Slowly but surely, South Carolina is getting back to full health.
While top receiver Bruce Ellington and the No. 6 Gamecocks top two tight ends, Rory Busta Anderson and Jerell Adams, remain out, USC received the other end of its defensive line at practice on Wednesday. End Chaz Sutton, out for over a week with a sprained foot, was full-go.
Its feeling great, Sutton said. Im just getting back to where I was when I first left out of practice. Just trying to get back in the groove of things. A little rusty, but I should be OK.
A fifth-year senior with 37 games of experience, Sutton was being counted on to take advantage of the double-teams sure to come to the other side of the line (Jadeveon Clowney). Sutton had seven tackles for loss and five sacks last year and was primed to drastically elevate those totals in 2013.
The foot bothered him throughout a chunk of preseason practice, but USC never seemed concerned that Sutton would miss the season-opener. Wednesday had him back at practice and ready to go.
Sutton said he cant wait to get started.
Any game we go into, we want to always prove that we can get to the quarterback quick and fast in a game, Sutton said. We just set the tone with our front four and just be there the whole night.
I dont mind
Discussing the Gamecocks secondary among the national and SEC brethren usually centers on cornerback Victor Hampton. The junior has all the tools to be an elite defender, and then play on Sundays for a long, long time.
The other guys not bad, either.
Senior Jimmy Legree had three interceptions last year, tying for the team lead with DeVonte Holloman. He also broke up six passes and had 44 tackles.
Not many are talking about him. Thats fine.
Im just going to do what I got to do to help my team win, Legree said. Nah (I dont mind). I dont live for all the hype. Im a real quiet guy, just do my job and get out the way.
Secondary coach Grady Brown has three of his top four cornerbacks set. Hampton and Legree should start, with redshirt sophomore Ahmad Christian backing up.
The fourth spot is being fought over by redshirt freshman Rico McWilliams and surprising newcomer Jamari Smith. Smith, who switched from offense less than two weeks ago, has already intercepted a couple of passes during scrimmages and is making a move.
Players who did not practice or wore yellow jerseys were: Devin Washington (concussion), Jerell Adams (twisted left ankle), Carlton Heard (hamstring), Kadetrix Marcus (left knee sprain), James King (foot), Gerald Turner (ankle), Kyle Morini (dislocated left elbow), Bruce Ellington (hamstring), Cedrick Cooper (dislocated left elbow), Rory Busta Anderson (hamstring), Mike Matulis (shoulder) and Cody Gibson (sprained right knee).
Marcus wore yellow but also practiced.
The Gamecocks will next practice at 4:15 p.m. on Thursday. It is closed to the public.