Prep school update: Part I

South Carolina placed three members of its highly touted 2007 signing class up at Fork Union Military Academy this fall after the trio did not initially make the grades necessary to enroll at USC. Today, in part one of a four-part series, sits down with Fork Union Head Coach John Shuman to discuss the progress of Carolina commitments Antonio Allen, Akeem Auguste and Eric Baker.

Coach John Shuman has built a winning tradition with Fork Union‘s post-graduate football program, but more rewarding to him is the ability to help young men achieve their academic and athletic dreams year after year. Fork Union, a prep school located in Fork Union, Virginia, is often used as a springboard for Division-I athletes that do not make the necessary grades to qualify directly out of high school, and Shuman prides himself in helping his players improve both on the football field and in the classroom while they're under his watch.

This fall, Shuman and staff welcomed in three of South Carolina's 2007 football signees, and the veteran coach has been very impressed with what he's seen from the trio of future Gamecocks. Shuman, who has guided Fork Union to a 4-1 start this season, first shared his impressions of versatile Jacksonville, FL product and future Gamecock running back Eric Baker.

"Eric Baker's a top flight athlete. He's a bonafide I-A talent. We're trying to get him a little more physical to attack the line of scrimmage and get his pads under him, but he has a tremendous amount of speed and elusive ability. He's been used to going outside, but we're working on using his skills in between the tackles. He's doing a good job of it. He's playing some linebacker for us too, and he flies around pretty good. Baker‘s also our punt return guy. He‘s taken two back already for scores."

According to Shuman, he's also been very pleased with the play of ball-hawking safety Antonio Allen, who hails from Ocala, FL.

"Antonio Allen's playing safety for us. He intercepted a pass that led to our victory (over Valley Forge Military College) on Friday. He's a heady guy and breaks on the ball pretty well. He's got a couple interceptions, and he loves to hit."

The third member of the Gamecock contingent at Fork Union is Hollywood, FL standout cornerback Akeem Auguste, who Shuman says has unbelievable speed, but has unfortunately been battling a hamstring injury of late.

"Auguste's coming back off a (hamstring) injury. We're hoping he'll start showing his talent. We have him at receiver and DB, and we‘re hoping we can get him back out there so we can have some more speed at those spots."

Shuman closed by saying that the trio of future Gamecocks are all working hard and are well on their way to becoming academically eligible.

"They're all good players. We're happy that South Carolina sent them our way. They're doing good. They're working hard. They've got good grades right now. We're all signed up and ready for the October SAT's. We've signed up for the ACT's. We're ready. We're pumped."

Stay tuned to throughout the week, as we will feature in depth, one-on-one interviews with Allen, Auguste and Baker.

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