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November 5, 2004

S&F: Freshmen report with Lou Holtz

USC Coach Lou Holtz sat down with Spurs last week to give his midseason report on the progress of the 2004 signee class.

Eight newcomers have played this season, including two who were injured by the second game and will seek a medical redshirt.

"We decided that, unless there was an urgent need, we would try to redshirt as many in this class as possible," Coach Holtz said. "When you look at it from top to bottom, it's an excellent class. On top of that, they are really, really, good people and they are becoming a close-knit group.

"We said we were going to change the culture. I don't know how long it's going to take but it's changing. I'm talking about the way the kids practice, the way they act, the way they treat one another and this freshman class is a big part of that."

Here's a look at this year's class.

ALBERT ASHCRAFT (6-3, 190), RB, FR. Will redshirt. Scout team. "Albert is going to be a good back. He has height, elusiveness, good speed. He just has to learn to play without the football. He has to learn the speed of the SEC, but he's a talented individual and wonderful young man."

JEREMY BURGESS (6-5, 265), OL, FR. Will redshirt. Scout team. "Jeremy is going to be a good football player here. He's very intense. He wants to be good. He's very durable, very smart, and loves the Gamecocks. I think he has an excellent future as a guard, possibly a center."

JOHN PAUL GILLIS (6-6, 285), OL, FR. Will redshirt. Scout team. "John Paul played in a high school program that predominately threw the football. He needed a redshirt year to gain some weight. He's working hard on the running game but I think he'll make a very fine offensive lineman."

MARQUE HALL (6-5, 305), DL, FR. Has played and is listed on the depth chart behind starter Darrell Shropshire at DT. "Marque has a great upside. He can be as good as he wants to be. He has tremendous talent, great quickness. He has played a lot for a freshman in the SEC and has performed very well. He's a talent."

CHRIS HAMPTON (6-0, 175), DB, FR. Has played. "Chris is very smart. He's been the backup safety to Ko Simpson and he will earn a letter this year. His awareness is very good and I see a really bright future for him."

ANTONIO HEFFNER (6-3, 180), QB, FR. Will redshirt. Scout team. "Antonio will be a very good quarterback. He has a very strong arm. Needs a little work on his throwing motion but he's a very quick athlete. He has the intangibles. He does an excellent job running the scout squad and he travels with the team most of the time."

JONATHAN JOESPH (6-0, 190), DB, JR./TR. Was a starter before suffering an season-ending injury in the first quarter against Georgia. "We really miss Jonathan. He has a chance to be one of the best cornerbacks to ever play here. He's talented, tough, smart and tenacious. There is a possibility that he will get a medical redshirt."

ANTONIO LAMAR (6-1, 240), FB, FR. Will redshirt. Scout team. "Antonio didn't get here until about a week after school started but I want to tell you, he's a fullback. He's a runner and a blocker. He has the size to be a fullback, the quickness to be a running back. He's not as good technique-wise as he needs to be, but he's tough and talented."

DUSTIN LINDSEY (6-5, 225), LB, FR. Has played. "Dustin has been playing on special teams. He's tough, physical and has a natural nose for the football. He does a lot of good things. He will get a lot bigger. He has big upside."

JORDIN LINDSEY (6-4, 228), LB/FB, FR. Has played. "Like his brother, Jordin is tough and physical. He's been playing fullback some, but I think he and his brother are both linebackers. He has really helped us on special teams."

K.T. MAINORD (6-4, 265), DL, FR. Will redshirt. "K.T. is a very talented player. He's a good young man who works very hard every day. Had we not had some seniors on the defensive front, we might have played him, but a year in the weight room will really be good for him."

JAMON MEREDITH (6-6, 255), OL, FR. Played against Vanderbilt before suffering an injury. Scout team. "Jamon has unbelievable feet, he's tough, he puts his face in there and he likes the game. He might be the most pleasant surprise of the whole freshman class. He is just now coming back from his injury and I don't think we'll play him again this season (possible medical redshirt)."

ALONZO MIDDLETON (6-2, 235), LB, FR. Will redshirt. Scout team. "Alonzo is a wonderful young man who has a good future here. He plays hard and has a good nose for the football. I can hardly wait to get him on special teams. He's going to be a good leader at middle linebacker."

GRAYSON MULLINS (6-0, 175), WR, FR. Will redshirt. Scout team. "Grayson is really coming on as a receiver. He's smart, has good quickness and his hands are improving tremendously. He might be our punter when Josh Brown leaves."

MATT RAYSOR (6-5, 275), DL, FR. Will redshirt. Scout team. "Matt is a very talented individual who is a good young man, but he needs to improve his work habits. He is going to be a good one in time."

SIDNEY RICE (6-4, 185), WR, FR. Will redshirt. Scout team. "We had every intention of playing Sidney against Georgia but he hurt his knee in warm-ups. I think he's going to be an excellent receiver. Losing him has hurt us tremendously."

BRANDON SAMUELS (6-3, 232), LB, FR. Signed with USC but hurt his back and did not enroll in school. "We're going to have to wait and see on Brandon. He has a back problem and we'll have to see if they clear him to play and we'll go from there."

KO SIMPSON (6-2, 180), FS, FR. Has played and been a starter. "Ko is just a real special player. What he's done as a freshman is amazing. He runs well and has tremendous instincts for the football. He has the talent to possibly be an All-American here. He's that good."

GURMINDER THIND (6-5, 285), OL, FR. Will redshirt. Scout team. "I think Gurminder has a chance to be a really outstanding guard. He has very good feet and has really improved his understanding of American football. He'll get a little bigger and a lot stronger with this redshirt year."

EVAN SPANOGIANS (6-5, 285), OL, FR. Will redshirt. Scout team. "Evan has been hurt a lot. He had a bad knee during two-a-days, so it would be hard to evaluate him right now, but he does have size and some quickness."

JUSTIN SORENSEN (6-8, 320), OL, FR. Will redshirt. Scout team. "Justin is big young man who I think is going to be an excellent tackle, maybe guard. He's a tough young man and has really made some progress this fall."

JAMES THOMPSON (6-4, 310), OL, FR. Has played. "James is going to be an excellent offensive linemen. He has played with the second unit and played pretty well. He had kind of reached a plateau, but in the last couple of weeks he has really started to progress."

TRENT USHER (6-0, 185), S, FR. Will redshirt. Scout team. "We thought really hard about playing him this year, but we decided to redshirt him. He has such a natural nose for the ball and he has great leadership. If push came to shove, I'd play him at quarterback. He can run, he's got awareness, he loves the game and he has great instincts. He'll be a dandy safety. He frustrates the devil out of our offense on the scout team defense."

JOSH WINCHELL (6-5, 305), OL, FR. Will redshirt. Scout team. "Josh has all the physical talent to be a very, very good center. He needs to improve his work habits and get bigger and stronger, but he has what it takes to be a good player when he decides he wants to be."

STONEY WOODSON (5-11, 175) CB, FR. Will redshirt. Scout team. "Stoney is going to be a good cornerback. We could possibly have played him this year but we decided to redshirt him. Has the speed to be an excellent cover corner."

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