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Coaching staff suffers major turnover

The Sports Xchange

--Only a couple weeks after Steve Spurrier said he didn't expect there to be any turnovers in his coaching staff, four coaches and the director of his strength and conditioning program all left. The exodus began with running backs coach Jay Graham who left to return to his alma-mater Tennessee. He was followed by defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson who took over as head coach at Southern Mississippi, special teams coach John Butler who went to Penn State and safeties coach Jeep Hunter who was not retained. Strength and Conditioning Coach Craig Fitzgerald took the same position at Penn State.

Entering the program are running backs coach Everette Sands who served in the same capacity at North Carolina State, defensive backs coach Grady Brown who comes from Southern Mississippi, special teams coach Joe Robinson who served in the same capacity at North Carolina and linebacker coach Kirk Botkin who used to coach at Arkansas but was in the high school ranks last season.

Joe Connolly, who served under Fitzgerald, took over the strength and conditioning program.

--Coach Steve Spurrier had knee replacement surgery immediately following South Carolina's season but is moving around better than ever during spring practice. He will continue to call the team's offensive plays.


WR Ace Sanders -- With Alshon Jeffery leaving a year early, the speedy Sanders appears ready to fill the void as he has caught everything. The second leading receiver in 2010, he is the team's leading option in stretching the field.

DE Jadeveon Clowney -- Despite grabbing eight sacks and being named the SEC and American's top defensive freshman, Clowney admits he had limited knowledge of the play book. While he still has a ways to go in that capacity, he better understands his role.

SPUR DeVonte Holloman -- Moves to the hybrid linebacker/defensive back position where he replaces the graduated Antonio Allen in what may be the Gamecocks most important defensive position. Most within the coaching staff believe it to be Holloman's natural position. He was slated to play there in 2011 but had to return to strong safety due to injuries.

"JD is a young man who has had a lot of things given to him in his life and it is not going to happen that way here. He understands that. He will get better and better." --South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward on standout defensive end Jadeveon Clowney being held out of the team's first spring practice after missing a class.

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