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Thomson's Brinkley likely to miss rest of SC season

Earlier this month, Jasper Brinkley told ESPN the Magazine that the thing he feared most was an injury.

Saturday afternoon that fear became a reality.

The South Carolina Gamecocks' starting middle linebacker - who hails from Thomson - will likely miss the rest of the season after tearing his lateral collateral ligament in his right knee Saturday early in the Gamecocks' 28-16 loss at No. 2 LSU.

Brinkley will have surgery Wednesday. He said the recovery period will take eight weeks.

On the preseason watch lists for the Lombardi and Butkus awards, the Gamecock senior has been projected by several sports web sites to be selected as high as the first round in the 2008 NFL Draft. He was not thinking of that Monday afternoon. Instead, he said he will apply to the NCAA for a medical redshirt to play in the 2008 season.

Brinkley led the Gamecocks with 107 tackles a year ago, more than twice the total of the team's second-ranked tackler. The 6-foot-2, 262-pounder was picked for The Associated Press' All-Southeastern Conference team a season ago.

"Jasper plays a big role on defense being a leader," senior linebacker and twin brother Casper Brinkley said. "Everybody's down right now, but we're going to be all right."

On LSU's second play from scrimmage, Brinkley tore his LCL, which is located on the outside of the knee. He exited the game but later returned in the first half.

Brinkley stayed in the contest until the conclusion, though he wasn't at full speed. He finished with three tackles, his lowest total in 17 games at South Carolina.

"My knee hyperextended, and with the force it snapped my LCL," he said. "I just toughened up. I wanted to play in that game."

At the time, Casper Brinkley didn't think the injury was serious.

"I thought it was just a little bump on his knee," he said.

In four games this season, Jasper Brinkley recorded 21 tackles with a team-high two interceptions. He picked off Georgia's Matthew Stafford in the final minute to secure South Carolina's 16-12 win over the Bulldogs.

Casper and Jasper Brinkley, who helped Thomson win a state championship in 2002, entered this season looking forward to playing together one final time. The injury means they likely played their last game together this past Saturday.

"It kind of hurt me," Casper said. "But we're still a team."

Now, Jasper said he will watch the Gamecocks from the sideline for the rest of 2007.

"It's going to be pretty tough," he said. "Whoever's playing my spot, I'm going to try to help him out."

The injury came just days after Jasper was recognized as a Touchstone Energy Teammate of the Week by the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives of South Carolina.

He was honored for his volunteer work with organizations such as Pigskin Poets, Children's Chance, the Carolina School for Inquiry and White Knoll and St. Andrews middle schools in Columbia.

Brinkley is among 24 outstanding athletes to be recognized this year as a Touchstone Energy Teammate of the Week. In addition to being featured this fall on radio and television, Brinkley will be formally recognized as a Touchstone Energy Teammate of the Week during the Carolina-Florida football game on Nov. 10.

The 16th-ranked Gamecocks (3-1) play host to Mississippi State (3-1) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Associated Press reports were used in this article.

Web posted on Thursday, September 27, 2007

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