in his career (3-0) and performed very well when replacing Shaw because of injuries. While he didn't look as sharp in 2013 as he did in 2012, Thompson has the arm strength and accuracy to be a quality starting quarterback in the SEC. Fans have gone back and forth in the past about who would better lead the Gamecocks, and now they'll get to see just what Thompson can do when coach Steve Spurrier gives him the keys to the Gamecocks' offense full time. Thompson might be a better pure passer than Shaw, but does he have the intangibles that made Shaw such a special player? Can he take the hits that Shaw took and still be able to play? Can he overcome pain and lead the Gamecocks to wins in the process? Thompson certainly doesn't have to be Shaw, and one thing that will prevent him from having to prove if he can run through walls like Shaw did is that he doesn't run the ball a lot. Thompson ran the ball just 50 times in the past two seasons compared to the 285 times Shaw ran. What he has to show is that he can consistently lead the team. In his two starts in 2012, he threw for more than 300 yards and had three touchdowns. He also threw for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the bowl win over Michigan, including the 32-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to Bruce Ellington with 11 seconds remaining. He finished that season with 1,027 yards and 10 touchdowns with two interceptions. With redshirt freshman Connor Mitch around, Thompson will likely have some nice competition for the starting job. It worked out perfectly for the Gamecocks and Thompson in the past, and we all know that Spurrier won't hesitate to rotate his quarterbacks in and out.

Past spotlights:
Spring practice concludes in the SEC this weekend with Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri and Tennessee all holding their spring games.

Who were those new faces on campus who made the biggest splashes this spring, transfers and early enrollee true freshmen?

We’ve come up with 10 in the Eastern Division, and will unveil 10 more in the West later today.

Here's a look at the East:

Reggie Carter, LB, Georgia: Carter tore his ACL his junior year of high school, so he wasn’t that highly rated. But the early enrollee made quite an impression at inside linebacker this spring and will push junior Ramik Wilson for playing time.

Riyahd Jones, CB, Tennessee: The Vols needed all the help they could get in the secondary, and Jones came in from junior college and was the second-best cornerback on the team this spring behind Justin Coleman.

Tray Matthews, S, Georgia: One of the stars of the spring for the Bulldogs, Matthews certainly didn’t play like a true freshman. If the season were to start today, he would be the starter at free safety. He’s a big-time hitter and is exactly what defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is looking for in terms of being an enforcer at the safety position.

Connor Mitch, QB, South Carolina: Steve Spurrier has liked what he’s seen from Mitch. The true freshman got plenty of reps this spring after enrolling early and can really throw the football. He’s not going to unseat veterans Connor Shaw or Dylan Thompson, but looks like he’s the Gamecocks’ quarterback of the future.

Tyler Moore, OT, Florida: The transfer from Nebraska took a big step this spring toward winning the starting right tackle job. Moore started his first four games at Nebraska in 2011 as a true freshman, but spent last season at St. Petersburg Community College.

Chris Mayes, NG, Georgia: By the end of spring practice, the 330-pound Mayes had established himself as the Bulldogs’ second-team nose guard. The junior college newcomer will be a key part of what will be a deeper rotation on Georgia’s defensive line next season.

Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida: He hurt his ankle and missed some practice time, but made a spectacular diving catch in the spring game, the kind we haven't seen Florida receivers make in a while. Robinson’s only a true freshman, but he is the most talented receiver on campus.

Za’Darius Smith, DE, Kentucky: He picked up quickly after coming over from junior college, and the Wildcats liked what they saw this spring with Smith and Alvin “Bud” Dupree manning the two end positions. Smith's best football is ahead of him. He didn't start playing until he was a senior in high school.

Corey Vereen, OLB, Tennessee: Even though he’s only a true freshman, Vereen showed enough this spring that the Vols think he can help them rushing the passer. He’s not big enough to be an every-down end, but could line up in a hybrid role on passing downs.

Reggie Wilkerson, CB, Georgia: After Sheldon Dawson was injured, Wilkerson moved to the top of the depth chart and started in the spring game. The Bulldogs are thin at cornerback, so the opportunity is there for a true freshman to play in the fall.
Now that Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery are both pointing toward NFL careers, LSU needs to find some more pass-rushers.

Junior Jermauria Rasco has been waiting his turn, and he showed Thursday during the Tigers’ second scrimmage of the spring that he has everything it takes to be a force off the edge. Rasco led the defense with three sacks in his best outing of the spring.

Two of his sacks came during the two-minute drill against the No. 1 offense. His final sack came in a fourth-and-long situation, and would have sealed the deal had it been a real game.

