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 COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -South Carolina quarterback Blake Mitchell returned to practice Monday night after missing the team's first two workouts because of too many missed classes at summer school.
``I hope that's embarrassing to him. It should be,'' coach Steve Spurrier said.
Mitchell finally hit the field after jogging or doing push-ups during the weekend practice sessions. ``It was pretty tough, but I'm back out here in the mix throwing it around,'' Mitchell said.
Spurrier was disappointed his quarterback missed the time and said on Saturday night that Mitchell had ``done some disappointing things before, so it doesn't shock me.''
South Carolina has plenty of practice time still to come and the fifth-year senior, who started much of the last two seasons, should have no problem catching up.
``I definitely let them down,'' Mitchell said of his teammates and coaches. ``But they know I've been there at the workouts, working hard, busting it. I know they believe in me and respect that.''
It's been an inconsistent career so far for Mitchell, a 6-foot-3, 211-pounder from LaGrange, Ga.
Mitchell was a rising sophomore when he took over Spurrier's offense in 2005, helping the Gamecocks to some never-before accomplished feats in the coach's first season.
Mitchell threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns in a 16-15 win at Tennessee, the Gamecocks first victory in Knoxville. Then two weeks later, he helped South Carolina beat Florida 30-22 in the coach's first time facing his alma mater and former employer since taking the Gamecocks job.
Spurrier was so impressed with Mitchell's progress that before the 2006 season he said had the tools to be an all-Southeastern Conference quarterback.
Instead, Mitchell fell flat. He was ineffective in SEC games against Mississippi State and Georgia and soon found himself on the bench.
It didn't help Mitchell's cause when he was arrested for punching a bar bouncer near campus last September. The charges were later dropped.
Mitchell spent the next several weeks on the bench watching Syvelle Newton run South Carolina's attack.
A focused Mitchell got a second chance late in the season. Trailing 23-6 to Arkansas at halftime, Spurrier sent Mitchell out and he nearly rallied the Gamecocks to victory. Mitchell finished 15 of 21 for 213 yards and two TDs in the Razorbacks' 26-20 win.
The effort earned Mitchell the start a week later against Florida and he again was on target, hitting 24 of 33 throws for 275 yards and two touchdowns in the Gamecocks 17-16 loss.
Mitchell had his bobbles down the stretch - he threw three interceptions against Clemson, but helped the Gamecocks rally to a 31-28 victory.
So Mitchell again enters this season with some high expectations.
Spurrier said Mitchell remains the starter and will keep the job as long as he keeps the Gamecocks moving. But Spurrier on Sunday praised backups Chris Smelley and Tommy Beecher, saying how good they looked early on.
``I think I'm doing a good job leading with the guys,'' Mitchell said. ``I'm going to do my best to try and do the right things.''
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