College Sports

Mitchell out of doghouse -- for now

USC's Blake Mitchell practices dropbacks.
USC's Blake Mitchell practices dropbacks.

COLUMBIA -- Quarterback Blake Mitchell was with the team for the first time Monday as South Carolina held its third practice.

Mitchell, the Gamecocks' fifth-year senior starter, was out for the first two practices after violating team rules, spending most of his time running sprints in the corner. He participated in a few dropback drills but didn't play in any of the seven-on-seven passing drills.

He was back Monday.

"I definitely let them down," Mitchell told The Associated Press. "But they know I've been there at the workouts, working hard, busting it. I know they believe in me and respect that."

Mitchell declined an invitation to the team's weekend Media Day and coach Steve Spurrier mentioned he was frustrated with his starter.

"It was disappointing, but he's done some disappointing things before, so it doesn't shock me," Spurrier said at the first practice. "We'll put it behind us here in a couple of days."

Spurrier also no-commented a question on Mitchell's leadership improvement.

"I don't choose to answer that question," he said. "No way to answer that ... I don't know what kind of answer you're looking for."

• LINDSEYS: Linebackers Jasper and Casper Brinkley may be the only set of twins on USC's roster if summer school ends without some improvement from Jordin and Dustin Lindsey.

Spurrier said the Lindseys have been excused from the first week of practice in order to get their grades in line. The system was amended to allow those in academic trouble to get their grades straight first, since it doesn't make much sense to practice for a week and then find out they're ineligible.

Dustin, who was arrested for DUI in March 2006 and later flunked out of school, re-joined the team as a walk-on last season. He spent the year on the scout team and re-earned his scholarship, becoming a backup middle linebacker before tearing his MCL in the spring game.

His physical status was in jeopardy anyway but he may be in deeper water after the summer semester ends this week. Jordin, the defensive MVP of the Liberty Bowl and one of USC's two starting defensive ends with sophomore Eric Norwood, is in the same boat.

Should the two be ineligible, USC is equipped to handle it. The middle linebacker spot is helmed by Jasper Brinkley and the outside spots are led by Casper Brinkley and Rodney Paulk, with reliable backups Yvan Banag, Damien Wright and Marvin Sapp. The Gamecocks are also stacked at defensive end, signing Jonathan Williams, Clifton Geathers, Travian Robertson, Cliff Matthews and Byron McKnight.

• REMEMBER ME?: Rock Hill native and former York Comprehensive High School standout Spencer Lanning has been upgraded to backup place-kicker and punter in his second season.

Lanning redshirted last year but traveled and dressed for every game, backing up starter Ryan Succop at punter while Jordan Dodds was the second-string kicker. With Succop expected to handle all the kicking chores for at least one more season and Dodds leaving the team, Lanning said at Media Day he'd been working more on his punting just in case his number was called.

"Kicker would probably be less likely than punting," he said. "I got my work cut out for me."

Although he never played last season, Lanning said he enjoyed his experience. He was amazed at the constant noise at Florida, overjoyed walking off the field at Clemson and celebrated as hard as the rest of the team at the Liberty Bowl.

"It was great," Lanning said. "I was never worried about pressure on the field or off the field."

Co-special teams coach Fred Chatham said Lanning would remain the backup at each position for the time being.

"We're still trying to decide if Spencer's going to be the backup kicker or punter," Chatham said. "He's athletic enough for either one."

And Succop said he was impressed with Lanning's versatility.

"Spencer's a great kicker and a great punter," he said. "I feel very confident that he can do a very good job."

• I'M HERE: Practice dawned and a familiar face was with the offensive line -- freshman Quintin Richardson.

Richardson, who was arrested for marijuana possession after being stabbed two weeks earlier over the summer, had his supension lifted. He spoke of his mistakes at Media Day and expects to redshirt this year, although he reckoned he could see some playing time at left tackle should something happen to starter Jamon Meredith.

"Really, I'm just pushing for that second-string spot," Richardson said. "Coach says, 'Hey, we need you spending some time to develop,' I can take that time because I respect what coach is telling me."

Richardson was asked about his eventful summer and spoke of how he'd re-examined his off-the-field habits. Asked if he'd learned anything from the summer, Richardson replied, "Yeah. That's a great title to put on it if I had to write a book."

• MOVES: Wide receiver Mike West returned to linebacker, his original position when he signed two years ago. ... Fullback Ryan Brown returned to defensive end. ... Quarterback Zac Brindise, cornerback Cedric Snead and deep snapper Chris Vaughn joined the team as freshman walk-ons. Brindise's older brother, Noah, played and coached under Spurrier at Florida.

• ON THE SHELF: Freshman receiver Joseph Hills will be out at least a week with a sprained knee. Spurrier said Hills was chasing an overthrown pass at the first practice, caught it and tumbled into the hedges surrounding the practice fields.