Bowl bits: Swearinger leaves lasting impression

December 30, 2012 

South Carolina Gamecocks safety D.J. Swearinger (36) prays prior to the start of practice at Jefferson High School in Tampa. Swearinger said he prays before every practice and game.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

  • Outback Bowl WHO: USC (10-2) vs. Michigan (8-4) WHEN: 1 p.m., Jan. 1 WHERE: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla. TV: ESPN RADIO: WNKT-FM 107.5 LINE: South Carolina by 6

South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward will miss safety D.J. Swearinger’s production after Tuesday’s game. He will miss his leadership more.

“D.J. probably is the one player I’ve coached that he loves football more than he loves anything,” Ward said. “He studies the game. I tell him all the time he really should put more time in his academics, but he’d rather watch video. There are nights D.J. will text me at 2:30 in the morning because he’s on the iPad looking at plays. That’s the way he is. He’s a student of the game, and we are blessed to have him as part of this program.”

Swearinger, a senior from Greenwood, is second on the team with 70 tackles. He also has two interceptions, five pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. That production allows Swearinger to talk with authority to his teammates.

“If you are a good football player and you speak, then people are going to listen,” Ward said.

BOWL HISTORY

In the 2006 Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Steve Spurrier picked up his first bowl victory as Gamecocks coach. USC pulled away for the 44-36 win against Houston on a pair of 43-yard touchdown passes in the fourth quarter from Blake Mitchell to Kenny McKinley.

Mitchell earned game MVP honors by passing for 323 yards and four touchdowns. Tailback Cory Boyd added 94 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

The Gamecocks finished Spurrier’s second season at 8-5.

MONDAY’S SCHEDULE

9 — News conference for Steve Spurrier

4:45 p.m. — USC team walk-through at Raymond James Stadium

5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. — Parade and Band Blast, with a pep rally in the Ybor City historic district

QUOTE-UNQUOTE

“It kind of made us come closer as a team because Marcus was like a brother to us. We knew that him going down, he wouldn’t want us to shut down. He’d want us to keep playing and fighting. We kind of came together as a team. It just shows the team has character and that we have a bunch of men on the team and not little boys that will sulk.” - USC receiver Ace Sanders on bouncing back from Marcus Lattimore’s injury

Compiled by Josh Kendall and Neil White

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Lorenzo Ward

Bowl preview

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