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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Does the Capital One Bowl seemtoo long ago? If it does, then rejoice--the USC football team is back in action.

The team began spring drills Tuesday at their practice facility on Bluff Road in Columbia.

Although it's fartoo early to make any judgements, Steve Spurrier's pleased with what he's seen so far.

"A lot of young guys running around and hustling,"Spurrier said."The effort was very good. Throwing and catching at times looked good, at times not so good. The defense looked pretty sharp."

Spurrier praised the off-season conditioning that strength coach Joe Connolly did to keep his guys in shape over the winter.

One player who will not be on the field this week is Bruce Ellington. A day before practice began,Ellington said he would stick with basketball over football, despite having a promising 2011 season on the gridiron.

Spurrier says he can relate, as he preferred basketball at one time early in his life.

"That's a decision a young man has to make," the coach said. "Hopefully it will work out for Bruce. We're all for him. We wish him the best certainly."

Rising sophomore Jadeveon Clowney wasn't on the field either, but that was because of an academic issue, the school says.He's expected back on Thursday for the squad's next practice.

Athletics officials sayseveral players are expected to sit out the spring as they continue to recover from surgeries. The list includes Akeem Auguste (foot), TB Shon Carson (knee), FB Matt Coffee (knee), OC Travis Ford (foot), DE Deon Green (shoulder), TB Marcus Lattimore (knee), OT Mike Matulis (shoulder), OT Brock Stadnik (shoulder) and FS D.J. Swearinger (foot).

One more note: there's a new number one Gamecock--jersey #1 that is. Ace Sanders will now wear the jersey, which Alshon Jeffery donned last season.

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