Darrell "Big Country" Shropshire

Darrell Shropshire is one of the few players on this year's Carolina team considered worthy of two nicknames. Some call him "Big Country." Most of those are his fellow teammates on the defensive side of the ball. The offensive guys have a different name for him ...

"Head Buster," Kenny Irons told us. "Head Buster, Head Splitter, Head Knocker."

He's 6-2, 310 and he runs a verified forty in the high 4.8s.

Shropshire laughs. "Yeah, I know about that and that's fine with me. I consider it an honor in a way," he says almost shyly with his trademark baby-faced smile.

Few other junior college transfers have come to South Carolina in recent seasons with as much fanfare and as much promise as Shropshire. Getting to participate in Spring Practices and the Spring Game in front of the home crowd made his stock go up even more.

"I was glad to get here early and start getting acclimated to this level of football," Shropshire told us. "It will help me this season, especially early in the season, having gotten to play Spring ball with the guys. I was a little hurt during the Spring Game - I am doing a lot better now that I have had time to heal."

It almost didn't happen. For those Carolina fans who follow recruiting, it is a well known fact that Shropshire almost became a Tennessee Volunteer.

"Yeah," he shruggs - again almost blushing. "I was this close. (makes gesture with two fingers less than a half inch apart.) I mean it was really close. I liked it up there and I was convinced that was where I was headed. "

So what changed your mind?

"I can't really put a finger on it. Well, first of all as you know I am originally from Kershaw so this is my home. That played a lot in my decision. Plus once I got to know some of the guys here I knew this was where I needed to be. This is a great groups of guys ... good people."

"What really impressed me was that when I came down for my visit I looked around and there were people working hard everywhere. It wasn't like on other visits when everyone stopped what they were doing to make things look good for you. Here it was like, 'Hi, how ya doing? Now I have to get back to work because we want to win a championship here one day soon,' and I really liked that a lot. Young players like me wanting to win championships. That's what really did it for me. I like that kind of work ethic."

And now that you are here?

"The first thing I noticed was how much faster the game is at this level. There is great competition everywhere on this team, everyone is pushing everyone. But the speed is unreal. I am taking it for granted that everyone in the SEC is going to be fast because that's all I ever heard even before I got here ... the SEC is the fastest conference in the country. Now I believe it."

"But now that I am here I dedicated myself to being the best player I can be. When I go to practice I go with the intention of having a perfect practice, of eliminating all my mistakes and getting better each day. What is helping me do that is the level of competition I am facing here. I mean our offensive line ... whew ... those guys don't play."

You like the offensive line this year huh?

"Yes Sir. They make you work. They come after you and they mean business. So they are making our defensive line better every day. We're going to be good and a lot of it has to do with the offensive line we are having to go up against in practice. If you have good competition to go against in practice, then that makes you better come game day you know what I mean? There aren't going to be too many offensive lines out there better than ours so if we can hold our own against our offensive line then we should be able to do it on the field during games too. Let me say this again - our offensive line comes at you hard."

You were talking about Tennessee earlier. Who else offered you Darrell?

"Written or verbals?" he asks.

Written offers.

"There were a lot. Tennessee, Florida, LSU, Auburn to name a few ... But like I said, this is the place for me."

A lot of fans are asking themselves which is the most important game of the season this year for this football team? There are some key early games. Does the team look at it that way too?

"Yes Sir, we probably ask ourselves that same question sometimes."

"To me the most important game is probably not one ... but three. Virginia, Georgia and Clemson. If we take care of business in those three then the rest of the season will sort of take care of itself if you ask me. It's that simple in my eyes. Each one has its own reason for being the most important game the week we play those three teams. And when we win those three the rest will fall into place."

Thanks Darrell.

"Yes Sir. My pleasure."

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