South Carolina Gamecocks

South Carolina DB Ali Groves takes medical hardship, will remain on scholarship

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The injury-plagued career of a member of South Carolina’s secondary has officially come to an end.

USC officials confirmed to The State that Ali Groves will not return to the Gamecocks football team. The defensive back has taken a medical hardship waiver, making him ineligible to suit up again for the Gamecocks.

The Georgia native will, though, remain on scholarship. He’s expected to graduate later this year with a degree in business administration.

A three-star member of USC’s 2013 recruiting class, Groves was rated as the No. 47 safety in the country. Groves sustained a right shoulder injury his true freshman season, with the injury lingering over the next couple of seasons as well.

This past spring, Groves, who didn’t play a down for the Gamecocks, was moved from cornerback to safety. Twice in his career, Groves was named to the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll.

After leaving South Carolina, QB Connor Mitch to start over at James Madison

South Carolina 2014 spring football game
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Just a little over a month after leaving South Carolina, Connor Mitch has found himself a new college football home.

On Twitter Monday, Mitch revealed that he will continue his collegiate playing career at James Madison.  As the Dukes play at the FCS level, and Mitch himself is a recent graduate of USC, the quarterback will be eligible to play immediately in 2016.

Additionally, Mitch will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Mitch started the first two games of the 2015 season for the Gamecocks before a hip injury and shoulder injury knocked him out for the remainder of the year.

Part of a five-man competition in the spring, Mitch fell behind the current front-runner, freshman Brandon McIlwain, as well as a pair of quarterbacks injured for portions of the spring, senior Perry Orth and sophomore Lorenzo Nunez.  That positioning on the depth chart apparently led to his mid-May transfer.

During his time in Columbia, Mitch completed 15-of-35 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown. He also added 48 yards and another touchdown on 17 carries.

Ex-Florida DB J.C. Jackson won’t head to South Carolina after all

LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 29: A football helmet on the field for the South Carolina Gamecocks against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on September 29, 2012 in Lexington, Kentucky.    (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
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It appears Will Muschamp‘s Columbia reunion with one of his former Florida players won’t come to fruition as first thought.

Last months, reports surfaced that J.C. Jackson could be headed to South Carolina to join Muschamp’s first-year Gamecocks football program.  However, 247Sports.com is now reporting that Jackson will not enroll at USC.

“Sources indicate Jackson is not eligible to transfer to the Gamecocks in a ruling that’s beyond South Carolina’s control,” the site wrote.

Instead, sources indicated to the recruiting website that Jackson will likely end up at Maryland.  The Terps’ first-year coach, D.J. Durkin, was Muschamp’s defensive coordinator with the Gators when Jackson was a defensive back with the team.

Facing three felony charges in connection to an armed home invasion robbery, Jackson “transferred” from UF in May of last year.  He was ultimately acquitted on all of those charges, and is currently enrolled at a California junior college.

A four-star member of the Gators’ 2014 recruiting class, Jackson was rated as the No. 21 corner in the country; the No. 37 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 243 recruit overall by Rivals.com.  He played in the 2014 opener, but missed the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury.  Exiting the spring, Jackson was expected to take a starting job into summer camp in 2015 prior to the legal issues arising.

If Jackson lands at Maryland, or any other FBS program for that matter, he would be eligible to play immediately in 2016.  The redshirt sophomore would then have three seasons of eligibility at his disposal.

Former ‘Cocks QB Connor Shaw wants to coach for his alma mater

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 16:  Connor Shaw #14 of the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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During his time as South Carolina’s quarterback Connor Shaw was the Gamecocks’ proverbial coach on the field. In the future he wants to be one of the ‘Cocks literal coaches on the sidelines.

Shaw currently holds a roster spot with the Cleveland Browns, but when his time playing the game comes to an end, South Carolina’s all-time wins leader says he’d like to start coaching it.

“I’m a coach at heart,” Shaw told The State. “I grew up in a coach’s family. I enjoy it and I’m good at instructing kids. It’s a lot of fun. We have a lot of camps that we scholarship in underprivileged kids that really don’t ever get a chance to do that, and you can just tell it lights their day up. I have kind of always envisioned that all my life, seeing myself as a coach, but we’ll see.

“I’d love to end up at my alma mater one day.”

Shaw is likely competing with Austin Davis and Josh McCown to hold on to a chair in a quarterback room that also features high-profile signee Robert Griffin III and draft pick Cody Kessler. In fact, Shaw’s coaching career could begin sooner rather than later.

“We have five QBs so reps are rare, but I’m taking advantage of the reps I get,” said Shaw. “It’s still a good room to be in.”

Shaw piloted South Carolina to a school-record 27 wins and a perfect 17-0 home mark from 2010-13 while firing 480 completions on 733 attempts (65.5 percent) for 6,074 yards (8.8 yards per attempt) with 56 touchdowns against 16 picks.

Auburn’s Roc Thomas officially becomes fourth FBS transfer to sign with Jacksonville State

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 6: Running back Roc Thomas #9 of the Auburn Tigers looks to maneuver around linebacker Christian Tago #4 of the San Jose State Spartans on September 6, 2014 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. Auburn defeated San Jose State 59-13.  (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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Roc Thomas‘ journey from one university in Alabama to another in the state is officially complete.

In May, reports began to surface that Thomas would be transferring from Auburn to Jacksonville State.  On the last day of last month, the Tigers confirmed that they had given the running back a release from his scholarship.

Earlier this week, the FCS program confirmed Thomas’ addition to the roster.

Because JSU plays at the FCS level, Thomas will be eligible to play immediately in 2016.  Counting this season, he has two years of eligibility remaining, plus a redshirt season.

“Roc is a great addition for our team,” a statement from JSU head coach John Grass, who was also Thomas’ high school coach, began. “We lost some key players at running back and it’s really good to get him in and help shore up the depth at that position.

“He is a great player that is returning home. He was a 5-star running back that is an explosive player. He is familiar with our system after playing for me in high school, and I expect him to flourish in it here at JSU.”

A five-star member of AU’s 2014 recruiting class, Thomas was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 4 back in the country; the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Alabama; and the No. 23 player overall on that recruiting website’s composite board.

Thomas played in 19 games the past two seasons on The Plains, starting five of those contests.  He totaled 475 yards and three touchdowns on 86 carries.  In the passing game, the rising junior contributed 227 yards and a touchdown on 17 receptions.

In addition to Thomas, the Gamecocks have also added FBS transfers in offensive lineman Darius Anderson (East Carolina), cornerback Al Harris Jr. (South Carolina) and wide receiver Kevin Spears (LSU).