“Rasco had a nice day. He continues to improve with practice,” said LSU coach Les Miles, adding that safety Craig Loston also had a big scrimmage.

Offensively, Miles was disappointed with some of the sloppy mistakes, in particular bobbled snaps, penalties and cadence issues. The Tigers are breaking in a new center. Junior Elliott Porter and freshman Ethan Pocic are getting most of the snaps at center, but senior Josh Williford is also working some there.

“I can tell you this, in the next six practices, we’ll get a lot of center-quarterback exchanges,” said Miles, who said the burden fell on both the centers and quarterbacks.

Senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger again had solid passing numbers in the closed scrimmage. He finished 21-of-35 for 247 yards, a touchdown and an interception. LSU’s newest running back, Terrence Magee, had his second straight impressive scrimmage with 76 yards on seven carries, including an 11-yard touchdown run.

The Tigers like Magee’s speed. He played sparingly at receiver last season, but has shown this spring that he’s very comfortable catching the ball out of the backfield and gives them a speed option that will be important in Cam Cameron’s offense.

For more on LSU’s scrimmage, read here and here. The Tigers will be off next week for spring break. Their spring game is scheduled for April 20.

SOUTH CAROLINA

The Gamecocks ended their practice Thursday with a scrimmage that focused primarily on the younger players.

Freshman quarterback Connor Mitch was 9-of-11 for 78 yards and threw the game's only touchdown, a 5-yard pass to Shamier Jeffery -- the younger brother of former South Carolina star receiver Alshon Jeffery.

Coach Steve Spurrier wasn't thrilled with the way his offensive line played, and in vintage Spurrier fashion, delivered a few zingers. He got tired of seeing the defensive front-seven spending much of the scrimmage in the offensive backfield, although the Gamecocks' defensive line should be a load for anybody to block next season.

"The offensive line has got to learn how to block," Spurrier said. "They're pretty good at everything except blocking. Unfortunately, that's all we ask them to do. So, if we can block a little better, we'll be in good shape."

The Gamecocks' running game was limited to 36 yards on 20 carries. The top two running backs, Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds, only combined for five carries. Spurrier challenged right tackle Brandon Shell to take his game to another level next season. Shell started nine games last season as a redshirt fresman and earned Freshman All-America honors.

The South Carolina staff likes the progress sophomore receiver Shaq Roland has shown this spring. He caught three passes for 40 yards Thursday, and is getting better fundamentally after sort of being lost last season as a true freshman.

Defensively, coordinator Lorenzo Ward liked the way his guys ran to the ball and said he would again use his "Rabbits" package next season with ends Jadeveon Clowney and Chaz Sutton sliding inside on passing downs. Redshirt freshman Darius English and sophomore Mason Harris have worked as the ends in the "Rabbits" set, and Ward said Thursday that Harris looks quicker and faster than he did a year ago.

For more on South Carolina's scrimmage, read here and here.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier liked what he saw from his quarterbacks in the Gamecocks’ first practice of the spring on Tuesday.

Of course, one of the main guys wasn’t out there. Senior Connor Shaw, who started all but two games last season, is still recovering from offseason foot surgery.

Junior Dylan Thompson is working with the first team this spring, although that’s nothing new for him. He led the Gamecocks to a 27-17 win over Clemson last season with 310 yards passing and three touchdowns and also threw the game-winning touchdown pass against Michigan in the bowl game after filling in for the injured Shaw.

Spurrier praised all of his quarterbacks Tuesday, including the three newcomers -- true freshman Connor Mitch, redshirt freshman Brendan Nosovitch and redshirt freshman walk-on Perry Orth.

"It's neat when you've got players who love playing football and love practicing and love trying to learn all they can about their position," Spurrier said. "That's what we've got here with all these quarterbacks."

Everybody always wants to know who the starting quarterback is going to be, and that's a question that will linger at South Carolina on into preseason camp.

If Shaw comes back healthy, my sense is that he will keep the starting job. He's been a warrior for the Gamecocks and has a toughness and confidence about him that's infectious.

But anybody who knows Spurrier knows he's not the least bit bothered by playing two quarterbacks, and he told me a few weeks ago that's what he thinks will probably happen in 2013. Not only does he think he can win with both Shaw and Thompson, but they're two different types of quarterbacks and complement each other well.

"I really think both of them deserve to play," Spurrier said. "I know you can’t just say, ‘Well, we’re going to play both quarterbacks this game.’ But it worked out in the bowl game. Dylan is going to play. He helped us beat Clemson, and Connor was healthy for the bowl game and re-hurt his foot. They both played well in that game and had a lot of good plays.

