September 24, 2007

Brinkley lost for season with knee injury

Jasper Brinkley, South Carolina's leading tackler a year ago by a wide margin and considered by many the top middle linebacker in the SEC, has been lost for the season with torn knee ligaments, GamecockCentral has learned.

Brinkley, already battling a high ankle sprain, started Saturday's game at LSU but left the contest during the Tigers' opening series of the game with an apparent knee sprain.

Brinkley returned midway through the second quarter and finished with three tackles in USC's 28-16 loss.

His knee was heavily wrapped in ice when he spoke with reporters after the game and recalled the play on which he was injured.

"I was trying to make a tackle but Emanuel Cook had already made contact," Brinkley said. "I guess the force (of the hit) knocked (the LSU ballcarrier) into my leg. I tried to dodge him but it was too late."

Monday, a MRI on Brinkley knee revealed the severity of the injury.

Brinkley is tied for fourth with Emanuel Cook on the Gamecocks in tackles with 21. He's behind Eric Norwood (25), Casper Brinkley (22) and Rodney Paulk (22).

He will likely be replaced in the starting lineup by juniors Marvin Sapp, the second leading tackler last year, or Dustin Lindsey.

Sapp has 12 tackles in four games this season.

Freshman Melvin Ingram (two tackles) is also available.

Lindsey saw action for a few snaps in the Georgia game but hasn't played since aggravating the knee injury suffered in the spring game.

Jasper Brinkley led USC with 107 tackles in 2006, his first season with the Gamecocks after transferring from Georgia Military College along with Casper, his twin brother.

Brinkley suffered the high ankle sprain running a drill before a pre-season scrimmage.

It's not known whether Brinkley will petition the NCAA for a medical redshirt. He was considered a first-round prospect for next April's NFL Draft but the torn knee ligaments could make teams shy away from selecting the Thomson, Ga. native that high.

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