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August 11, 2010

Strickland Grateful For Chance

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It seems to be an annual rite of fall, or perhaps it's just the note that you know will be written because it's a Steve Spurrier-coached team.

No matter how far down the depth chart he may be, a quarterback will always have a good day, catch the Head Ball Coach's eye and begin to get more chances.

Seth Strickland, welcome to the spotlight.

"I'm real grateful he gave me an opportunity to be on the field here," South Carolina's sophomore walk-on quarterback said on Wednesday. "His offense, just to learn it all, it's just wonderful."

Strickland didn't hear how complimentary Spurrier was of him after Tuesday's scrimmage. The Laurens native just moved into a new apartment and doesn't have his cable connection lined up yet.

"He probably played as well as any of them, to tell you the truth," Spurrier said on Tuesday, after Strickland was 5-of-9 for 40 yards. "So I told coach (G.A.) Mangus, the walk-on kid, Seth, we're going to start giving him more snaps. He's a kid who can think. Playing quarterback nowadays, if everybody can throw pretty decently, it's the guy that can make the best decisions. So we got a new guy in the mix -- Seth Strickland."

Told of the glowing report, Strickland modestly smiled.

"Got to make the most of your reps," Strickland said. "We've got a lot of quality quarterbacks on the roster. Put you in there, just got to think about what you got to do."

The quarterback depth chart has considerably cleared up since the spring, with Reid McCollum, Aramis Hillary and Zac Brindise moving on. Strickland returned as one of five signal-callers and the only one not on scholarship.

Still, he is competing for the third-string job with redshirt freshman Andrew Clifford and true freshman Dylan Thompson, and with Spurrier in charge, no one can definitely say he won't have a shot at the backup spot. Although Connor Shaw has the No. 2 slot now, he's also a true freshman -- if nothing else, Strickland has a full year of running the scout team under his belt, as opposed to the handful of practices that Shaw has.

But to judge a spot now would be strictly hearsay. Strickland is happy for the compliment and the opportunity.

"Even if one guy leaves, we're always bringing in quality guys," Strickland said. "Nothing's ever going to be handed to you. Got to keep working hard."

He's familiar with that.

After completing his career at Laurens High School, Strickland headed to Gardner-Webb before he realized it wasn't for him. He returned home during the first semester, enrolled at USC-Union and got himself straightened out, then decided to transfer to USC.

"Because my brother came here," Strickland said. "I like Columbia, I'm real comfortable here. Then I kind of got an itch -- 'Let me see if I can try to walk on to the team.'"

He showed up for walk-on tryouts and made the cut, spending the 2009 season on the scout team. Then when 2010 rolled around, Strickland found himself as one of a pared-down list of QBs.

Even with Spurrier's endorsement having just been revealed to him, Strickland seemed even-keeled on Wednesday. Strickland knows the other side of being a Spurrier QB -- relentless perfectionism is required.

But the chance is there. Just got to keep flinging spirals.

"I just wanted to come out here and give it a shot. I love football," Strickland said. "I knew it wouldn't be easy, I knew anything wasn't going to be handed to me. Just trying to come out, every opportunity I'm given, try to make the most of it."

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