South Carolina opened preseason camp Wednesday, and it didn't take coach Steve Spurrier long to proclaim the Gamecocks a faster football team.
One of the reasons why?
Prized freshman defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who was the No. 1 prospect in the country last year and put on a show for the thousands of fans who showed up for the Gamecocks' open night practice.
"All the coaches were really noticing the difference in team speed with the addition of a lot of players and the conditioning work of coach [Craig Fitzgerald]," Spurrier said. "We have a fast team and hopefully we have a team that can really play well."
Everybody was raving about Clowney's quick first step and his burst off the line during pass-rushing drills. Granted, the Gamecocks were just in shorts, but it's obvious that he's going to be a factor rushing the passer this season. His teammates said he's been dialed in all summer and is already way ahead of where most freshman defensive linemen are at this point.
Spurrier joked that there was no slowing him down.
"He plays too fast out here," Spurrier said. "We have to teach him practice speed. He was going right around Will Sport. ... We try to let the quarterbacks throw the ball in these drills with no pads on. We can’t slow Jadeveon down. We’ll have to take him out of the game to slow him down."
Bruce Ellington, the starting point guard on the Gamecocks' basketball team last season, is another reason Spurrier likes the speed on this team. Ellington, who wasn't able to go through spring practice, is a natural playmaker and should contribute at both receiver and on special teams. Others Spurrier mentioned in terms of upgrading the speed were Damiere Byrd, Shamier Jeffery and Shon Carson.
Junior receiver Alshon Jeffery didn't practice after being involved in a car accident on Tuesday. Jeffery suffered some whiplash and a sore back, and Spurrier hopes he will be back in a couple of days.
Here's a link to South Carolina's official website, which includes video interviews with Spurrier, assistant head coach for the defense Ellis Johnson and several players.