COLUMBIA — With the idea floating around that at least one South Carolina player quit on his team, here's a submission to offset Emanuel Cook's early flight to the NFL.
Senior kicker Ryan Succop has been playing since early October with a sports hernia, or a small tear in his abdominal wall. The only way to repair it is surgery.
And when does it hurt most?
"Kicking is the thing that bothers it most," Succop said. "I can get out and jog a little bit, and it's not too bad. Just kicking is when it's painful."
So, it hurts when he does what he's on scholarship to do.
"Basically," he said.
Compare that to Cook, who checked out mentally (and academically) a couple of months back, according to coach Steve Spurrier.
Succop's injury first came to light when his usually accurate leg started going errant.
Succop missed four of five field goals Oct. 11 at Kentucky. Succop had missed four field goals total in each of the past two seasons.
"I couldn't really help what happened with my sports hernia. It's still painful. It's just there," he said. "It's something I've got to get through and deal with. I've got one more game to get through."
Succop hit 19 of 28 field goals this year, a decent 18 of 23 (78 percent) if you take out that miserable day at UK.
Succop will have surgery a couple of days after the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl. He says recovery should take him about six weeks, giving him just enough time to prepare for NFL workouts.
He says kicking professionally has always been a goal of his.
Back to the future
One of special teams coordinator Ray Rychleski's goals coming in was to relieve Succop of his punting duties so that he could focus on kicking.
Well, with Succop graduating and freshman Ryan Doerr gone, that leaves Spencer Lanning as the heir apparent — to punt and kick.
So, USC might be right back in the same situation.
"Oh, Spencer's a great punter and place-kicker," Succop said. "I've got all the confidence in the world that Spencer can come in and replace me, just like he's done really good job punting this year. He's a good kid and works hard. He'll do great."
Lanning averaged 42 yards a kick in 46 punts this season. Six were fair-caught, seven went more than 50 yards and 13 were downed inside the 20-yard line.
Redshirt freshman cornerback Jamire Williams has left the team, USC officials confirmed Wednesday afternoon.
Williams, who will transfer down to an FCS school, saw action in five games this season, but never played any meaningful downs despite a lack of depth at the position.
The highly touted recruit from Jacksonville, Fla., becomes the second player from that top-10 recruiting class to leave this fall. Earlier, Columbia native Mark Barnes opted to transfer to Florida A&M.
Spurrier had bragged in the summer months that everyone from that class was still on campus.
Spurrier returned Tuesday from a Heisman banquet in New York. And he returned taken with winner Sam Bradford's affection for his school.
"Sam Bradford said he grew up always wanting to play at Oklahoma. He said he considered it an honor to play at the University of Oklahoma," Spurrier said. "I told our guys ... I said, 'All you guys, I hope you can say it's an honor to play for the University of South Carolina.' Because it should be. You've got to look at it that way. Hopefully, our guys will represent our school in a first-class manner at this bowl game."
Bradford won the award Saturday, becoming the second sophomore to ever win it. Last year's winner, Florida's Tim Tebow, was the first.
— Travis Haney
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