"They’re both very unselfish young men. It could easily be that they both play throughout the year some way or the other."

In other words, the Head Ball Coach isn't hung up on who takes the first snap against North Carolina on Aug. 29. What he is hung up on is who plays the best, and here's betting that both Shaw and Thompson once again play well enough next season to contribute to key wins.

Recruiting rank doesn't faze Spurrier

February, 6, 2013
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Steve Spurrier’s not one to sweat a whole lot.

That’s whether he’s standing over a 10-foot birdie putt while playing golf with buddies in the offseason or watching from the sideline with South Carolina facing a crucial fourth-and-goal in the final minutes of a game.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise then that Spurrier isn’t sweating that seven SEC teams finished ahead of South Carolina in the latest ESPN recruiting rankings Insider.

The Gamecocks checked in at No. 17 nationally this year. That’s after finishing No. 16 a year ago, No. 15 in 2011 and No. 23 in 2010.

On the field, though, they’ve fared much better, and that’s all that matters to the Head Ball Coach.

[+] EnlargeSteve Spurrier
Joshua S. Kelly/USA TODAY SportsSteve Spurrier isn't too worried that South Carolina's recruiting class isn't tops in the SEC.
“It’s important to recruit well, but it’s not the only thing,” said Spurrier, who’s guided the Gamecocks to back-to-back top-10 finishes in the final polls.

“I tell people all the time that we’re never going to out-recruit Alabama, LSU, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and a lot of those schools, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to always beat us. Shoot, we’ve been beating them more than they’ve been beating us lately.

“So, yeah, it’s important, but it’s what they do after they get here that counts.”

Going back to the 2010 season, South Carolina is a combined 9-2 against Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee -- the teams the Gamecocks are “never going to out-recruit.” And if you throw in-state rival Clemson into that mix, the Gamecocks are 12-2.

Not only that, but South Carolina is one of only two SEC teams (along with Alabama) to have won 11 or more games each of the past two seasons.

Such unprecedented success at South Carolina has also helped to open up the checkbooks of donors, leading to much-needed facility upgrades.

“We’ve been fortunate to get the facilities up to speed,” Spurrier said. “Some of our boosters with big money have contributed very well. I think before I got here, they’d had one person give over a million bucks (to athletics) and now we’ve got about 10. So we’ve added about eight or nine since I got here.

“Every school has millionaires out there with lots of money. But when you start winning, fundraising becomes a lot easier.”

Already South Carolina’s all-time winningest coach, Spurrier will turn 68 in April. But in his mind, his business at South Carolina won’t be finished until the Gamecocks add some SEC hardware to their trophy case.

“Hopefully, the next step is an SEC championship. It’s as simple as that,” said Spurrier, who won six SEC titles at Florida. “The first thing we’ve got to do is get back to the game. We beat Georgia every year and then lose two, and they don’t lose again.

“But we hope to win an SEC (title). That hasn’t changed.”

Right now, everybody in the SEC is chasing Alabama, which has won three of the past four national championships.

But Spurrier said the gap’s not so wide that the Crimson Tide are poised to run off and leave everybody.

“No, they can be beat,” Spurrier said. “LSU had them beat this year. A&M managed to get them, and Georgia had a shot at them. Now, talent-wise, they’re way ahead of everybody. Gosh, they’ve got what … five first-round picks projected. We don’t have any projected and we went 11-2.

“Some days, you just have to play better than the other guy. If you play better than him, you can win.”

Spurrier points to South Carolina’s 35-21 victory over then No. 1-ranked Alabama in 2010 as proof.

“We had basically eight possessions and scored five touchdowns,” Spurrier said. “That’s what you call playing well. I don’t know if they’ve given up 35 points since.”

He’s right. They’ve haven’t. In fact, they’ve given up more than 20 points only four times to FBS foes since losing to the Gamecocks in 2010.

Still, Spurrier knows that everything will need to fall just right for the Gamecocks to win their first-ever SEC title.

They’re losing a lot of firepower on offense, but he’s excited about the overall strength of this signing class. Spurrier said he felt like ESPN 300 quarterback signee Connor Mitch, who’s already enrolled, was one of the best quarterback prospects in the Southeast.

In addition, running back David Williams of Philadelphia was ranked by ESPN as the No. 13 running back prospect nationally, and the Gamecocks also stocked up in the offensive line and at linebacker.

“It’s hard to say how far away we are (from winning an SEC title), but we’re going to keep pushing and see if we can get there,” Spurrier said.

