Spurrier Foresees Bright Future For Fr. Class
After expressing his pleasure with the gorgeous weather for USC's 2009 Football Media Day, Head Coach Steve Spurrier delved into previewing his newest Gamecock team, the fifth of his tenure in Columbia. Not surprisingly, one of the themes Spurrier discussed about his 2009 squad was the amount of freshmen who will see the field for the Gamecocks this season - Not out of necessity in most cases, but because many of them are just that talented, according to the Head Ball Coach.
Spurrier believes with the infusion of young talent on USC's roster, the future looks just as bright as the sunny Sunday afternoon sky was for Media Day. The legendary coach elaborated on why he believes that this freshman class is special, emphasizing how many of the young players came in college-ready and look to be able to contribute right away.
"We're looking forward to this upcoming season. I'm sort of intrigued by how many freshmen are going to play a lot this year," said Spurrier before noting how rare it is for freshmen to make such a seamless transition to the major college level of football. "Most of the time you have players come in and they sit out for a year or two, but this group is right there competing for playing time. It's really something else."
However, Spurrier's praise for his youngsters wasn't just directed at how talented they are in football. According to Spurrier, three members of the freshmen class have led by example on the football field as well as in the classroom, something he cites as a first during his time in Columbia.
"This past semester, the high school kids Jarvis Giles, Stephon Gilmore, and DeVonte Holloman all had GPA's between a 3.2 and a 3.4 during their first college semesters. We haven't had that before," Spurrier said as he reminded reporters that previous January enrollees during his tenure hadn't made such a smooth transition to college. "We've had some kids come in here and mess up. Three years ago we had a quarterback come in here and get kicked out his first semester. Now we've got players with a little different attitude."
Spurrier commended the commitment level and desire to win of the young group and stated that he looks forward to seeing how these players progress not only this season but also in the seasons to come.
"This group of players has shown us by their hard work that they really want to do well, so we'll find out how that plays out for us in the next couple of years," he said.
In recent years, South Carolina has lost a number of high caliber players who chose to forgo their remaining years of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft. Having to replace them quickly has not been the easiest of tasks for the Gamecocks, but Spurrier has faith that this new group of freshmen won't be as easily swayed to leave school as some of Carolina's recent players.
"We believe the freshman class that we've got here now is a group of guys that will stick around," Spurrier stated proudly.
The players who left Carolina early didn't necessarily avoid listening to the coaches' opinions and advice, but it was evident that some of them had outside sources influencing their decisions. During the first week of preseason practice, it was apparent that the new players are fully committed to listening to their coaches in order to get on the field early and help contribute to the team - an encouraging sign for such a highly touted group to enter college with humility and a willingness to learn.
"These guys have been very coachable and are trying to do it the right way," Spurrier announced to the media. "So if they have the ability and talent and can play their assignments, then they'll play and have the opportunity to make an impact as a freshman. These guys certainly have a chance to do that."
With the season opener only 24 days away, the early indications are that USC's crop of talented newcomers are doing all the right things to help the Gamecocks improve on a mediocre 2008 season. While dreams of an SEC Championship may not be realistic this fall, the forecast seems to be calling for sunny days in the Gamecocks' future with these young, well-rounded individuals on the roster.
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