COLUMBIA – South Carolina’s football team begins spring practices this afternoon. The Gamecocks will be without several key players who are still recovering from surgeries.

Among those expected to miss the spring: cornerback Akeem Auguste (foot), running back Shon Carson (knee), running back Marcus Lattimore (knee), offensive tackle Mike Matulis (shoulder), offensive tackle Brock Stadnik (shoulder) and free safety D.J. Swearinger (foot).

Auguste missed all of last season with his foot injury. He would have been a senior last year, but redshirted and will return this fall. The Gamecocks have to fill both corner spots, and Auguste is expected to figure prominently in the competition, along with sophomore Victor Hampton.

Carson and Lattimore both suffered season-ending ligament tears last fall – Carson in the second game, Lattimore in the seventh.

Carson was a true freshman last fall, and he redshirted. Lattimore, who will be a junior this season, was expected to be one of college football’s best running backs in 2011. His injury was seen as a major blow to the Gamecocks, but they were able to overcome it and finish 11-2 – their most wins ever. Lattimore is scheduled to resume his role as USC’s top tailback in 2012.

Matulis, a true freshman last fall, took over the starting right tackle spot with three games remaining in the regular season. He underwent surgery after the season. Stadnik graduated high school in the winter to enroll at USC early, along with his brother, Clayton, a center.

Swearinger was a starter all year, and he played through a stress fracture in his foot for most of the season’s second half. He underwent surgery after the season.