COLUMBIA -- Stephen Garcia might not have made the cover of South Carolina's media guide, but the junior quarterback is one of 60 on the watch list for the Maxwell Award -- one of the national MVP awards.
Garcia threw for 2,862 yards and 17 touchdowns as a sophomore, starting all 13 games for the Gamecocks. Even more is expected of the quarterback this season, and evidently the Maxwell people agreed.
Sophomore Stephon Gilmore is also on a big-time award watch list. He's one of 60 being tracked for the Bednarik Award, given to the top defensive player in the country.
Gilmore had 56 total tackles as a freshman, including six for a loss. He's hopeful of improving upon his one interception. Gilmore did force and recover two fumbles.
Wondering about Wes
If the NCAA's investigation involving tight end Weslye Saunders drags into the season, and Saunders is forced to sit as a precaution, the team's other tight ends have to be ready to pick up for the senior.
Senior captain Pat DiMarco was moved in the spring from fullback to tight end, although he's still playing some fullback, too.
There's been no update on Saunders' status since the NCAA interviewed him in mid-July.
"We expect him to be playing," DiMarco said. "I mean, we're a better team with him. If we don't have him, me and Justice (Cunningham) will have to step up. But hopefully Wes will be able to contribute."
The Gamecocks practiced from 8:30-10:30 a.m. Monday, in a shift from evening practices the first week of camp.
The temperature was probably about the same, but the sun made it feel a lot hotter during the daytime. There's a certain amount of acclimation involved.
"A lot of guys froze up mentally, just because they got a little tired," DiMarco said. "We're going to work on that. We're going to get a couple of mornings in, a couple of nights in, so we're used to everything. … A couple of days, and I'm sure we'll adapt."
Some have pointed out the day practices' importance, considering the Sept. 11 kickoff time for the Georgia game is noon.
DiMarco and senior defensive end Cliff Matthews are the team's two returning captains. But there might be one or two more added, depending on a team vote in the coming days.
"We'll probably announce it here in the next week or two," DiMarco said. "We'll have a couple of guys to help back us up."
Some possibilities might be junior linebacker Shaq Wilson, Garcia, senior kicker Spencer Lanning and sophomore center T.J. Johnson.
Reports surfaced Monday afternoon that redshirt freshman WR DeMario Bennett was considering a transfer. However, one team source says he's expected to stay. … The Gamecocks will hold their first scrimmage this morning, but it's closed to the public and media. Steve Spurrier said, through a release, that it'll be for the "young guys." … Spurrier chose not to make himself available to reporters after practice, instead scooting out a side gate on a golf cart.
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