Lou Holtz thinks freshmen belong on the bench, but this fall at South Carolina might prove an exception to the rule.
"When we have freshmen playing, it's because the upperclassmen gave them the opportunity," said Holtz. "We're going to unfortunately have some freshmen play because we have some upperclassmen (who) didn't take advantage of the opportunities that spring practice and the winter program provided them with."
Freshmen report to the South Carolina campus today and, if Holtz's words are any indication, several will be vying for key roles in preparation for the Sept. 4 opener at North Carolina State.
Holtz said North Augusta's Brian Elam will get a good look at the cornerback spot, likely the biggest question mark on the squad.
Sophomores Kevin House and Sheldon Brown, both reserves in 1998, were listed as starters at the position following spring drills. Senior Arturo Freeman was expected to see action at cornerback, but last month's season-ending injury to safety O'Rondai Cox forced Freeman to shift back to free safety.
Holtz said two other incoming freshmen, Michale Ages and Tim Yarn, will compete for playing time at cornerback.
"You hate to line up with a freshman at corner, but that's what we're going to do," said Holtz, who inherits a defense that gave up 19 touchdowns through the air last season and intercepted five passes. "I wish we had other options, but we don't. I think we'll be all right."
Another freshman, fullback Andrew Pinnock, figures to see extensive action the next few weeks. Assistant coaches have said last year's top two fullbacks, Antione Nesmith and North Augusta's Steve Mixon, should play more tailback this season because of their lack of size.
Pinnock arrived on campus at 260 pounds, and senior running back Boo Williams said he expects him to stay that way.
"He's a rolling bowling ball," Williams said. "He's just a mass of muscle who can run. Most fullbacks should be in the 235-pound, 240-pound range, but Pinnock is an exception to the rule. He can run with the weight, so the coaches told him to keep it on."
The incoming freshmen will meet with the coaches today and undergo physicals before beginning practice Friday.
Clemson's freshmen reported Wednesday and begin practice Friday. The Tigers' and Gamecocks' varsity report Sunday.
Georgia's freshmen report Friday, then the Bulldogs' varsity will report on Tuesday. Georgia Tech's freshmen report Friday, the varsity Tuesday.
Larry Williams can be reached at (706) 823-3645 or firstname.lastname@example.org.