SEC suspends Gamecocks' Swearinger for helmet hit

Associated Press Modified: September 17, 2012 at 5:31 pm •  Published: September 17, 2012
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The Southeastern Conference suspended free safety D.J. Swearinger for a game after his hit on a defenseless UAB receiver.

The announcement Monday means Swearinger will miss the seventh-ranked Gamecocks' game this weekend against Missouri.

A personal foul was called against Swearinger after he launched into UAB's Patrick Hearn while breaking up a pass in the third quarter Saturday. The side of Swearinger's helmet crashed into Hearn's facemask. Both players stayed in the game.

Swearinger's immediate backup on the depth chart is walk on Jared Shaw, but the team hopes to get Akeem Auguste back on the field this weekend after surgery in August on his right thigh muscle.

Swearinger had a 65-yard fumble return for a touchdown against UAB and an interception against East Carolina along with 10 total tackles this season.

The senior posted a video of the hit on his Twitter account, writing "Big hit against uab!!!" The post was deleted just minutes after the suspension was announced.

Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said he would talk about the suspension at his news conference Tuesday.

Spurrier pointed out Sunday that a Vanderbilt player was given a 15-yard penalty but no suspension for a similar hit against Gamecocks tight end Justice Cunningham.

"It's sort of interesting. If you hit him right in the knees when the ball gets there or right in the belly, I guess that's OK. But anything above the shoulders is considered off limits right now," Spurrier said.