Rooster Report 31 March 2004

News from Spring Practice including a few surprises and news of a couple of meetings a player is going to have to endure if he intends to stay on this football team ...

Jonathan Joseph is a man among boys in the secondary. One of the more natural cornerbacks I have ever seen. He has incredible hips and a strong nose for the ball. Touting his coverage skills in writing, there is no way to do him justice. He is that good. The surprise is how physical he is with his run support. He is a big time hitter and fearless.

Mike Rathe has the best arm of all the quarterbacks by far. He is the most accurate and throws the best ball. He is getting his fair share of snaps too - although the two young QBs are getting the majority because the coaches want them to get the lion's share of the work for evaluation purposes. The one knock on Rathe is his decision making process. He could still use some work in that area according to my sources, but they stress he is improving in that regard.

Daccus Turman is all grown up now physically. He is the bruiser in the backfield. What I mean by that is that this 2004 Gamecock backfield is very balanced in terms of what they bring to the table. Each back has his own specialty. Cory Boyd is the hard running scat back. He is the more elusive of the three, able to juke defensive players and he has better moves without the ball - and he is the fastest of the trio. Demetris Summers is probably the better overall talent obviously. He has the best vision of the three and conversely makes the best cuts to avoid contact. But Daccus Turman is the bull. Turman runs over people. He is bigger than last season, especially around his neck, shoulders and arms. He challenges tacklers to accept his punishment when he is carrying the football. He is no fun to tackle judging from the heads that were shaking when getting out of piles with him after some pretty violent collisions.

Brandon Schweitzer is going to be fun to watch at fullback. He is home as far as he is concerned. He told me Tuesday he is now down to 262 and still shooting for that 250 mark. What a great looking fullback! You will be excited to see him anchor the I as the leading blocker for the Gamecock tailbacks. Brandon is turning heads with his approach to the position and he appears to be just what the doctor ordered. He gets to the hole in a hurry and brings a lot of intensity to the play in the process. Better yet, he has outstanding hands and will be a worthy receiver on the quick little dump routes up the middle.

It is still not looking good for Chad Walker. I am seriously beginning to doubt whether or not he will play football again. I do not see it happening - if it does, we should all be surprised.

Matthew Thomas still has plenty of attitude to go around. He is hating not being able to practice. He does not handle not being busy well. Thankfully his ankle injury does not appear serious. It is not a high ankle sprain ... he simply rolled it.

As I first reported Tuesday night in the chat, and I understand it is everywhere now, Derrick Harper hurt a hand or wrist and is not seeing much action. I was first told it was broken and later told it is tendon damage. At any rate, this will slow his progression at wide receiver ... and just when he was looking so good.

Travis Lee looks good at wide receiver - and that appears to be where he will stay. He is very quick and a natural route runner. He is wearing number 88 and it looks good on him for some reason. He has good hands but needs to work on his fluidity some. Right now he is very mechanical - but you can see he has a lot of natural ability.

I'll say this again. Noah Whiteside may go down as one of the best receivers in South Carolina history. He has it all and he knows how to use it. He is the first really big time wide receiver at South Carolina since Robert Brooks.

Lou did not have a cast put on his leg. He is walking around limping - concentrating on trying to walk it off. But you could see the pain increase and the limping get worse as practice continued. By the end of the two hours he was limping badly and clearly in pain although trying not to let it show. I mention this because the team notes it and Lou is setting the example.

The tight ends really look good. Andy Boyd is back. Fran Person looks good. Brian Brownlee has bulked up and it may have cost him a half step's worth of speed but he is such a bull and such a good blocker it should pay off in that regard. There are a couple of decent looking tight end walk ons out there as well. The real surprise I guess you could say is David Laggis. He is looking very very good at tight end. I've been telling you we are loaded at tight end - you'll see. This is a sharp group.

Speaking of walk ons there are a couple of very good looking fullback prospect walkons. Peters we have mentioned but there is another. A big white kid that was wearing #35 Tuesday. He is big enough to be moved to tight end - and may be. In addition there are a couple of really good looking wide receiver walk ons out there. One has a French sounding last name that I cannot remember at the moment. The other is Michael Flint - he will see playing time this year because he has such excellent hands.

Speaking of hands you can bet that Kris Clark will be the go-to third down possession receiver this year. If the ball is thrown anywhere within his reach, he catches it.

D'Von Hill is doing well but I still have serious doubts about his speed.

David Smith has lost weight and is no longer being considered a tight end. He is at wide receiver and he is plenty tall and fairly smooth. Still, he does not have that breakaway speed. He is built more like Brian Scott. It will be interesting to see if he works his way into the lineup.

Lance Laury is definitely not back to full speed yet as we had hoped. He kept telling me that he was feeling fine and feeling no pain - but after a few practices he is limping again. Rod Wilson however is a holy terror and may have found a home at outside linebacker. And Darrell Shropshire has grown an afro (it is in style this year) and appears to be 100%. So much so that he is really dominating out there beside Freddy Saint-Preux. Both are taking names on the defensive line.

Stanley Doughty has trimmed down. He has lost weight but gained muscle. He really looks like a rugged physical specimen. When his coordination catches up with the rest of his body he is going to be fun to watch. He has a lot of fun playing the game and never allows anything to bother him for long. That is the sign of a player that will eventually contribute in a big way.

Woodly Telfort is a beast. I mean he is enormous! And he came back to camp in excellent shape and with that patented Woodly smile. But he turns it off and turns mean instead once he dons the pads and I look for him to get plenty of snaps this year. Last year was a learning experience for him - this year Shank thinks Telfort will be ready to become a factor.

Troy Williamson is dropping way too many balls and Rick Stockstill is not happy about that. Stock is a driver - and you had better catch the football if you want to play for him on Saturdays.

Andrea Gause was not kicked off the team, not yet anyway. It could still happen. He was not allowed to practice Sunday or Tuesday, as I reported last night on Phil Kornblut's Insider show and later again in the chat. But as I explained in the chat he is in a deep hole. He goes before the new Unity Council again today and tomorrow he will go before Lou himself once Lou gets back in town.

There was a bus load of prospects at Tuesday's practice from Lancaster County and Lou spent some time speaking with them as a group. Actually, he walked over to the sidelines and spoke with their coach and shook a few hands right in the middle of practice. A nice touch.

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