Gamecocks blend in high-profile transfers

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South Carolina coach Shane Beamer won’t ever turn down someone who can improve his team. He believes he’s added plenty of those players this spring.

The Gamecocks wrapped up spring workouts with the Garnet and Black game on Saturday night. Former Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler, a Heisman Trophy favorite before last season, completed 8 of 10 passes for 79 yards. Wake Forest’s leading rusher the past two seasons, Christian Beal-Smith, ran for 18 yards and the scrimmage’s only rushing touchdown.

Antwane Wells Jr., a record-setting receiver at James Madison, caught three passes for 31 yards.

Ex-North Carolina State defensive end Terrell Dawkins led all defenders with 2 1/2 tackles for loss.

“I’ll continue to say it for a long, long time,” Beamer said. “We’re about competition. The more we can create competition at certain positions, the better.”

Especially on offense, where Beamer hopes to transform a group ranked next to last in yards and points per game in the Southeastern Conference last season.

Beamer and his staff worked the transfer portal to find players for the next step forward after going 7-6 with a bowl win in his head coaching debut. This year, that begins with Rattler, a five-star prospect out of high school who excelled with the Sooners before losing his job in midseason last fall.

Rattler’s past and future teammate, tight end Austin Stogner – he’s not expected on campus until later this spring – should combo up again with the quarterback.

Beal-Smith ran for 1,336 yards and 12 touchdowns the past two seasons. Wells set single-season records for receiving yards and touchdowns a year ago for James Madison.

“We’re really deep in our skill positions,” Rattler said Saturday night. “So that makes my job easier.”

The transfer boost is not all offense. Dawkins had 4 1/2 sacks as a freshman for the Wolfpack two years ago before injuries slowed him.

Most recently, South Carolina got a commitment from coveted Arkansas State wideout Corey Rucker, who had 59 catches for 826 yards and nine touchdowns.

Offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield got the brunt of blame from fans for South Carolina’s problems moving the ball. He’s excited the newcomers have shown leadership along with skill this spring.

Satterfield, also quarterbacks coach, wasn’t sure what to expect from Rattler. He’s found a willing pupil and avid learner – “He’s an elite notetaker,” the coach said – who remembers everything he’s told and shows it on the field.

Rattler’s “personality and competitiveness just keeps rubbing off on the offense,” Satterfield said. “He gives our guys some confidence to go out there and succeed.”

Beal-Smith sees a hunger to improve among his new teammates that reminds him of Wake Forest, which went from 4-5 in 2020 to 11-3 and an ACC Atlantic Division title this past year.

“Good to great,” was the Demon Deacons slogan a season ago. Beal-Smith said that fits the Gamecocks, too.

“A lot of potential,” he said. “We have to build a tight team chemistry, knowing that we can rely on somebody next to us.”

Satterfield said Beal-Smith’s addition (they call him CBS for short) has been a boost for a running back room that lost its two leading rushers in Kevin Harris and ZaQuandre White to the NFL draft.

Beal-Smith has shown leadership and direction to help the Gamecocks younger backs, Satterfield said.

“We’re all tight, all close,” Beal-Smith said. “We’re not going to let each other fail.”

That’s the attitude Beamer, in his second season as coach, wants from everyone he adds, be it as a transfer or right out of high school.

Rattler said he’s learned more about the game in a few months at South Carolina than at any point of his career, including his three, largely successful years with the Sooners. Bigger things are ahead after a successful spring.

“I just feel like we’re way more educated on the offense now,” Rattler said. “Coaches, I feel, trust us more with what we see.”

Vick, Fitzgerald and Suggs among stars on College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 1st time

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Michael Vick, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs are among the college football stars who will be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

The National Football Foundation released Monday a list of 78 players and nine coaches from major college football who are on the Hall of Fame ballot. There also are 101 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions of college football up for consideration.

Vick, who led Virginia Tech to the BCS championship game against Florida State as a redshirt freshman in 1999, is among the most notable players appearing on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

Vick finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1999. He played one season of college football before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. Vick’s professional career was interrupted when he served 21 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting.

Fitzgerald was the Heisman runner-up in 2003 to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. He scored 34 touchdowns in just two seasons at Pitt.

Suggs led the nation in sacks with 24 in 2002 for Arizona State.

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be chosen by the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court and announced in January. Induction into the Atlanta-based hall is the following December.

Alabama freshman DB Mitchell says he wasn’t sure he’d get to play again after arrest

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama defensive back Tony Mitchell said he feared his football career was over after his arrest on a drug charge.

The Crimson Tide freshman said in a video posted Sunday on social media that he knew “something much bigger could have happened.”

A judge in Holmes County, Florida, sentenced Mitchell to three years of probation with a fine and community service on May 24 after Mitchell pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to play football again, but I continued to work out and stay close with the Lord and those who love me unconditionally,” Mitchell said. “During those times, it helped me to keep my mind off it. But when I was by myself looking at social media, what everybody had to say about it, it just felt like it happened again.

“I didn’t sleep at night.”

He was suspended from the Alabama team following the arrest, but Mitchell’s father, Tony Sr., posted on Facebook last week that the defensive back had been reinstated. An Alabama spokesman declined to comment on Mitchell’s status.

Tony Mitchell Sr. shared his son’s video on Facebook, saying it was filmed during a talk to youth.

“I was doing things I knew I shouldn’t to try to fit in,” the younger Mitchell said, “but not everybody’s your friend.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a four-star prospect and the 15th-rated safety in the 247Composite rankings.

He had been charged in March with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell after a traffic stop when authorities said he drove over 141 mph (227 kph) while trying to evade deputies in the Florida Panhandle. A deputy had spotted Mitchell’s black Dodge Challenger traveling 78 mph (125 kph) in a 55 mph (88 kph) zone on a rural highway north of Bonifay.

He also received 100 hours of community service and paid a fine of $1,560.

Mitchell and a passenger were both charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The other man also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.