COLUMBIA -- As South Carolina's baseball team prepared to practice on a beautiful Thursday afternoon, a buzz started to make its way through the halls at Carolina Stadium.
One of the program's most decorated players, Goose Creek native Justin Smoak, had just hit his first major league home run with the Texas Rangers.
Some veteran Gamecocks played with Smoak, the 11th overall pick in the 2008 draft. Others know him because he's been back to work out at the facility.
The news sent coach Ray Tanner, who saw Smoak turn down the majors out of Stratford and come to USC, scrambling to find a computer.
Once there, he found a replay of Smoak blasting a 1-0 pitch from White Sox right-hander Gavin Floyd into the second deck at Rangers Ballpark during the fourth inning of Texas' 7-5 loss to Chicago in Arlington, Texas.
Interestingly, Floyd was once a Gamecock commit.
Smoak is the school's all-time leader in home runs, RBIs and total bases, among other offensive categories.
Called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City a week ago, Smoak had recorded only one hit -- a double on Monday -- until he connected for the solo shot Thursday. Smoak had drawn several walks, though.
Tanner said he watched the replay of the homer several times. He was looking for something in particular. He wanted to see how Smoak reacted.
"I was seeing if he got a little carried away or if he did it like he belonged," Tanner said. "He did it like he belonged. He put his helmet down, shook a couple of hands and moved on. So I'm impressed."
Tanner called Smoak earlier in the week, the teacher seeing how the former pupil was doing. Despite only having that one hit, Smoak was calm.
"He felt very comfortable to me on the phone," Tanner said. "That was the important thing. I didn't hear any anxiousness in his voice. And that's important at that level."
Reach Travis Haney at firstname.lastname@example.org.