It’s the reason he took the South Carolina job in the first place.

He revels in doing what everybody else says can’t be done.

Gamecocks announce 2013 signing class

February, 6, 2013
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South Carolina has announced its 2013 signing class.

The Gamecocks had most of their class wrapped up early and were only waiting on a handful of players. Linebacker Skai Moore of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., revealed his decision Wednesday morning and picked South Carolina over Rutgers and Vanderbilt. Linebacker Jonathan Walton of Daphne, Ala., also publicly announced Wednesday morning and picked South Carolina over Auburn. Walton was originally committed to Penn State, but decommitted last month.

South Carolina signed 21 players in this class, including three early enrollees. One of those is ESPN 300 quarterback Connor Mitch of Raleigh, N.C. The Gamecocks signed four ESPN 300 members and 11 four-star prospects. Their highest ranked signee is defensive tackle Kelsey Griffin of Hoschton, Ga. Griffin is No. 100 on the ESPN 300 and ranked as the No. 10 defensive tackle in the country.

South Carolina currently ranks No. 17 in ESPN's class rankings.

Here's a complete list of South Carolina's 2013 class.

SEC recruiting scorecard

January, 30, 2013
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National signing day is just around the corner (Feb. 6), and with things really, really heating up on the recruiting trail, we thought we'd take a look at how all 14 SEC teams are doing when it comes to finding the next college stars.

The SEC currently has five teams ranked in the top 10 of ESPN's RecruitingNation class rankings and 12 in the top 40. Florida, which has 26 commitments, including 11 in the ESPN 150, owns the nation's No. 1 class. Alabama is second with 22 pledges (10 ESPN 150 members).

Here's how the entire SEC is doing with only a week left until pens are put to paper:

ALABAMA

2013 verbal commitments: 22

Spotlight: Yulee, Fla., athlete Derrick Henry is big, physical and very athletic. Plus, he's already on campus. He's versatile and could play multiple positions at the college level. After breaking the national high school career rushing yards record, he'll probably spend most of his time in Alabama's backfield.

ESPN 150 members: 10 (Henry; WR Robert Foster of Monaca, Pa.; DE Jonathan Allen of Ashburn, Va.; DE Tim Williams of Baton Rouge, La.; TE-H O.J. Howard of Prattville, Ala.; RB Altee Tenpenny of North Little Rock, Ark.; QB-PP Cooper Bateman of Salt Lake City, Utah; RB Tyren Jones of Marietta, Ga.; CB Maurice Smith of Sugar Land, Texas; OG Grant Hill of Huntsville, Ala.)

ARKANSAS

2013 verbal commitments: 17

Spotlight: Tight end Hunter Henry of Little Rock, Ark., is the gem of this class after being very active on the offensive side in high school. He isn't the greatest blocker, but he creates mismatches over the middle of the field with his size and speed. There was some concern that he might go elsewhere, but Bret Bielema and his staff secured his commitment earlier this month.

ESPN 150 members: 1 (Henry)

AUBURN

2013 verbal commitments: 19

Spotlight: Defensive end Carl Lawson of Alpharetta, Ga., is the headliner of this class, but he's looking around a bit at other schools. Clemson and Tennessee are still in the race for Lawson's services. He'd be a major get/loss for Gus Malzahn's first class. He current ranks as the No. 2 defensive end in the country and is the No. 2 overall prospect in the country.

ESPN 150 members: 3 (Lawson; DE Tashawn Bower of Somerville, N.J.; QB Jeremy Johnson of Montomgery, Ala.)

FLORIDA

2013 verbal commitments: 26

Spotlight: Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III of Tampa, Fla., is rated the No. 1 cornerback prospect in the country and is the No. 3 overall player in the nation. He's one of the more complete players out there and it looks like he'll be able to play right away for the Gators when he arrives in Gainesville.

ESPN 150 members: 11 (Hargreaves; Caleb Brantley of Crescent City, Fla.; RB Kelvin Taylor of Belle Glade, Fla.; OLB Daniel McMillian of Jacksonville, Fla.; WR Ahmad Fulwood of Jacksonville, Fla.; WR Demarcus Robinson of Fort Valley, Ga.; S Keanu Neal of Bushnell, Fla.; S Marcell Harris of Orlando, Fla.; ATH Alvin Bailey of Seffner, Fla.; OLB Matt Rolin of Ashburn, Va.; LB Alex Anzalone of Wyomissing, Pa.)

