South Carolina linebacker Skai Moore, receiver/returner Pharoh Cooper and kicker Elliott Fry were selected to the All-SEC Freshman Team on Thursday.
Moore blossomed into one of the Gamecocks' top defensive players during his rookie season, leading the team with 51 tackles. He also added 3.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, a fumble recovery and a half sack.
Cooper was selected to the team as an "all-purpose player," a testament to his versatility. The freshman scored a receiving, rushing and passing touchdown this season, and he also filled a void returning kickoffs and punts. As a receiver, Cooper caught three passes for 54 yards.
"That kid's a ball player, Pharoh Cooper," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said after his team defeated Clemson on Nov. 30. "He's going to really be something before he leaves here. True freshman, he can run kickoffs, punts, run out of the backfield, catch passes, throw passes. He's an all-around ball player that we finally learned he was that good by the midseason."
Fry made 15-of-18 (83 percent) field goals this season, his longest coming from 45 yards. He also made 50-of-51 extra-point attempts and finished fifth in the conference with 104 points. The honor completed a magnificent first season for the walk-on, which began when he become South Carolina's first freshman starting kicker since 1996.
Sophomore cornerback Ahmad Christian announced on his Twitter account Thursday he will transfer from South Carolina.
"South Carolina been fun but i have decided i want to be sumwhere closer to home thanks for all the support and ppl behind me love yall," Christian tweeted.
Christian may be best remembered for giving up a crushing fourth-quarter reception to Tennessee receiver Marquez North in October, setting up the Vols' game-winning field goal on the final play.
Given time, the youngster likely would have developed into an integral player at the Gamecocks' secondary.
South Carolina is expected to lose its two starting cornerbacks after the season. Senior Jimmy Legree and junior Victor Hampton have a future in the NFL. Christian was third among cornerbacks with 18 tackles, two pass breakups and a forced fumble.
Without Christian, South Carolina's cornerback position lost considerable depth. The Gamecocks' only return three scholarship cornerbacks: junior Ronnie Martin, redshirt freshman Rico McWilliams and true freshman Ali Groves. None of the three have much experience.
South Carolina currently only has one cornerback in its 2014 class, three-star prospect Al Harris Jr.
"hope yall kno i would be the startin corner next year by far lmao (sic)," Christian tweeted earlier this week.
SEC popularity still rising
The average television rating for the league's games on CBS this season was the highest since the network began broadcasting a primarily SEC schedule in 2001.
CBS said Thursday that its coverage averaged a 4.5 rating and 10 share, up 15 percent from last year.
Large audiences for the Alabama-Texas A&M and Alabama-Auburn games boosted the numbers. SEC teams have won seven straight national titles, and Auburn is going for the eighth in a row.
Ratings represent the percentage of homes with televisions tuned into a program, and shares measure the percentage of TVs in use at the time.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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