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May 13, 2009

Gamecocks' Scruggs out to make name for himself

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - Lamar Scruggs doesn't carry the same name recognition among South Carolina fans as Calhoun County star Alshon Jeffery, but he plans to quickly change that.

Scruggs, like Jeffery a four-star prospect and one of the top 50 high school wide receivers in the nation last fall, excelled as a pass catcher in a run-dominated offense at Fletcher High School, located a couple of miles from the Atlantic Ocean in this town about 25 miles east of Jacksonville.

"He's definitely a guy I want to see on the field," South Carolina wide receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. said earlier this week. "I'm hoping he plays next year. I like his attitude. He has something about him that wants to go play."

Although he didn't run routes in a pass-happy offense, Scruggs' lethal combination of size (6 feet 3, 212 pounds) and speed (he runs the 40 in less than 4.5 seconds) caught the attention of numerous major college coaches.

"My biggest strength is my body frame," Scruggs said. "I can get myself between the ball and the defender. Fletcher is really a running school, so every time they threw me the ball, I came down with it. I think I can make plays."

Half the schools in the SEC tendered Scruggs an offer, including Florida, Tennessee, Auburn and Ole Miss, but he chose to sign with the Gamecocks.

"I really like the coaches there [at South Carolina]," Scruggs said. "Coach [Steve] Spurrier is down to earth.

"I know they throw the ball. I feel I can come into their offense and make a big impact right away. I'm looking forward to it."

The passion and energy of South Carolina fans was also a significant factor in Scruggs' decision, he said.

"One thing I noticed when I was there is they love their football," Scruggs said. "They have great fans. That was a big factor. Coach told me one season they didn't win a game but every game was sold out. That opened my eyes a lot. We have some really dedicated fans. It should be really fun playing in front of our crowd."

South Carolina is also located about 70 miles from the city Scruggs considers his second home. Scruggs spent most of his youth in Augusta, Ga., before his family relocated to Jacksonville Beach four years ago. But Scruggs still has a significant number of relatives residing in the Augusta area.

"I like the people there in South Carolina and I felt at home," he said. "It was a good place for me."

Scruggs hopes to enroll at South Carolina later this month in time for the start of summer school, but Spurrier Jr. said all the necessary paperwork hasn't been processed yet.

"I'm trying to get him up here in June," Spurrier Jr. said. "We're still trying to figure out the semantics of graduating and all that. If we can get him there in June for Summer A, we'll do it. But it's easier said than done with the way the admissions process works. You have to have all the transcripts and paperwork in."

Thus, if Spurrier Jr. has to wait another four weeks or so for Scruggs' arrival at South Carolina, he'll do it. He expects Scruggs and Jeffery to contribute quickly and compete for spots on the depth chart.

"I'm bringing both those guys in to play," Spurrier said.

Scruggs wants to play right away, as well. He's spent his time since National Signing Day working out and preparing for the physical and emotional rigors of major college football.

"I've been working hard in the weight room and tossing the ball around," Scruggs said. "... The coaches told me they're going to throw me in there and see what I've got. They're going to throw the ball my way. I just have to go out there and play my hardest and hopefully I'll be on the field."

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