A statue of the Gamecocks’ only Heisman trophy winner, running back George Rogers, will be installed outside Williams-Brice Stadium next year, a committee of USC trustees agreed Friday.
The nine-foot statue will go on the northwest corner of Bluff Road and George Rogers Boulevard on a new plaza surrounding the stadium.
Sandy Proctor, who made sculptures of Florida State coach Bobby Bowden and Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier when he won the Heisman at Florida, will make the statue of Rogers standing on a bench and holding his helmet.
The pose was chosen so that Rogers’ face was not obscured by wearing the helmet, said USC trustee Chuck Allen, a former teammate of the Heisman winner’s who has pushed for the statue.
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Work on the $14 million plaza, which will replace the parking pavement, starts next month and should be finished before kickoff of the 2015 season.
The Rogers statue will cost $275,000. The money was a gift from former USC cheerleader Patti Shelley of West Columbia.
Shelley, 69, said she made the donation in honor of she and her late husband, James, a former Sonoco Corp. executive whom she met while they attended USC. The couple have attended Gamecock football games for years.
“I always thought George was special,” she said. “He’s such a nice person.”
The statue, approved by the USC trustees’ buildings and grounds committee on Friday, still needs a vote by the full board to be finalized, which is expected next month.
Extra space is expected to accommodate more statues. Shelley suggests Spurrier, who has turned around Gamecock football in the past decade.
USC athletics director Ray Tanner said it was premature to talk about erecting a statue for Spurrier, hoping the coach is not going anywhere for years.
Tanner said the statue will become a fan destination on gamedays and show off a bit of Gamecock history.
“Not every school has a Heisman,” he said.
USC will become the eighth SEC school to install statues of former players and coaches outside their stadiums.
Rogers remains a popular figure in Gamecock athletics and still holds school records.
He is the Gamecocks’ all-time leading rusher with 5,204 yards. Rogers led the country with 1,894 rushing yards in 1980 and won the Heisman.
Rogers was the NFL’s No. 1 draft pick with the New Orleans Saints and won the league’s Rookie of the Year award. The Georgia native won a Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins in 1988.
“The statue will serve as an appropriate reminder to all ... of one of the most athletic accomplishments in the history of our university,” Allen said.