Position Changes Highlight Monday Practice

The Gamecocks kicked off the final week of spring football Monday night, braving unseasonably cool temperatures and experimenting with a pair of position changes.


Coach Steve Spurrier announced following Monday's workout that converted defensive lineman Lemuel Jeanpierre had moved to the offensive line. "Lem," as his teammates call him, practiced on the o-line for the first time since making the switch following the last scrimmage. Jeanpierre is now working at guard, but could also try playing tackle. Spurrier has extremely high hopes for the sophomore, even going so far as to predict that Jeanpierre will start in the season opener. "I just think he's got the ability to do it, and the commitment," Spurrier said. "He'll be here all summer lifting, working out, and learning the plays. He's that type of young man, and those types you've got to get on the field."

With a glut of talented defensive linemen on campus, Spurrier thinks that Jeanpierre has a better chance of seeing the field on offense. "We can't play twelve defensive linemen, so we're getting him over on offense and giving him a chance to be a starter and maybe play the whole game. We're trying to find our best athletes to get on the field."

Jeanpierre said he spoke with Spurrier last week, and he recommended the move. "Coach Spurrier said I could really help at offensive line, and I might even have a brighter future there," he said. Jeanpierre echoed what Spurrier said about hard work. "The coaches are really working with me right now, and I'm willing to put in the extra time to do that. I want to help the team win the SEC Championship, and if I can help out most at guard, I'll do that."

The second position change is not nearly as drastic. Linebacker Casper Brinkley, who was a starter last season at defensive end, was back in a three-point stance Monday night. The move is not absolute, Spurrier explained. "He'll probably play a little of both next year. He may be a little bit better [at defensive end]. He played well there last year. It seems like being out in space covering passes hasn't been his best thing right now."

Turning to his favorite subject, the quarterbacks, Spurrier announced that Tommy Beecher suffered a minor injury in the last scrimmage. "Tommy Beecher sprained his shoulder," Spurrier said. "On one of those interceptions he went diving for the guy in the end zone and sprained his shoulder just a little bit." Spurrier added that Beecher might not be able to play in the Garnet and Black Spring Game.

Incumbent Blake Mitchell has solidified his status as the starter. Neither Beecher nor Chris Smelley has been able to mount a significant challenge to Mitchell this spring. "Blake had some good plays in the scrimmage," Spurrier said. "Our other quarterbacks are struggling a little bit right now. They all struggled the first scrimmage, but Blake was by far the best last scrimmage."

With Beecher out, the focus will be on Smelley. Spurrier expects Smelley to play the entire game for one side. "Chris Smelley will get a chance to throw about 30-35 balls," he said, "and see if he can hit a few." Smelley has struggled this spring, and Spurrier says the key for Smelley to improve will be how he works out on his own this summer. "It's a long summer. I just told Chris Smelley, if you throw about 400 of those cover 2 fade routes this summer, [you] might be able to hit one when the season starts. If he doesn't [practice], then he'll never hit one. You've got to practice these throws, and we can't watch them all the time, so hopefully we can give them a plan on what to do during the summer and have them do it."

Notes:

- Cory Boyd missed Monday's practice due to a class conflict.

- Carlos Thomas tweaked his hamstring during 11-on11 drills. He tried to continue practicing, but struggled in coverage and eventually took himself out to avoid further injury.

- Spurrier had a visitor at Monday's practice: East Carolina coach and former Gamecock assistant Skip Holtz. "I told him he's always welcome around here," said Spurrier. "They had a super year there at East Carolina, and we always wish them the best, except when they play us." The Pirates and Gamecocks are negotiating to play one or two games in the next few years.

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories