At One Spot or the Other

ATHENS – Given that Sanders Commings grew up right next to the Georgia-South Carolina border, one would think beating the Gamecocks is a definitive goal of his.

"This week it is," he answers casually.

If the junior defensive back does carry hard feelings for South Carolina, he isn't talking about them publicly.

"In Augusta we have both fans—South Carolina and Georgia fans," he said. "North Augusta is only two minutes away. They've got a bunch of South Carolina fans over there. I've gotten Facebook messages saying Go Cocks and Go Dawgs. It's an important game."

Both schools recruited him out of Westside High, and when Commings chose the Bulldogs in winter of 2008 he picked the perennial conqueror in the rivalry.

While Georgia has won two of the three games Sanders has seen as a Bulldog (redshirted in ‘08, played in ‘09, ‘10), the tables have turned.

The Gamecocks won convincingly last season. And now for the first time in series history, South Carolina is ranked and Georgia is not entering the contest.

"Ever since they got Coach (Steve) Spurrier he's been turning that program around," Commings, 6-2, 217 pounds, said. "This is one of the games on our schedule that Georgia looks forward to on the schedule. In the past, Georgia didn't really look forward to playing them. Now we do."

And in such a pivotal early season matchup, Commings will play a chief role on defense.

He started at safety against Boise State and had seven solo tackles. With the return of junior safety Bacarri Rambo, Commings could—and most likely—will return to cornerback. Considering the Gamecocks feature running back Marcus Lattimore (6-foot, 235 pounds) and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (6-4, 229 pounds), having Commings play near the line of scrimmage could help out in all matters concerning physicality.

"Yeah, seeing as they run the ball a lot to the boundary and throw a lot, Sanders being that bigger type of corner could help him come in there and make that play," said senior cornerback Brandon Boykin.

Perhaps it would be a mistake to overstate how much Commings will aid against Lattimore, who rushed 37 times for 182 yards and two touchdowns against Georgia last season. That task falls on the defensive front seven.

Where Commings can make his mark is against Jeffery, the SEC leader in receiving yards (108.4) per game last year.

Commings is blunt when asked about defending Jeffery.

"I would love that challenge," he said.

Commings' ability to play both safety and corner has impressed his teammates. In theory, the positions aren't that different. But that's a naïve blanket statement.

"It just shows his true athleticism to be able to play both spots," safety Marc Deas said. "It's still a learning process. You have to communicate the calls at safety and at corner you have to depend on your brother that's behind you. You have to know what each other does out there on the field. I know it was a big transition for him, but it wasn't too hard I'm sure."

Commings says there's a chance he could play both spots this Saturday. But like his reaction about the rivalry, he isn't saying much.

"I'm still cross training," he said.

Regardless of where he plays, Commings is important. And the timing on the schedule couldn't be better.

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