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June 15, 2006

Anderson revved up for start of USC career

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Garrett Anderson can't wait to get his college football career started.

Rated by Rivals.com as the No. 3 overall prospect in South Carolina, Anderson knows that expectations are high among Gamecocks fans for him and the rest of the 2006 class.

Anderson - one of eight offensive linemen signed this year - will report to USC along with the other freshmen on June 28th.

They will begin classes and the summer conditioning program shortly thereafter.

"I'm looking forward to practice. I miss football a lot," Anderson said. "I'm ready to hit something. I'm ready to compete at that level."

A product of Dutch Fork High School in Irmo, S.C., Anderson says he currently weighs 285 pounds. The coaches want Anderson to achieve a playing weight of 295 pounds.

"I was at 305, 310 (pounds) at the spring game but I'm down to 285 now," Anderson said.

While head coach Steve Spurrier told audiences during the recently completed Gamecock Club tour that Anderson and several of the other incoming freshman offensive linemen could see significant action this season, Anderson still aspires for a redshirt season in order to mature physically.

Anderson will not turn 18 until July 13.

"I'm going into (fall camp) trying to be the best guy there," Anderson said. "If I'm not the best O-lineman there, I would really like to redshirt. But I'm going to go in there ready to play. I'm ready to contribute if they need me. But, except for that, I would like to redshirt."

Anderson will take one or two freshman introductory courses during the second summer session.

"I'm looking forward to getting started in school," Anderson said.

Right now, Anderson could play any position along the offensive line. He anticipates offensive line coach John Hunt will line him up at a number of positions once workouts start in early August.

"I'm not really sure which position I'm going to play," Anderson said. "There's been some talk of me playing center. They might also put me at tackle or guard. They're going to have two or three (of the eight OL signees) go in there and play this year. The rest are going to redshirt."

Anderson is experienced running some of the offensive line schemes favored by Spurrier and Hunt.

"Our zone schemes are almost the same that we ran at Dutch Fork," Anderson said. "So I have an advantage in that. But for some of the other basic blocking schemes, I've never run them before so that will be something new to learn."

Anderson spends most of his days now working out and getting ready for the grind of major college football. He says he is playing handball to improve his speed and agility.

"I'm trying to be in the best athletic shape possible for what Coach (Mark) Smith will put us through," Anderson said. "I'm just getting ready for football. I'm running every day and working out four times a week."

Anderson says he has been faithfully following the workout plan prepared by Smith and sent to all of the incoming freshmen. He is also running about 1-1/2 miles three times per week to improve his stamina and endurance.

Still, he knows he must take his conditioning to another level during the four weeks prior to when the players put the pads on during fall camp.

"I've talked to Rodney (Paulk) and some of the linemen that are already there and they said there is no workout like it," Anderson said. "Rodney told me he's never had conditioning like the conditioning he's going through now. I have a long ways to go to be ready to play at that level."

Anderson expressed excitement over the fact that the first two games of the season will be televised nationally by ESPN. USC opens the season Aug. 31 at Mississippi State.

"It's great to know that Carolina football is being taken seriously," Anderson said. "We're going to be a good team and everyone around the nation will see it. It's a cool experience knowing you're on ESPN playing football. People know that Carolina football is for real."

Anderson - one of the Greater Columbia area's most decorated offensive linemen in recent memory - played in the Shrine Bowl along with fellow USC signees Paulk and Nick Prochak.

He was honored by the South Carolina Football Coaches Association as its Lineman of the Year and became the first offensive lineman to be recognized by the Columbia Touchdown Club as the Offensive Player of the Week.

He was also ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 8 offensive line prospect in the nation.

Anderson said he has stayed in contact with many of the other incoming freshmen, including Hutch Eckerson, Heath Batchelor, Chris Smelley, and Prochak.

Anderson is eagerly looking forward to blocking for a quarterback the caliber of Smelley, the Gatorade Player of the Year in Alabama and the owner of several state records.

"He could play this year," Anderson said. "He's good enough. He's an incredible quarterback. But it may be best for him to wait another year. He could be starting next year. He's a great athlete."

Anderson plans to major in civil engineering.

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