Spurrier impressed with play of Shaq Roland
When freshman wide receiver Shaq Roland joined the Gamecock football team last year as the No. 1 recruit in the state of South Carolina, he brought with him a myriad of expectations. With a year of football under his belt and some big shoes to fill at the wide receiver position, those expectations have nowhere to go but up.
“I hear it, but I don’t listen to it,” Roland said. “I just try to do what I do.”
Head coach Steve Spurrier was impressed with what the sophomore was doing on Thursday, saying Roland had his “best practice since he’s been a Gamecock.”
Roland ended last season with five receptions for 80 yards and one touchdown after playing in 11 games for USC, none of which he started. The true freshman from Lexington, S.C., admitted that there was a learning curve as he adjusted from high school to college, citing the speed of every individual player as the biggest difference.
With the Gamecocks well underway with their spring practice schedule, Roland will look to use the time to improve on some of the aspects of his game that limited his playing time during his first year.
“I’m just watching film and just watching the little things,” Roland said. “I think if I get better every day, everything else will pan out.”
Another receiver vying to fill the holes left by Ace Sanders is redshirt sophomore Shamier Jeffery. Entering his third year in the program, Jeffery insists that he has matured and this year will have a different tone.
“Last year I had an ‘I don’t care’ attitude,” Jeffery said. “But this year, I’m more focused, more positive about everything, so I’m just going to keep working hard and hopefully I’ll get the chance to play on the field.”
Jeffery said he has had little time to communicate with his older brother, former South Carolina receiver and current Chicago Bears wideout Alshon Jeffery, throughout the offseason, but Shamier said his brother continues to motivate him to achieve the level of success that the former Gamecock great has.
Improved route running has become a theme throughout the spring for the new USC receiving corps, as both Roland and Jeffery have cited a need to improve the skill. Along with working on his technical skills, Jeffery has also been working throughout the offseason on developing a connection with redshirt junior quarterback Dylan Thompson as the two prepare to make major contributions to the Gamecock offense during the fall.
As the spring wears on, USC coaches hope to develop a better idea of who will be on the receiving end of Gamecock passes this upcoming fall.
“All the guys out here know that Ace is gone,” Roland said. “There’s a spot open, and everybody is working hard to just compete and get the spot.”