USC FOOTBALL

Players bulk up as season looms

jkendall@thestate.comJuly 4, 2013 

FILE PHOTO: Cody Waldrop runs a drill at the South Carolina football practice on Bluff Road.

C MICHAEL BERGEN — mbergen@thestate.com

South Carolina’s football players are enjoying their final off-week of the calendar year this week.

The Gamecocks, thanks to an NCAA-mandated break, have the week off between their two summer conditioning sessions. When they return to the weight room at Williams-Brice Stadium on Monday, it will mark the beginning of a three-week push that will take them to the start of training camp.

The first summer session “went really well,” South Carolina strength and conditioning coach Joe Connolly told The State. “Everybody was here. Everybody was working hard and doing what they need to do to get themselves ready.”

The first summer session lasted one month, and Connolly was pleased with the Gamecocks’ offensive line, he said.

“I’m real excited about the offensive line crew we have,” Connolly said. “Those guys are doing a fantastic job, all five of them. They are all leaders. They are all doing extra work. They are doing more than what is asked of them. They all have great attitudes. They are all trying to get bigger and stronger and they’re all already pretty freaking big. We’re ready for them to get out there and play some football.”

We asked Connolly more about the offensive linemen and plenty of other South Carolina players as well.

CODY WALDROP

6-foot-2, 315-pound freshman center

“He’s very strong. He’s built like a fire hydrant. He will be 308 in-season.”

A.J. CANN

6-foot-4, 316-pound junior guard

“A.J. Cann is doing phenomenal. He can move better than he has ever been able to.”

RONALD PATRICK

6-foot-2, 308-pound senior guard

“Moving great. He’s having the best summer he has ever had.”

COREY ROBINSON

6-foot-8, 335-pound senior offensive tackle

“Corey Robinson is 335 pounds, and that’s a great body weight for him because he’s one of the most athletic guys on the team. Everybody knows his story — and he’d be the first to tell you — when he came in here, he was overwhelmed, he wasn’t ready. It took him about two years to adapt to what we do. And now he is one of my favorite guys from a strength and conditioning standpoint and one of coach (Shawn) Elliott’s favorite guys from a football standpoint, just because he is so gifted. He’s learning the system. He’s been through a whole season. That’s huge. He’s got Pro Bowl type of ability.”

BRANDON SHELL

6-foot-6, 322-pound sophomore offensive tackle

“He’s working his tail off. Brandon is doing great. He’s a frontrunner during conditioning. He’s a frontrunner during all of our drills. He’s doing great in the weight room, and he’s really excited about the season.”

BRANDON WILDS

6-foot-2, 218-pound sophomore running back

“He got super strong and super fast in the winter. (Wilds and sophomore running back Mike Davis) feed off each other. We keep them real close in the weight room so they can do that.”

MIKE DAVIS

5-foot-9, 215-pound sophomore running back

“Mike Davis has the ability to be one of the strongest athletes we have ever had here, just genetically. He is extremely strong, and he has that build — short, stocky, very muscle bound — very lean build that allows him to move a lot of weight around in the weight room.”

GERALD DIXON JR.

6-foot-3, 318-pound sophomore defensive tackle

“He is doing really good. He’s one of my favorite guys in here because he is so dang strong. He’s got a chance of breaking our bench press record (500 pounds) and maybe our squat record (670 pounds).”

KELCY QUARLES

6-foot-4, 293-pound senior defensive tackle

“He’s doing great. I really like his effort and intensity.”

KELSEY GRIFFIN

6-foot-2, 292-pound freshman defensive tackle

“He is a young guy who has come in and done a really good job so far. I was pleasantly surprised with the type of shape he came into summer in. Typically with a big man, they are usually shocked the first day, and he wasn’t really shocked. He kind of looked at us and said, ‘OK let’s get to work.’ He’s young, but he’s definitely a good one.”

CEDRICK COOPER

6-foot-2, 235-pound sophomore linebacker

“I couldn’t be happier with Cedric Cooper’s progress. He is full go right now. He is doing phenomenal. It’s like the ACL didn’t even happen. He’s stronger than he has ever been. He looks like a freak. You can see every striation of every muscle fiber on that kid’s body anytime he does anything, and he’s fast. He’s going to run a 4.5.”

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