South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and wide receivers Bruce Ellington and Damiere Byrd returned to practice Tuesday morning.
Well, sort of.
According to South Carolina’s official practice report, Clowney (shoulder) and Byrd (hamstring), along with defensive back Kyle Fleetwood (hamstring), returned to practice Tuesday morning. Ellington, the team’s top returning receiver, did not practice but was on the field.
USC head coach Steve Spurrier was upset after Monday night’s practice when Clowney, Ellington and Byrd were in the locker room and not on the field during the Gamecocks’ workout. At one point Spurrier said that all three might not play in South Carolina’s season opener against North Carolina on Aug. 29.
All that appeared to be in the past after Tuesday morning’s practice when Spurrier said a “miscommunication” between him and the players had been resolved.
“Jadeveon is doing fine. Bruce is doing fine. Damiere is doing fine,” Spurrier said.
“They had a communication problem. They didn’t know they were supposed to be out here watching practice, so I’m the dummy on that. Now they know, and they’re going to be out here watching practices.”
Spurrier was obviously miffed at the trio Monday night after learning that they’d been in the locker room and not on the field during practice.
“They were not in the locker room jivin’ around and playing on their cell phones (Tuesday morning) like they were (Monday night) and that’s my fault,” Spurrier said. “They told me, ‘Coach, no one told us we had to be out there,’ so I’m the dummy, not them.’ ”
While Clowney, Ellington and Byrd were at practice Tuesday, their status for the season opener against the Tar Heels still remains unclear.
“All three of them were out here (Tuesday), but all three did not practice,” Spurrier said. “They’re injured. Two of them were not practicing. Sometimes those hamstring injuries can linger and linger, but if these other guys out here look like they’re ready, we’ll play them. We play the guys that are best ready to play.”
What was thought to be a two-man race at running back between Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds, appears to have added another candidate — redshirt sophomore Shon Carson.
Davis and Wilds still appear to be the front-runners to replace Marcus Lattimore at running back, but Carson is now into the conversation.
“It’s a very close race with Mike and Brandon, but Shon has thrown himself into the mix,” said USC running backs coach Everette Sands said. “I feel very fortunate that I’ve got three guys I can put into the game and don’t have a second thought about it. I know they can get it done.”
The Gamecocks’ scrimmage this past Saturday did nothing to help Sands make up his mind about a starter.
“The scrimmage kind of muddied the waters because everyone had some good runs,” Sands said. “Everyone had a reception and did a good job in pass protection. It made everything seem like it was a bit closer.”
But that’s a good problem to have, Sands said.
“I want guys where I know I can put them in there and I don’t have a second thought about them,” Sands said. “I know they can get it done. They are three different style backs and I think it’s good that I can have three to pick from. I’m still looking for someone to emerge as that guy who’s going to be that first guy to run out there on Aug. 29.”
With Lattimore getting hurt in each of the last two seasons, Sands said having multiple running backs ready to play is essential for any team.
“I think it’s important to have two guys,” Sands said. “Just so the other guy doesn’t get beat up constantly, especially in a league as physical as the SEC. If you’ve only got one, you might be looking for another by the end of the season.”
Davis said he’s not worried about who the starter will be against North Carolina.
“I’m here to be the number one running back, but that’s up to the coaches,” Davis said. “They make that decision, not me.”
Back of the future?
Freshman running back David Williams was one of the top high school players in the state of Pennsylvania a year ago.
Williams was a four-star recruit coming out of Imhotep Charter High School in Philadelphia and the 21st-ranked running back in the nation, according to Rivals.com.
While Williams will likely redshirt this season, he has impressed the coaching staff, Sands said.
“David has done well,” Sands said. “He’s shown a lot of flashes of his quickness and speed. The biggest thing for David is constantly picking up the little things in the offense.”