COLUMBIA -- Blake Mitchell must have liked the view from the sidelines last season. He was there again for Saturday's first practice.
South Carolina opened its practice to the public for its first team drill of 2007 and a sizable crowd got to see several highlight-reel plays and stars in the making. They also got to see Mitchell, the Gamecocks' fifth-year senior and projected starting quarterback, isolated with five other players in the corner, running wind sprints.
The group's transgression was a violation of team and/or university policy, earning them a trip to the doghouse as the season got underway. Coach Steve Spurrier said he was disappointed in Mitchell, who was suspended for a game last year and sat out for six and a half more games before returning for a career-best stretch, including the MVP award at the Liberty Bowl.
"We had several players who were out of practice," Spurrier said. "They'll be out one more night. We've got a few who may be out five days."
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Mitchell was joined by cornerbacks Carlos Thomas and Chris Hail, defensive tackles Kenrick Ellis and Terrence Campbell and tailback Bobby Wallace. Two more players, twins Jordin and Dustin Lindsey, are also on the list but neither was at practice.
Mitchell is expected to re-join the team after sitting out the next practice. The Lindseys may be out for longer.
"Hopefully, they'll be back by the end of next week," Spurrier said, refusing to clarify the reason beyond a violation of rules. "They'll be out for a while."
Jordin was the defensive MVP of the Liberty Bowl and a projected starter at defensive end. Dustin, a linebacker who's been in and out of trouble during his USC career, wouldn't have been able to practice because he's rehabbing from a blown-out knee suffered at the spring game.
"I can't really speak on that right now," said tailback Cory Boyd on Mitchell's absence. "Blake has some things he has to do, and we look forward to having him out there."
Other than that, the Gamecocks were mostly intact, losing transferring players Dakota Walker and Matt Raysor Friday and finding out freshman Arkee Smith did not meet USC admission criteria, nixing him for the season. A festive crowd -- which even included a just-married couple, complete in bridal gown and suit -- watched the other players run light drills as they practiced in shorts and helmets.
The practice also featured offensive lineman Quintin Richardson, who had been suspended after being arrested for marijuana possession over the summer. Richardson has rejoined the team although he has not appeared in court.
n NOTES: The Gamecocks are still awaiting word on recruit Akeem Auguste, who has not been admitted to school but is on the roster. Should he not make it, he would join Smith, Michael Bowman, Antonio Allen and Eric Baker on the casualty list. ... Recruit Melvin Ingram has qualified and is with the team but was not at practice. He was attending the funeral of an uncle.