Maddox primed for bigger role in 2008
With veterans Cory Boyd and Mike Davis getting the majority of the carries, Maddox was relegated to mainly special teams play as a freshman. Formerly the nation's no. 31 ranked running back in the country according to Scout.com, Maddox admitted it was difficult sitting the bench watching Boyd and Davis after being his team's top running back for three years.
While there's no doubt he wanted to play, Maddox says he understands why those guys were ahead of him.
"They had been here forever and deserved to get all the carries; I understand that," Maddox said. "It's hard for a freshman to come in right away and play in this offense. It's real hard, I would say."
That year on the bench did not go to waste for the young Maddox, though. As one of the hardest workers on the team, Maddox used the year to make himself better. He says he has learned a lot from Boyd and Davis, and they taught him "to run patient and when the hole's there to take it and hit it fast."
With Boyd gone and Davis the clear no. 1 back as a senior, Maddox was the favorite to be the second back in Spurrier's predominantly two-back offense entering the spring. At 5'10", 224 pounds and a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield as well, Maddox was clearly in the mold of the classic Spurrier ‘back. Maddox displayed excellent hands in high school and believes he can fit into Boyd's role in that aspect of the South Carolina offense. Boyd caught 36 passes for 405 yards last season, good for second on the team in receptions.
Despite appearing to be the ideal Spurrier running back, Maddox struggled finding the hole and making people miss at times early in the spring. The slow start brought on some speculation that Maddox would eventually be passed by freshmen Eric Baker or Kenny Miles. But Maddox persevered, and after an up-and-down spring practice, he turned in the breakthrough performance he had been waiting for in the Garnet and Black Spring Game when he rushed for 90 yards on 10 carries and was named the team's Most Improved Running Back by the coaching staff.
After the spring game, with rising confidence Maddox had a productive summer as he worked hard to improve his overall game, particularly his pass blocking.
"That's been going good," Maddox said. "That's something you can work on day-in, day-out and week-in, week-out to just keep getting better at pass blocking."
Maddox entered fall camp as the no. 2 running back and a much-improved running back in comparison to the raw freshman that entered last year's fall camp.
"Reading holes, pass-blocking and making the first guy miss (are things I've improved on)," Maddox said. "I'm just able to play faster. Just knowing everything else that's going on, on the field around me allows me to play faster."
When Davis went down with a shoulder injury during a practice last week, Maddox was given the opportunity to show he could produce as the Gamecocks' go-to ‘back. Maddox says it was unfortunate for him to get the opportunity because of Davis' injury, but he knew he had to take advantage of the situation.
"It is good for me (to get to work with the first team)," Maddox said. "Coach Gillespie tells me to seize the opportunity, seize the moment, focus on what I have to do and keep working hard day-in and day-out, week-in and week-out."
Just as he seized the moment in the spring game, with all eyes on him Maddox produced again Wednesday in the team's open scrimmage at Williams-Brice Stadium, rushing seven times for 48 yards and a touchdown on the first drive.
"They fed me the rock every play (on the first drive)," Maddox said. "It felt great to be out there and run around a little bit. I'm just blessed that I haven't had any injuries this camp so far."
After Maddox dominated the first drive, the coaching staff chose to rest him for the rest of the scrimmage, probably a good sign that the staff is happy with what they have seen from Maddox. With a season under his belt and a year older and wiser, Maddox believes his time to play is quickly approaching.
"I think I've shown what I can do out there on the field," Maddox said. "I think I'm going to get a whole lot more carries this year."
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