COLUMBIA -- South Carolina has one more position battle than it thought it would in camp. Holder Stephen Flint left the team Thursday, coach Steve Spurrier said after the team's third practice.
Flint, a reserve receiver from Mount Pleasant, was burned out on football, his friends and father said. He'd been contemplating the decision during the summer months and finally made it Wednesday, after the first day of camp.
The Gamecocks used a couple of different options Thursday at holder. One isn't so surprising. One is.
Walk-on quarterback Seth Strickland, from Laurens, fits the mold of what you'd expect. Freshman receiver Ace Sanders, one of the most electric players in camp, isn't exactly the norm.
During a recent meeting, coaches were trying to identify specialists. Sanders reached his hand to the sky when the players were asked who could hold. Sure enough, he's pretty good at it.
"Ace Sanders is an excellent holder," Spurrier said. "He catches that ball, spins it around and puts it down there as quick as anybody we've got."
Kicker Spencer Lanning, who hit 17 of 20 field goals last year with Flint holding, already has decent rapport with Strickland. Backup punter Eric Davis, listed on the depth chart as the second-team holder, is also a possibility.
Sanders is still something of an unknown, since he just got on the practice field this week.
"Ace has got something to him," special teams coordinator Shane Beamer said. "It definitely opens up a lot of fake possibilities if Ace is your holder. But he picked it up pretty good."
Sanders, the 5-7 bullet from Bradenton, Fla., said he held in high school. He's been one of the highlights of the early days of camp, flying around the practice fields in the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. Sanders is also being considered in the return game.
Several of South Carolina's assistant coaches and players -- quarterback Stephen Garcia, Lanning and Beamer, included -- tried to talk Flint, a redshirt junior, into staying. Many tried to warn him that he'd ultimately regret the decision.
Spurrier didn't seem happy with Flint's departure. Initially, Spurrier just mentioned that Flint "quit and that's all I need to say about that." A minute or two later, though, he decided, unprovoked, that he'd share one thought about Flint.
"Stephen Flint needed this team more than we needed him," Spurrier said. "But he chose not to play anymore. That's a choice he's got to live with. But, anyway, we're in good shape at the holder position."
Flint was a talented athlete at Wando. He followed his older brother, Michael, by walking on to the USC football team.
Michael was likewise a receiver who eventually earned a scholarship. Stephen found a niche, too, by holding. He beat out Spurrier's son, Scott, for the job two seasons ago. He was awarded a scholarship during camp last year.
Flint's other siblings, brother David and sister Charlotte, also went to USC. Charlotte still works for the athletic department.
WR Alshon Jeffery (wisdom teeth) practiced some, but still wore a yellow jersey. He did participate in the team sessions ... LBs Shaq Wilson and Qua Gilchrist, LT Jarriel King and RB Kenny Miles all continued to sit with mild hamstring tweaks. TE Justice Cunningham and CB Chris Culliver were back from similar ailments ... Manning's Phillip Dukes, considered the best DT prospect in the state, was at practice Thursday.
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