COLUMBIA, S.C. — It was a cold, rainy Tuesday morning, but things were heating up pretty good at the Jerri and Steve Spurrier indoor practice facility.
South Carolina had just completed its first practice since taking a week off for spring break, and as the players filed out, more than a dozen pro scouts and 15 former players were waiting to come in.
Will Muschamp’s first South Carolina team didn’t have many guys who are going to get drafted in April, but the presence of the scouts and the players they would watch represents another small step in the building process.
Right next door, an even bigger step is being made for the future of South Carolina football; dirt is beginning to be moved on the Gamecocks’ $50 million football operations center that is expected to open in 2018. With some upcoming renovations to Williams-Brice Stadium and other projects on the books, Muschamp said there is about $100 million in investments being made into the South Carolina football program.
“Sometimes we get beat up for a lack of tradition, but we’ve never made an investment like this,” Muschamp says. “It’s going to make a huge difference.”
Muschamp has been on campus about 15 months, and in that time a lot has happened. His first team bounced back from a 2-4 start to beat Tennessee and qualify for the Birmingham Bowl, where the Gamecocks lost to USF in overtime.
But in that game, freshman quarterback Jake Bentley — who had his redshirt taken off at the midway point of the season — gave South Carolina fans a reason to smile about the future, throwing for a school bowl-record 390 yards.
Bentley led the emergence of a bunch of young, explosive offensive talent.
Sophomore wide receiver Deebo Samuel caught 59 passes for 783 yards. Tight end Hayden Hurst, a former baseball player, caught 48 passes. Freshman running back Rico Dowdle ran for 764 yards on 113 carries (5.7 average).
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