Sunday Conversation: Nathan Pepper, Part One

"I was recruited under Lou Holtz and I was going to be a Gamecock no matter who was going to be the coach."

Nathan Pepper had started more games than any other returning player on his team going into his senior year at South Carolina, and he always seemed to be swarming the ball or making a game-changing play. As a defensive tackle, Pepper actually scored three career touchdowns, which is almost certainly the most from that position at USC in recent history.

In high school, he was named the AAA Defensive Player of the Year at Greenville High, and he was also named to the South Carolina Shrine Bowl squad before joining the Gamecocks as a freshman in 2005. Pepper currently attends most USC home games, where he joins the team on the sidelines. Nathan was kind enough to help recap this season and his career with an in-depth Q&A with Gamecock Pride.

Gordon: Was this USC season a success or should we be disappointed we didn't go to the SEC title game? And what was your favorite moment or game this year?

NATHAN: I consider this year a HUGE success because we are still doing things that have NEVER been done around this program! My personal favorite moment this year was seeing a hurt Connor Shaw come in against Missouri and bring us back for a huge victory.

Gordon: Where and with who do you usually watch the USC games?

NATHAN: I normally go to most home games, and when I do, I watch them from the sideline with the team. But, if it's an away game, I like to watch at home with family and tailgate out of my living room!

Gordon: Do you stay in touch with former teammates and who were you closest with in school?
NATHAN: I dont' stay in touch with many guys, but I am still close friends with the Lindsey twins (Dustin and Jordin) and Travian Robertson. They are Godparents to my children. Travian's wife and my wife were college roommates and members of the USC track team.

Gordon: What's your feeling about Steve Spurrier's system and the program culture he has established?

NATHAN: I love everything he has done from year one until now. He has made the Gamecocks matter to more people outside the borders of this state!

Gordon: Is Jadeveon Clowney the best defensive line talent you have ever seen?

NATHAN: Clowney is hands down the most impressive athlete at that position I have ever seen. I played in the (Southeastern) conference at that level, and I understand how difficult it is to produce and stay productive at that level. It's even harder when people are able to game plan against you every week.

Gordon: Is there a pride that USC defensive players carry, with a consistently top ranked and physically imposing defense that has been a leading defense since the Lou Holtz days?

NATHAN: There is definitely a strong pride that the players wear on their sleeves now. The Pride is what motivates them on the field and in the film room to want to continue to be the best they can be on that side of the ball.

Gordon: Were you initially recruited by the Holtz staff, and if so, by whom? Who recruited you on the Steve Spurrier staff, and what was it about the coach or South Carolina that sold you?
NATHAN: Yes, I was recruited under Holtz and I was going to be a Gamecock no matter who was going to be the coach. I made that decision early and was going to stick with it. My recruiting coach was Ron Cooper, who was the same under both Spurrier and Holtz. I went to High School with Noah Whiteside and he had been enrolled two years already, so I wanted to be where I already knew someone as well.

Gordon: What other schools recruited you and what was your experience like on other official visits that you made?

NATHAN: I was recruited by UNC, Vandy, Kentucky, and Duke. I took only one official visit to South Carolina. I just knew where I wanted to go, so I didn't feel the need to take any more visits.

Gordon: Who were the best players you played against in High-School?

NATHAN: Sinclair Cannon, a DB from Greer who went to UT (Tennessee). Also, don't know this other kid's name, but a running back for Rock Hill in 2005.

Gordon: Who were the best players you played with and against in the Shrine Bowl?

NATHAN: Tony Baker, running back who went to North Carolina State, Mohamed Massaquoi, wide receiver who went to the University of Georgia, Joe Cox, quarterback who went to UGA, and Mike Davis who went to South Carolina.

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