The Gamecocks hold their first fall practice under Clark on Friday night on the fields behind Salls Hall. All the practices will be closed to outsiders, but that may be the prudent move on the first day, at least considering all the activity that will going on around it.
The team will work out just about the time of summer commencement ceremonies in the stadium, and for Clark and company, the focus will be on the work.
"For us, it's can you have two groups going at once and getting everything you want out of that," Clark said. "Any time a guy is standing around it's hard to evaluate.
"It is a lot of work to go into hopefully a well-choreographed machine on that first night. It's a big deal how we practice, getting the proper reps and everybody where they're supposed to be, so hopefully it goes the way we want it to."
ALL IN … ALMOST: As of 1:30 p.m. all 94 players who were expected to report on Thursday were on campus. The Gamecocks are planning on 95 in training camp.
“It’s what you want to see,” Clark said. “It’s one more thing of ‘do what you’re supposed to do, be where you’re supposed to be.’ Until they’re here on campus, they’re not here, so, yes, it is a big deal.”
No. 94 is Michael Carlisle, a 6-foot-0, 220-pound junior college All-American from Arizona Western Community College. Clark recruited the Jonesboro, Ga., inside linebacker for South Alabama when he was there and carried that relationship forward.
Defensive back Jamill Lott will make 95 when he arrives. The transfer from Appalachian State is due in either tonight or Saturday after going through ASU graduation ceremonies.
Lott was dismissed by the Mountaineers in the spring after several occasions of violations of team rules, but has a grade point average of 3.0 and already has been accepted into JSU’s graduate program. Clark isn’t one to lightly pass out second chances, but he did a “pretty good bit” of due diligence to check out the safety.
Lott was a part-time starter for App State last year and would have been a full-time starter if not for the off-field incidents, team officials said. Lott’s father, James, is a former Clemson defensive back who spent some time in the NFL and is now a pass defense coach at Johnson C. Smith.
CUT LINE: Clark said as many as 125 players worked out on campus this summer with hopes of being invited into the 95. Those who didn’t make the initial cut will be invited back when classes start.
"When some people are having a hard time finding guys to come to school to practice, we've got guys wanting to be on our team who have worked out on their own, paying their own way," Clark said. "Instead of trying to find 95, we had to sell 25 (on) you can't come ’til school starts.
"Those 95 guys, I'll tell them it's an honor to be here because we chose some other guys who couldn't be here right now so you're representing them. ... If they're in this 95, they're important."
Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.