Gamecock Football: Doing Just Fine

Spring Practice begins Saturday and this is not going to be the same type Spring Practices of old. Also, about this nickname for Williams-Brice Stadium . . .

I wanted to write this Rooster Report late Wednesday or early Thursday. I thought that would give me ample time to gather more information and speak directly with more sources. As it happens, I was unable to get in touch with people I needed to speak with until late Thursday night and early Friday morning. People are traveling these days, catching them on the road is more difficult than some may realize. Anyway . . .

We were hoping for good news on the Mike Rathe appeal by this morning. To the best of our knowledge, something we have been unable to officially confirm, at least one (possibly two) Georgia players may have recently been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. We do not know the circumstances or the details but we do know that Mike Rathe's attorney has been made aware of this and most that I have spoken with feel this may play into Rathe's favor.

With regards to the nicknaming of Billy-Brice. First of all when I said to Coach Spurrier Wednesday, "Coach, there is only one nickname for Williams-Brice and that is 'The Cock Pit'". You would not believe how many laughs that drew from the mainstream media. Coach Spurrier immediately asked if that was the general consensus. Almost to a man, the media acted as if they had been gut shot! No one backed me on the idea. It was surprising until I received a few phone calls from those in attendance that said they had never even heard Williams-Brice referred to as 'The Cock Pit'.

Huh? Is it just me or is the media out of touch with the fans?

Let's look at nickname options for a moment if you will.

The Roost: roost - 1 a : a support on which birds rest b : a place where winged animals and especially birds customarily roost
2 : a group of birds (as fowl) roosting together

Is the team going to the stadium to take a break? To rest? To put themselves up on their perch and watch the other team play football? Oh wait a minute. Perhaps we are nicknaming the stadium to reflect what the fans are doing there?

verb- Synonyms roost ALIGHT, land, light, perch, set down, settle, sit down, touch down.

The Coop: coop - 1 : a cage or small enclosure (as for poultry); also : a small building for housing poultry
2 a : a confined area b : JAIL

Enough said.

The Cock Pit: cockpit - 1 a : a pit or enclosure for cockfights b : a place noted for especially bloody, violent, or long-continued conflict.

Yes! Now that's more like it! To heck with Peta and to heck with the politically correct. 'The Cock Pit' is the perfect nickname for a SEC football stadium. And besides, why are we even considering other names? It's been 'The Cock Pit' for as long as I can remember. If I'm not mistaken, Bob Fulton started it more than forty years ago and it stuck.

Wait a second. I can hear it now. 'We cannot call it 'The Cock Pit' because that evokes visions of two Gamecocks fighting to the death! Besides, think of all the birds that have died fighting in cockpits around the world!'

Well, think of all the dogs, birds and people pulled into swamps by alligators over the years. I do not hear them screaming to change the nickname of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Do you?

On to other things.

I was grabbed from behind and almost squeezed to death twice at the NFL Pro Day Wednesday at the Indoor Practice Facility. The first time by this kid named Ricardo Hurley. The second by the dad of a now former player, George Gause.

Ricardo is doing well. He was excited to be there witnessing the combines and is looking forward to his chance in the future. I asked him about the mind set of the team and he was quick to tell me, "We're doing great! We can't wait to get started."

I also asked Ricardo if he felt Coach Spurrier was going to bring a positive mental attitude to the team. Hurley said that he (Spurrier) already had. That Spurrier was a different kind of coach and that he treats players like human beings and like men. He also eluded to the off-field problems and indicated that the actions taken by Spurrier were just and valid and that it has helped bring discipline to the team and an understand of the way things were going to be from this point forward.

George Gause senior was the giver of the other rib crushing bear hug. Big George, as I call him, and I served together in the 82nd Airborne Division. He and Mrs. Gause were there watching 'Little George' go through the paces at the combines. Little George did very well as you already know. Of note here, is that Big George wanted everyone to know how much they appreciated the Gamecock fans during their son's stay at USC. He said this place will always have a very special place in their hearts. The Gause family was, is and will always be 'good people'. Absolutely, salt of the earth people. Big George and I will remain friends for life - and he is a friend of the University. 'Little George' will be one of those guys that will return and be a proud representative of our University in the future.

Troy Williamson will too. I had a moment to sit down and have a private conversation with Troy after all of the other media had scattered away. Troy was quick to tell me how much he enjoyed his stay at USC. He told me he had made the right decision going early, but that he would keep up with the team for the rest of his life. He asked me to relay his strong feelings for our fan base and the school and to thank everyone for their support. He wanted to let everyone know that he needed to leave early and that his family would benefit greatly from the money he will earn in the NFL.

Troy blew all of the scouts away in the trials. While his combine forty time is officially 4.38, his times that have stuck in the heads of most scouts I spoke with are 4.30 and 4.32 ... both hand timed. The 4.38 was a 'flat electronic' time done at the end of the workout, but everyone knows he is faster.

Dunta Robinson was there and he and I spoke in depth about the coaching search and how it went down. Someone told him that I went out on a limb with the Jon Hoke defensive coordinator prediction almost to the very end. "You were right Russ. Coach Hoke kept telling me he was thinking hard about it and right up until the very end he was saying he was close to being the Gamecocks' DC."

I never gave away my source until the very end ... and Dunta thanked me for that. And, it worked out just fine. We got a heck of a Defensive Coordinator pair in John Thompson and Tyrone Nix.

Almost forgot. When Troy was doing the shuffle drill for the scouts, I saw him torque the artificial turf so hard that he tore the fabric. I have never seen anything like that before. I can tell you that I was standing right there, close up and personal, with the scouts. When they flashed his times to one another they did so with raised eyebrows and oooos and ahhhhs.

Other Gamecocks that, (based upon what I garnered from the scouts), may go in the draft? Jamacia Jackson and Jermaine Harris will both probably go. Andrea Gause will be picked up by someone as a free agent, and so will Gonzie Gray. Brian Brownlee will probably get his chance as a free agent as well. Matthew Thomas did well in the combines but, for some reason, does not seem to be drawing as much attention as I thought he might. But Matt will be picked up as a free agent. Rodriguez Wilson appears to be a draft pick at this time. Corey Peoples may slip into the draft, but chances are he'll be picked up as a free agent. Jason Capers will get a chance as a free agent in all likelihood.

Daryl Shropshire and Marcus Lawrence are both seeing their stocks rise with each trial. Daryl likes his chances to go in the fifth or sixth round. Marcus' stock has risen enough that if he can continue to improve he has a shot at going as high as the 4th round as I understand it from both the scouts and others close to the situation.

I spoke with Andy Boyd briefly ... Andy is doing well. He is 100% recovered and ready to play. He has been told that we will use the tight end much more this season than in the past.

V.U. and I ran into Daccus Turman at the I-Hop a Sunday or two ago. Suffice it to say, Daccus is walking the straight and narrow and flying below the radar. Looks as if his troubled days are behind him and he is ready to concentrate on school and football. Coach Spurrier sure seems high on Daccus' abilities. Then again, most of us football 'purists' share that point of view. Agreed? Daccus is a hard-nosed young man that could make a difference this year.

I cannot reiterate this enough. What you see on the field this spring will be vastly different from what you will see on the field this September.

- Rooster

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