GEORGIA

2013 verbal commitments: 29

Spotlight: Cornerback Shaq Wiggins of Tyrone, Ga., is a top corner prospect, despite his smaller frame. He might not have elite size, but Wiggins plays like a bigger, more physical defensive back. He can cover a lot of ground and has a chance to make an instant impact for the Bulldogs' defense in 2013.

ESPN 150 members: 5 (Wiggins; ATH Tramel Terry of Goose Creek, S.C.; QB-PP Brice Ramsey of Kingsland, Ga.; S Tray Matthews of Newnan, Ga.; C Brandon Kublanow of Marietta, Ga.)

KENTUCKY

2013 verbal commitments: 18

Spotlight: Junior college defensive end Za'Darius Smith from East Mississippi Community College is Kentucky's top get for the 2013 class, and what's even better is that he's already on campus. He excels as both a pass-rusher and a run-stopper and has shown good speed along the way. His speed off the edge will be a welcomed addition to Kentucky's defense.

ESPN 150 members: None

LSU

2013 verbal commitments: 27

Spotlight: Athlete Kendell Beckwith of Jackson, La., was a major addition to LSU's class early this month. He was mostly a dual-threat quarterback in high school, but could play both wide receiver and outside linebacker at the college level. His speed and mobility will help him get on the field early to help the Tigers.

ESPN 150 members: 6 (Beckwith; Jeryl Brazil of Loranger, La.; OT Ethan Pocic of Lemont, Ill; DT Greg Gilmore of Hope Mills, N.C.; TE-H DeSean Smith of Lake Charles, La.; DT Maquedius Bain of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

MISSISSIPPI STATE

2013 verbal commitments: 22

Spotlight: Defensive end Chris Jones of Houston, Miss., could develop into a trouble-making pass-rusher. He has good size and quickness and flew off the line during his senior year. He continues to get a lot of attention from other schools, especially Alabama, so keeping him will be a tough chore for Dan Mullen and his staff.

ESPN 150 members: 1 (Jones)

MISSOURI

2013 verbal commitments: 19

Spotlight: DT Josh Augusta of Peoria, Ill., is Mizzou's top-rated commitment right now. He was a big January get for the Tigers' staff and is a major athlete who played multiple positions at the high school level. He could play along the defensive line or offensive line in college. He played some tight end in high school, but doesn't project there at the next level.

ESPN 150 members: None

OLE MISS

2013 verbal commitments: 23

Spotlight: Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell of Crete, Ill., was a major pickup for the Rebels' staff. He's rated as the nation's No. 1 receiver and while he might be a taller prospect, he's very explosive. He has the ability to be a big-time deep threat for the Rebels and should also make plenty of plays after the catch.

ESPN 150 members: 2 (Treadwell; DE Elijah Daniel of Avon, Ind.)

SOUTH CAROLINA

2013 verbal commitments: 19

Spotlight: Defensive tackle Kelsey Griffin of Hoschton, Ga., is a big-bodied lineman who should be a solid run-stopper with his girth and explosion. He doesn't have great height, but he has a big enough body that he should cause plenty of problems for opposing linemen at the next level.

ESPN 150 members: 2 (Griffin; RB David Williams of Philadelphia, Pa.)

TENNESSEE

2013 verbal commitments: 17

Spotlight: Quarterback Riley Ferguson of Matthews, N.C., has a big-time arm and shows pretty good mobility in the pocket. He also has a lot of confidence in his arm and his throws. The coaching turnover didn't hurt Tennessee's chances of keeping Ferguson, who could push for time once he gets on campus.

ESPN 150 members: None

TEXAS A&M

2013 verbal commitments: 32

Spotlight: Tight end Derrick Griffin of Rosenberg, Texas, should cause major matchup issues for his opponents when he gets to the college level. He's the nation's top tight end/H-back and could be used all over the field by Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies' staff. He's versatile enough to be a major asset for A&M in the near future.

ESPN 150 members: 6 (Griffin; ATH Ricky Seals-Jones of Sealy, Texas; ATH LaQuvionte Gonzalez of Cedar Hill, Texas; QB Kohl Stewart of Houston, Texas; DT Justin Manning of Dallas; WR Sebastian LaRue of Santa Monica, Calif.)

VANDERBILT

2013 verbal commitments: 24

Spotlight: Defensive tackle Jay Woods of Jackson, Ga., is a powerful body up front, who will be even better at the next level once he adds some bulk. He has good speed off the line and can clog holes up front. He'll be used as a run-stopper and can get to the quarterback when needed.

ESPN 150 members: None

Lunchtime links

July, 10, 2012
7/10/12
12:30
PM ET
Getting some links in before the storm clouds come through Atlanta ...

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