By Carl Prather| August 12, 2011 at 1:01 AM CDT - Updated August 21 at 10:35 PM
The Gamecocks held their first scrimmage of the preseason on Thursday to give head coach Jack Crowe a "first look" at several of his newcomers and first-year players in preparation for the season opener, which is just three weeks away.
"We are trying to get a first look at some guys who we haven't had out here before, but also some guys who have been out here before and have a new opportunity," Crowe said following the two hour workout. "There is a lot of good competition going on out here and really, really good quality of young players out here."
"The things we saw before today carried on through today," Crowe said. "DeMarcus James really has some contributions he can make to this football team, and possibly Rashod Byers. Ben Endress, a walk-on from Clay County, is going to be a fine football player. "
Thursday's scrimmage also was an opportunity for sophomore quarterback Coty Blanchard to take some snaps under center since he spent the spring with the Gamecock baseball team.
"It was good to get Coty, who missed spring training, a lot of snaps," Crowe added. "He is certainly a fine player."
Crowe was also pleased with the play of redshirt sophomore Brenton Tolson, who was moved to middle linebacker this spring. The former Anniston High School standout played in all 12 games last season and finished with 29 tackles.
"I thought Brenton Tolson was a lot better football player than before, and he was a good one before," said Crowe. "He may be becoming something really special."
Jacksonville State returns to the practice field on Friday as the Gamecocks will hold their first two-a-day workouts of the preseason. JSU will scrimmage again on Saturday in an effort to begin filling the 70-man dress roster in preparation for the September 1 season opener against UT Martin.
"Saturday won't be everybody getting everything they need, but we have to pick the right ones to get what they need to get us to the UT Martin game," added Crowe.