COLUMBIA, S.C. — OrTre Smith gained some invaluable experience this spring at South Carolina, going through 15 practices, including last weekend’s spring game.
It could pay off when coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper look to throw the former 4-star recruit into game action later this fall.
“Anytime you get in front of people in our stadium and understand it’s a little bit of a different environment — it’s going to be a lot different on September 2nd [in Charlotte, N.C., vs. North Carolina State], too,” Muschamp said. “But I’m really proud of him.
“A midyear guy coming is always difficult. He’s adjusting to the transition very well academically and socially and certainly from a football standpoint.”
Muschamp said Smith was a limited participant for the first “nine or 10” practices as he recovered from an injury suffered during his senior season at Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, S.C.
“He had surgery on his ankle in December and he has recovered from it extremely well. … I’m really pleased with his progress. He’s going to help our football team next year,” Muschamp said.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley feels the same way about the 6-foot-4, 229-pound freshman.
“I think he’ll definitely make a difference on the field,” Bentley said. “He’s got some learning to do, as far as the plays. He’s a bright guy, but asking a guy to come in and learn the offense in three weeks is going to be tough for anybody.
“But he’s a great player. I think he’s really going to help us. He’s a big body. He’s able to use his body really well. I think, as he continues to get stronger and faster, he’s going to be special.”
Bryan Edwards was experiencing the same learning curve at this time last year. The sophomore wide receiver caught 44 passes for 590 yards and 4 touchdowns during his first season with the Gamecocks.
“We have some great coaches, they’re going to bring him along and he’s going to be ready,” Edwards said. “OrTre Smith is a big guy, all you have to do is look at him and see he’s going to be a football player. He’s going to do tremendous things here, but it just takes time. Guys have to adjust and come along.”