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December 23, 2003
Shrine Bowl stars: South Carolina
The South Carolina "Sandlappers" were on the short end of a 21-12 score in the 67th annual Shrine Bowl this past weekend, but that doesn't mean there weren't a few standouts. Rivals.com brings you the top five players on the SC side.
1)WR Sidney Rice -- With little running game, South Carolina was forced to the air during Saturday's Shrine Bowl. A focal point of the passing attack was outstanding wide receiver Sidney Rice. Rice, who in his senior season helped lead his high school team to a state
title, is a prototypcial big receiver. With good size, nice speed and excellent route-running ability, Rice uses his gifts to exposes shorter defensive backs. A
very nice outside target, Rice uses his size and footwork to own the outside of the field on fly patterns or jump balls. On big passing downs, teams better have Rice doubled, and that still assures nothing. Late in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game, Sidney used his height to make a
highlight catch in the corner of the endzone, pulling his team back into the game. Rice went on to finish the afternoon with 48 yards on five catches and the one
touchdown and was clearly the best player on the field for the Sandlappers.
2) LB Lawrence Timmons -- Timmons proved to be one of the best athletes in the state of South Carolina in 2003. Playing tight end on offense, defensive end or linebacker on defense, Timmons is an all-around top talent. As evidenced by his ability to play on the offensive side of the ball, Lawrence has great agility and mobility which benefits his defensive game. Strength, speed and a knack for being around the football allowed Timmons to record a total of nine tackles on Saturday afternoon.
3) DB Michael Hamlin -- A highly-touted safety during his senior season, Hamlin showed great all-around promise with his ability to shift to cornerback during the 2003 Shrine Bowl. A very physical player who has the speed and footwork to cover wide receivers one-on-one, Hamlin led the South Carolina team with a total of 10 tackles. He provided nice containment, breaks down receivers well and is a nice open-field tackler. A very nice prospect at the next level, who shows a lot of maturity when leading a defensive backfield.
4) DE Matt Raysor -- Used throughout his senior season as an interior lineman, Raysor was shifted to defensive end for the 2003 Shrine Bowl. For a big man, Raysor has very good footwork to compliment his size and strength. A pleasant surprise on the week from the defensive end position, Raysor used some unexpected speed to get the end quite often and make his presence known in the North Carolina backfield on Saturday afternoon. An agile big man who finished the day with four tackles and a sack.
5) LB Robert Ayers -- Ayers, one of the top linebackers in the country, had his work cut out for him trying to stop the outstanding North Carolina quartet of running backs, but quite often proved to be very much up to the challenge. Ayers has great size, strength and speed to clog the middle of the field. His abilities were
shown as North Carolina often found the running tough up the middle, choosing to run off-tackle and wide for their success. Ayers had a quiet three tackles on the day, but much of this should be attributed to his ability to shut down the middle of the field, forcing teams away from him.
Special thanks to Andy Crouch for contributing to this report.