Pope Still Getting Head Start

South Carolina did not have enough scholarships available for 2007 signee Sam Pope to transfer into USC in January and ultimately take part in spring practice, but that doesn't mean the standout defensive back isn't still getting a head start on things. Read inside for full story.

After graduating from SW Mississippi Community College in December, cornerback Sam Pope hoped to enroll at South Carolina for the spring semester and join the Gamecocks for spring practice, but due to mid-year scholarship limitations, Pope was told he could not join the team until the summer. However, Pope, who is a native of Beaufort, SC, decided to do the next best thing and move to Columbia.

The 6'1, 190 pound Pope is not allowed to take part in any official team activities until the summer, but he has taken the initiative to attend several of Carolina's spring practices as well as sit in on certain team meetings to gain a better grasp of USC‘s defensive scheme. According to Pope, he feels that he is getting the head start that he needs in order to jump right into the mix when fall camp begins.

"I'm learning a lot of the plays now and a lot of the checks on defense," said Pope. "I'll be ready in the fall. I just want to practice hard and earn a starting spot."

Pope is joined by fellow 2007 signee Addison Williams, who also moved to Columbia this spring after graduating from high school early. The two of them are making the most of their close proximity to USC, and according to Pope, they are getting a crash course in the Gamecock defense.

"One of Coach (Ron) Cooper's assistants is helping us. He teaches me and Addison plays almost every day. He just teaches us new stuff."

Pope has been impressed by what he's seen of the Carolina defense this spring, but he said he is looking forward to putting on the pads and showing everyone what he can do.

"I like their defense. They look pretty tough, but I believe I can come in and make them even better."

Pope, who said he models his game after Denver Bronco corner Champ Bailey, believes he brings a unique skill set to the cornerback position with his combination of size and physical play.

"I believe I can come in and help the secondary a lot. I think I can bring more size and be more physical. That‘s something they don‘t have right now, and I think I can provide that."

The former Beaufort High School (SC) standout said he enjoys living in Columbia, and he has already become good friends with fellow JUCO transfer Larry Freeman.

"I like it here a lot. I'm hanging out with Larry (Freeman) a lot. Larry went to JUCO too, and we played against them. We've been hanging out."

Pope closed by sharing a message about what Gamecock fans can look forward to in the 2007 season.

"Our goal is to win the SEC Championship. Right now we're just planning to take it one game at a time, but be ready for an exciting season this year."

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