USC's new secret weapon?
Bryce Sherman
GamecockAnthem.com
Posted Aug 7, 2009
Doug Jolley


The Gamecocks began fall practice by welcoming in a heralded freshman class, but much of the talk by the coaches and the fans has been about an unheralded walk-on who didn’t play football his first year at USC, running back Bryce Sherman. Find out all about the Gamecocks' newest speedster in this exclusive interview with his high school coach, James McMillan, and with Sherman himself.

The buzz about Bryce Sherman began on Tuesday, the first day of pre-season practice, when fans and media alike pulled out their rosters to find out who number 29 was. All they knew was whoever he was, he was short, but he was fast! This was exactly what Head Coach Steve Spurrier had to say that night: “We've got a little guy Bryce Sherman, and he’s quick. He’s fast, man. It was interesting to watch him running around out there.”

The next night, Spurrier was again talking about Sherman, saying, “He’s on the track team here, and came out for football so we found him this summer. He played in high school, and when I asked him, he told me that he gained over 1600 yards his senior year. So he can play, he’s a natural running with the ball. There may be a spot for him out here as far as punt return, kick return, and things like that.”

The Gamecocks landed one of the highest ranked running backs in the country in Jarvis Giles, who chose the Gamecocks over traditional powers Nebraska, Florida State, and Tennessee. Giles enrolled early and caught the eyes of Gamecock Nation at the spring game when he played well. Junior Brian Maddox is expected to be the starter and has also drawn praise from Spurrier in the pre-season practices. Sophomore Eric Baker and redshirt freshman Kenny Miles are also highly regarded, but it is the previously unknown Sherman that has received the most attention the first three days of fall practice.

When asked if he was surprised by all the attention he has received the first week in camp, Sherman replied, “I had confidence in myself, but I didn’t expect it to be like this. I just keep believing in God, just keep playing football.”

After his football career is over, Sherman may have a future in sales. First, he had to sell the USC football staff about letting him walk-on the team. He said he had to “knock on some doors,” and acknowledged the staff had no idea who he was when he came knocking.

“I gave my highlight tape to some of the players so that they could give it to the coaches. They got the word through and then a little buzz started circulating around the football office or something like that,” Sherman recalled.



Walk-on running back Bryce Sherman's high school highlights, posted above, impressed several coaches and players around the South Carolina program.


The coaches gave permission for him to begin working out with the team about a month ago, with the plan for him to practice at wide receiver. Then on the first day of fall camp, he successfully sold Spurrier and running backs coach Jay Graham on letting him work out at running back and returning kicks.

“Yeah, we had to talk during a few meetings. I was just like, ‘Coach, I want to run the football for you.’ I thank God for Coach and his staff letting me come out here and run the ball," he stated. "Right now I’m just doing anything I can to impress them.

“Thank God for Coach Graham,” he continued. “I went out there a few times, and ran a few plays, and I guess he was impressed because he let me stay at running back.

He has one more sale to make with Spurrier, and it’s a big one. NCAA rules require that a scholarship dual-sport athlete who plays football be on a football scholarship. Sherman came to South Carolina on a full track scholarship and ran track his freshman year. When asked if he was going to run track again, he replied, “No sir. I’m strictly football now. I just thank God for Coach Spurrier and his staff giving me this chance. I just want to play football. I’m done with track.”

When asked if that meant giving up his track scholarship to play football, the final sales pitch was delivered.

“Technically I am a walk-on right now. But that’s all up to Coach Spurrier,” he said smiling. “I’m just going to do my best to contribute to the team. I’m playing football now, and that’s all I want to do. Football is my main focus and my favorite sport, so I’m glad I’m out here.”

Sherman chose South Carolina for track over offers from Virginia Tech, Clemson and Michigan. He said that he had offers to play football and run track from Western Carolina and Navy.

He didn’t play football his freshman year per track coach Curtis Frye’s instructions. “I talked to my track coach here and he told me that I could come out for football during my sophomore year. So now I’m a sophomore and I’m out here and everything’s going good.”

The lack of offers to play football from the major D-1 teams is easily attributed to his size. He is officially listed by USC as 5’6” and 155 pounds. He said he hit his current height in 7th or 8th grade.

“I always used to play AAU Basketball, and all of a sudden I stopped growing and everyone else kept getting taller. So I just had to accept it, but I’ve been able to use my speed to do well in track and football," Shermain said. "God’s just seen me through it all. I consider myself blessed.”

He is already being compared by USC fans to LSU’s diminutive but electric running back and return dynamo Trindon Holliday, who is 5’5”, and weighs just a little more at 160.

If height is Sherman's shortcoming, then speed is his greatest asset. He said he has not been timed in the 40-yard dash since coming to Carolina, but the man who coached him in track and football in high school, James McMillan, timed him at 4.3 in the 40, and he ran that with an ankle injury which required surgery at the end of the season.

“His 40 time was 4.3 on a bum ankle,” McMillan told GamecockAnthem.com. “I’m really curious what he would run real healthy. That was a legit time that was timed by a number of coaches, it was just amazing. Bryce Sherman is one of a kind.”

Sherman laughed when asked about it.

“Everyone asks me about that situation. I mean my ankle was a little bummed out, but it wasn’t as bad as it sounds.”

The ankle injury occurred in his final football game in high school in the state playoffs.

“He ran up in a hole, and when he made a cut, he rolled the ankle as he went by a defender," McMillan said. "He’s recovered well from it. He had a minor surgery. It hindered him some going into his senior track season. He won the state indoor track 55 meter competition on a hurt ankle, and then in the outdoor state competition, he placed second in the 100 and 200 meter competitions. He was also part of the 4X100 and 4X200 teams that won gold medals.”

McMillan said in regards to being recruited to play football, the ankle injury lowered his stock a little bit.

“Track was his first love,” he said. “Thanks to South Carolina and their track program, they gave him a chance. I told him if he chooses South Carolina there was going to be a chance for him to play football there, and he believed it, and it’s happening for him.”

McMillan said, “I went to the spring game and watched Jarvis Giles, and was impressed.”

But Sherman’s former coach thinks his protégé can be even better, as he said, “Where I feel Bryce can be even better than Giles is Bryce will make you miss, then hit the seam. Bryce is pretty special; he gives them an extra dimension that they weren’t expecting. With South Carolina having two kids like that, you really can’t go wrong.”

Sherman is joining his former high school teammate from Carver, Alonzo Winfield. Winfield was one class ahead of Sherman at Carver, and is the same at USC after both have had a redshirt year. Both players played football and ran track together at Carver, and their former coach said there was something else they shared: “They both are fast.”


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