Spurrier: 'Not too blindsided' by Sanders' decision

pobley@thestate.comJanuary 19, 2013 

Frank Martin gave away “Garnet Army” shirts and food. The school gave away posters to commemorate the “Best Football Team in Gamecock History.”

The end result was a crowd of 11,175 for Saturday’s men’s basketball game at Colonial Life Arena.

But there were as many people at the game for a halftime ceremony as for the Gamecocks’ game against Vanderbilt.

With a large class of commitments and other recruits in attendance, USC head coach Steve Spurrier brought members of the football team to center court to celebrate the “state” championship and the Outback Bowl victories.

“There are several future Gamecocks in the crowd tonight,” Spurrier said. “And hopefully in the next few years we’re going to have a SEC championship down here, too.”

Later, Spurrier talked about one Gamecock who won’t be around in 2013. Ace Sanders declared this past week for the NFL draft and was officially approved by the NFL on Saturday.

“We’re not too blindsided,” Spurrier said. “Ace had an exceptional game at the Outback Bowl. He just felt it was time and he was as hot as he is going to be.”

Spurrier added Sanders’ departure makes room for the Gamecocks’ younger receivers to step up, singling out Shaq Roland, Kwinton Smith and Shamier Jeffery.

“That’s just more balls those guys are going to get this spring,” Spurrier said. “We’ll have plenty of receivers ready to go.”

The spring will also be an avenue for the team’s younger quarterbacks to showcase their skills. Connor Shaw will not be ready for action until midsummer as he recovers from foot surgery.

Redshirt freshman Brendan Nosovitch and incoming freshman Connor Mitch, who enrolled for the spring semester, will get a lot of work, Spurrier said, but added Mitch will be redshirted unless something comes up.

“Connor Mitch is a player we think is going to be very good,” Spurrier said. “He threw for a lot of yards in high school. He’ll probably be redshirted, but he wanted to come early and start learning, so he’s here.

“He, Brendan Nosovitch and Dylan will probably get all the snaps at quarterback.”

The annual spring game will be April 13.

Football team honored

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