COLUMBIA - One has to search meticulously - nearly line by line - through South Carolina’s Outback Bowl media guide in order to find any mention of Shamier Jeffery.
Yes, he was listed on USC’s roster, but that was it. He had no personal bio like most of the players, even the guys who played sparingly on special teams, such as punter Patrick Fish.
When turning to the statistics page, Jeffery was nowhere to be found. No catches, no receiving yards, no touchdowns.
Had the younger brother of Alshon Jeffery, USC’s all-time leader in receiving yards, fallen from grace? Perhaps.
Haunted by injuries (he underwent surgery to fix a small meniscus tear in his knee and missed the last three weeks of spring practice in 2012) and a questionable work ethic, Jeffery has made very little impact in his first two years on campus since signing with USC in February 2011.
But thanks to the departures of Ace Sanders, D.L. Moore and DeAngelo Smith, the momentum could be changing. Jeffery is off to an encouraging start in winter workouts and looks to be a different player than in his first two years.
“Shamier has had a change in attitude,” Steve Spurrier happily reported on Wednesday during his National Signing Day press conference. “He’s been going to everything on time, hustling. He looks like he wants to play. It will be an interesting spring for all those receivers.”
The group of “those receivers” includes Jeffery, Shaq Roland, K.J. Brent, Kwinton Smith (currently trying to earn a roster spot with the baseball team) and Jody Fuller. All those receivers are largely unproven.
“This spring will be a wonderful opportunity for those young receivers that haven’t done much here yet,” Spurrier said. “(Guys like) Shaq Roland, Kwinton Smith and Shamier Jeffery.”
Spurrier mentioned the name of another receiver he expects to step up in the spring - Damiere Byrd. However, the rising junior is a sprinter with the Gamecocks’ track team, so his availability for the spring is uncertain.
Byrd had 14 receptions for 366 yards (26.1 yards per catch) and three touchdowns last season, including a 56-yard score early in the Outback Bowl win over Michigan.
“(I) saw Damiere Byrd in the weight room today, and he’s still running track,” Spurrier said. “I think he goes to Arkansas this week to run the 60. But he needs to catch a whole bunch of passes this spring also. We need to see if we can get him ready to be a full-time wide receiver.”