Wando alum Parker White challenging for starting kicker
COLUMBIA – Talk about a good first impression.
Parker White didn’t even play football last year. A two-time Special Teams Player of the Year at Wando High, the big-legged kicker was a regular student until he walked onto the squad for spring practice.
Now he could be South Carolina’s starting place-kicker.
“Parker White hit a game-winning field goal from about 53, 54 yards, which was impressive,” coach Will Muschamp said Saturday, after the Gamecocks’ second scrimmage of the preseason. “Parker’s kind of come out of the woodwork as far as a guy that in spring, we were sort of looking at him as a guy that we felt was going to be our kickoff guy, and certainly has done a nice job in camp to this point, but he hit a pressure field goal to win the game with one second left on the clock.
“Parker went out and hit it right down the middle, so we’re definitely in a competition.”
White, standing 6-foot-4 and a shade under 200 pounds, looked to be on the field this year but as a kickoff specialist. Alexander Woznick, the redshirt freshman who dazzled at Eastside High and booted three field goals of at least 47 yards in the spring game, figured to win the task of replacing career leading scorer Elliott Fry.
Muschamp made it clear. With two weeks before boarding the bus to Charlotte to take on NC State in the season-opener, the Gamecocks’ kicking competition isn’t settled.
As for the rest of the day, Muschamp wasn’t as pleased as the first scrimmage.
“I thought we were a little bit sloppy today. Just a little bit sloppy for me,” he said. “Communication, just the little things we need to clean up. We’ve got a lot of work to do on South Carolina before we even turn to our first game.”
The Gamecocks enter a week where they’ll give the players two full days off from practice, one from being around the stadium entirely. They will have an open practice at 7:35 p.m. on Monday, with gates at the stadium opening at 6 p.m.
“I hope we see a team that’s functioning at a high level and playing fast on the field,” Muschamp said. “I know they’ll be excited to get in front of the fan base.”
Red cross report
The Gamecocks are getting thinner and thinner at defensive back.
Redshirt freshman Chris Smith’s football career is likely over. He has a hip problem that can’t be repaired with surgery. “He’s most likely headed for a medical,” Muschamp said. “Long-term, we felt like that might be the best situation for him.”
If Smith takes the medical, he may stay in school on full scholarship but will be done with football. The scholarship would not count against the NCAA limit.
Freshman Tavyn Jackson, who Muschamp has been high on, has a “serious” hamstring issue and is probably going to be out for 2-3 weeks. He looks unlikely to play in the season-opener, but he’ll have to play this year instead of redshirting due to the depth at the position.
Senior D.J. Smith (shoulder stinger) was hurt during the scrimmage but should be back at practice on Monday. Steven Montac (right foot) will get out of his walking boot next week and Muschamp hopes to have him back for NC State.
Other injuries weren’t serious. Receiver Randrecous Davis (groin) and running back C.J. Freeman (ACL tear last year) should return this week. Receiver Shi Smith (hamstring) and left tackle Malik Young (shoulder) should practice on Monday.
Making the grade
Muschamp credited academic advisor Maria Hickman for her work after linebacker Skai Moore finished his last exam Saturday. He joined Ulric Jones and D.J. Park as graduate players on this year’s team, and there are another eight on track to graduate in December.
Freshman offensive lineman Jordon Carty cleared admissions and will enroll at USC on Thursday. He was the last member of the recruiting class to get to school.
Carty will practice this year but it would be difficult for him to play after missing all of preseason camp. He is most likely headed for a redshirt.