COLUMBIA — South Carolina fifth-year senior left tackle Kyle Nunn hasn’t played or practiced since the season’s fourth game. He was shut down for the year after battling a back injury, then dealing with a blood clot in his leg.
Coach Steve Spurrier had said the school would apply for a medical hardship waiver and a sixth year of eligibility for Nunn. In order to get a sixth year, a player must miss two seasons because of injury or illness. Nunn redshirted his first season at USC, 2007, but all his official bio says is that he redshirted “to spend time in the weight room.” It does not mention an injury.
Nunn participated in both of USC’s practices Thursday as the Gamecocks prepare for the Jan. 2 Capital One Bowl against Nebraska — his first practices back. There is a chance Nunn, who was a starter before being sidelined, will play in the bowl game. If he does, he will be ineligible to receive a sixth year, according to USC.
Nunn did not speak with reporters after Thursday’s evening practice — the final interview session before Christmas break. The Gamecocks have one more pre-bowl practice in Columbia, today. They depart Tuesday for Orlando, Fla., and hold their first practice there Wednesday morning.
Junior free safety D.J. Swearinger told reporters after Thursday’s practice that he will return to school next season. Five USC juniors submitted paperwork to the NFL’s committee that advises underclassmen on where they might be selected. Strong safety DeVonte Holloman has also said he will return. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and cornerback Stephon Gilmore are USC’s highest-rated juniors. Defensive end Devin Taylor submitted his paperwork, too.
Pelini makes decisions
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini announced two significant personnel moves Thursday: senior starting center Mike Caputo will play in the bowl game and defensive line coach John Papuchis has been promoted to defensive coordinator.
Caputo on Thursday pled guilty to reckless driving in connection with a Dec. 11 incident for which he was originally cited on suspicion of driving under the influence. Lincoln, Neb., police say they found him sleeping in the driver’s seat of a running, parked vehicle.
Police say a preliminary test indicated Caputo’s blood-alcohol level was 0.103 percent. Nebraska’s legal limit is 0.08. Caputo was not charged with DUI, but rather, reckless driving, which is typical in situations with defendants, like Caputo, who have no criminal history, his attorney told the Lincoln Journal Star.
Pelini said in a statement that Caputo “has been disciplined internally over the past couple weeks,” though Pelini did not offer specifics.
Pelini also promoted Papuchis to replace Carl Pelini, the head coach’s older brother, who became Florida Atlantic’s head coach. Carl Pelini will not coach against USC. He had been Nebraska’s defensive coordinator since Bo arrived in 2008.
Former Arizona coach Mike Stoops had said he would consider taking the job if Bo Pelini contacted him. Stoops might be a candidate to replace Ellis Johnson as USC’s defensive coordinator, after Johnson became the head coach at Southern Mississippi.
Waiting game for schedule
The Southeastern Conference said Thursday that its 2012 football schedule is being finalized, but won’t be released until after Christmas. The arrival next season of Texas A&M and Missouri as the league’s 13th and 14th members — the league’s first expansion since USC and Arkansas joined in 1992 — will require significant schedule shuffling.
Missouri will be in the SEC East, so USC will play the Tigers, though it remains unclear where that game will be held in 2012, or who the Tigers’ permanent cross-division opponent will be. USC’s current permanent SEC West opponent is Arkansas. Because of expansion, SEC teams will now play six games against intra-division opponents and two against opponents from the other division — down from three.