LET THE BUZZ BEGIN …
Numerous University of South Carolina football players are appearing on preseason “watch lists,” a promising sign for the continued success of the resurgent Gamecock program.
Under tenth-year head coach Steve Spurrier, South Carolina has won eleven games in three consecutive seasons. Prior to that impressive run, the Gamecocks had won ten games just once … in more than a century of football. South Carolina is also coming off of three consecutive Top Ten finishes – including a school-record No. 4 national ranking to close out the 2013 campaign.
Spurrier’s squad has also won three straight New Year’s Day bowl games over ranked opponents from the Big Ten – and five straight over arch-rival Clemson.
It’s an era of unprecedented success, in other words …
Looking to keep things going this season is junior running back Mike Davis (above )- a second-team all-SEC selection a year ago who amassed 1,183 rushing yards (the fourth-highest total in school history) along with eleven touchdowns. He also caught 34 passes for 352 yards.
In addition to earning third-team preseason All-America honors from a pair of publications, the 5-foot-9, 223-pound bruiser is on the preseason watch list for the prestigious Maxwell Award – presented annually to the best player in college football.
Also attracting national attention? Quarterback/ wide receiver/ running back Pharoh Cooper – who is on the watch list for the Paul Hornung award, presented each year to college football’s most versatile athlete. Cooper – a 5-foot-11, 200-pound sophomore – carried the football 20 times for 202 yards, completed two of three passes for 29 yards (and a touchdown), caught three passes for 54 yards, returned 16 kickoffs (for a 22.4-yard average) and returned nine punts for 40 yards last season.
Other Gamecocks earning preseason recognition? Senior tight end Rory “Busta” Anderson and sophomore center Cody Waldrop, who both made preseason watch lists at their positions.
South Carolina opens its 2014 season at home on August 28 against Texas A&M University. This Thursday night game will be televised live on the SEC Network at 6:00 p.m. EDT. Two additional home games follow on September 6 against East Carolina (7:00 p.m. EDT – ESPN 2) and on September 13 against Georgia (3:30 p.m. EDT – CBS).
The Aggies will be without a trio of 2014 first round NFL draft picks – offensive tackle Jake Matthews (No. 6 overall – Atlanta), wide receiver Mike Evans (No. 7 overall – Tampa Bay) and quarterback Johnny Manziel (No. 22 overall – Cleveland). Meanwhile South Carolina must replace No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney – arguably the most talented player in school history – and quarterback Connor Shaw, its longtime leader.