December 4, 2007

Emergence Of Lecorn Highlighted Season

Dion Lecorn started the 2007 season on the South Carolina scout team expecting to redshirt.

He finished it as the second most productive wide receiver on the Gamecocks.

Lecorn's transformation into a quality wide receiver in the SEC was one of the 'feel-good' stories of the year for USC. Before the season, few would have predicted he would emerge from a group of talented prospects that included Chris Culliver, Jason Barnes, Mark Barnes and Joseph Hills and make the impact he did.

But quarterback Blake Mitchell noticed early-on the qualities in Lecorn that would ultimately serve him well.

"He learned the system," Mitchell said. "He can block downfield. That's one of the main things. He can block and he can catch the ball."

Lecorn didn't have a reception one-third of the way through the regular season. But over the final eight games, the Ocala, Fla. native registered 27 receptions for 315 yards (31.5 ypg) and three touchdowns.

Sixteen of his receptions came in the final three games.

Lecorn was honored this week with a spot on The Sporting News' SEC All-Freshman team.

Lecorn concluded his first year of major college football as the fourth leading receiver on the Gamecocks behind Kenny McKinley (77 receptions), Cory Boyd (36) and Jared Cook (30).

He had a season-high eight receptions for 109 yards against Arkansas on Nov. 3 before catching five passes for 65 yards and one touchdown in the season-ending 23-21 loss to Clemson.

"He stepped it up and played a tremendous game against Arkansas," Mitchell said. "He also had a tremendous game (against Clemson)."

Lecorn has two more catches and 24 more yards than Kenny McKinley had after his freshman season in 2005. He had two catches or more in seven of the eight consecutive games in which he had a reception.

"Yeah, I did," Lecorn said when asked if he accomplished more in his first year than he anticipated. "When I first got here, I was on the scout team, so I didn't really expect to play much. But then I got the opportunity."

Citing Lecorn's superior downfield blocking skills, Steve Spurrier gave the freshman his first career start against Mississippi State. Lecorn went on to start seven games.

The final pass completion of Blake Mitchell's college career was a 4-yard touchdown toss to Lecorn with nine minutes remaining in the Clemson game. The score gave USC a shortlived 21-20 lead.

"He's done a great job, he catches the ball, he's a big guy, he's physical," Mitchell said recently about Lecorn. "He can make some yards after the catch. He's done a tremendous job for us. He's going to be a great receiver."

Lecorn's impact on the Gamecock offense was noticeable on the stat sheet. In the four games at the outset of the season in which he didn't make a single catch, USC averaged 210.4 passing yards per game.

However, over the final eight games, the Gamecocks averaged 282.1 passing yards per game. Lecorn's badly needed presence certainly contributed to that improved production by drawing some of the attention of defensive backs away from McKinley

"Dion was tremendous for me this year," McKinley said. "He made big plays in the clutch. I watched him all year. He's so hard to tackle. He's pretty big. He's been a great complement to me on the other side. I'm happy that we have him."

Lecorn believes he and McKinley will form a dynamic duo in 2008 should USC's leading receiver forego the NFL Draft and return for his senior season.

"If Kenny comes back, we're going to be awesome out there," Lecorn said. "Kenny is an awesome player. He goes out there and does everything right. He's a hard worker. He never gives up or puts his head down."

He vowed to work hard in the off-season to ensure that what happened this season (five-game losing streak) won't happen again.

"That's really a big thing for us. We know we have to go work hard to make sure this doesn't happen anymore," Lecorn said.

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