E. Cook's USC career likely over

The Gamecocks began their Outback Bowl preparations in earnest Tuesday afternoon at the Proving Grounds. They received some good news, as guard Lemuel Jeanpierre, injured since the Tennessee game, was able to participate in some drills. However, they were without a key defensive starter, as safety Emanuel Cook's Carolina career appears to be over.

Grades are not in yet, but it already appears Cook will not pass the required six hours to play in the bowl game. A three-year starter and South Carolina's leading tackler, Cook is one of five juniors who have filed paperwork with the NFL's draft advisory committee. Since he decided not to finish the semester, it appears likely that Cook has already decided to declare for the draft.

"It appears that Emanuel Cook didn't make it," said Steve Spurrier. "He will not play in the game. It's disappointing that he did not think of his team or his university. It's not hard to pass six hours, but he didn't put much effort in."

Cook went to practice Tuesday, but did not participate and was told to leave. Spurrier does not expect any other academic casualties. However, Cook's absence creates a significant void in the defense. Darian Stewart appears likely to slide back to Cook's strong safety position, alongside Chris Culliver. That leaves Stewart's Spur position open, and converted wide receiver Dion LeCorn is expected to fill that role.

"Right now Dion LeCorn is the starter right there," said Spurrier. "Dion will get his first extensive time playing over there, so we'll see what he can do."

On the plus side, Jeanpierre was at practice. He did not participate in any contact drills, but it still marked the most work he has done on his injured knee. His availability for the bowl is still uncertain.

"He was out here in a gold shirt, but he did not do much," said Spurrier.

It would not be the first real bowl practice without a breathless update on the status of quarterback Stephen Garcia. So here it is.

"He's got a ways to go; it's early," Spurrier reported. "We've got a long time before we play, so we've got to hope Stephen can improve."

Jeanpierre discusses rehab and more

The Gamecocks have to be encouraged to have Jeanpierre back at practice, even if he is wearing a yellow jersey. Jeanpierre talked after practice about how his injured right knee feels, and what it is like being a new graduate of the University of South Carolina.

A redshirt junior, Jeanpierre graduated with a degree in retailing, and was able to walk across stage Monday at commencement exercises to receive his diploma. He plans to pursue his master's in sports management.

"I did it in three and a half years, and now I'm going to try to get my master's," he said proudly.

On the injury front, things are less certain for Jeanpierre. Being able to don pads for practice Tuesday was an accomplishment, but he is still a ways away from being able to practice.

"I was out here today pushing the sled around a little bit, doing drills," he said. "It felt pretty good. It didn't feel quite 100% yet, but there's still time and I'm still working. I'm not going to rush it."

Jeanpierre spent the last week rehabbing the knee in a controlled environment. He was able to do some running during the Saturday practice, which he explained was his first "dry" running.

"Last practice I was out here running around and doing drills, doing different things," he said. "I've been walking for a while without my crutches, running on a treadmill under water."

As Jeanpierre patiently answered questions, reporter after reporter came up and asked the same question, "Are you going to play in the Outback Bowl?" Jeanpierre managed to come up with a different way of giving the answer every time.

"I'm taking it day by day," he said. "I might be able to, I might not. The doctors will tell me if I'm going to play or not."

Even if he cannot play, Jeanpierre will be in Tampa to cheer on his teammates. He is from Orlando, so it will be easy for him to get to Tampa

"I'm local anyway, so it wouldn't be a big trip for me."

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