Hale McGranahan/SEC Country
South Carolina Gamecocks junior quarterback Jake Bentley sits just outside the program's top 10 in career passing yards with 4,214.

South Carolina QB talks spring practice; Gamecocks DE focused on now, not NFL

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‘A real laid-back guy’

South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Jake Bentley is already praising new quarterbacks coach Dan Werner.

“I don’t think Coach Werner has raised his voice one time. He’s a real laid-back guy. He really just observes everything and is a very detailed guy, very detail-oriented in the meeting rooms,” the junior signal caller said. “He’s very smart. But at practice, he kind of sits back and watches what we do and then really breaks it down in the film room. Obviously, he coaches on the field, too.”

Werner was hired by South Carolina in January following former quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator Kurt Roper’s dismissal in December.

Talking about practice

Bentley is the only South Carolina quarterback with starting experience, but he’s not the only one getting valuable experience in the Gamecocks spring practices.

“In spring, I think that’s the kind of overall mindset of everything — trying to get as many reps to as many guys as possible,” he said. “Obviously, me and [Michael Scarnecchia] are probably getting most of the reps, [but] Jay [Urich] and Dakereon [Joyner] get their fair share, too. And they’re getting better every day. They always get reps every practice. I don’t know the exact number, but they’re definitely getting their equal reps and opportunities to show what they have and to get better.”

The junior quarterback completed 62.2 percent of his passes for 2,794 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2017.

Right here, right now

Despite leading the Gamecocks in tackles for loss (13) and sacks (6) as a sophomore, defensive end/outside linebacker D.J. Wonnum isn’t distracted by the lure of the NFL.

“I’m not really looking to that pro football stuff right now,” Wonnum said. “I’m just playing for the Gamecocks right now, so eventually I feel like that will come.”

The former Stephenson High School (Stone Mountain, Ga.) standout earned SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors twice in 2017.

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Back on track

Redshirt junior defensive end Shameik Blackshear is ready to get back on the field after a series of injuries limited him in his first three seasons in Columbia.

“I feel like I kind of lost the trust of everybody,” he told The State’s Josh Kendall. “Everybody was expecting me to come in and be a huge asset to the team, and I had many setbacks.”

“It just takes time for me to build everybody’s trust and let them know I am back on track and ready to play ball. It’s been very frustrating for me coming in as a top recruit and an All-American, this and that, and not seeing the time I wanted to, and this is going on my fourth year.”

The 6-foot-5, 267-pound defensive lineman was rated as the No. 147 overall prospect, according to the 247Sports composite, when he signed with the Gamecocks in 2015.

5-star visit

Five-star cornerback and 2019 prospect Chris Steele is planning to visit South Carolina this weekend.

He’s rated as the No. 28 overall prospect for 2019, per the 247Sports composite. Southern Cal is believed to be the team to beat.

To the hardwood

South Carolina men’s basketball coach Frank Martin visited 3-star shooting guard T.J. Moss on Tuesday, according to SportsTalkSC’s Phil Kornblut.

The 2018 prospect plans to take an official visit to see the Gamecocks next week.

Moss boasts additional offers from Arizona State, Florida, TCU and more.

Running back home

Former South Carolina running back and Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers met with the Gamecocks’ current running back corps on Wednesday.

The Duluth, Ga., native led the country in rushing in 1980 with 1,781 yards, earning him the Heisman Trophy. Rogers was later picked No. 1 overall by the New Orleans Saints in the 1981 NFL Draft.

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