On Saturday, when good fortune finally took the time to find Akeem Auguste, South Carolina’s senior cornerback went to the sideline and straight to Shaq Wilson.
“The first thing he did was came and gave me a big hug,” said Wilson, a senior linebacker who became a Gamecock the same year as Auguste. “I said, ‘You just had to believe it was going to happen.’ ”
Wilson, like several of Auguste’s teammates, has stood by him for two seasons when it seemed fate had it in for the Hollywood, Fla., native.
“It’s one of those things you kind of look at, and the (bad) situation he’s been put in ...,” senior defensive end Devin Taylor said.
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Auguste expected to be gone by now. He was penciled in as a starting cornerback last preseason, which was his original senior season, but a freak foot injury cost him all but a handful of plays in one game, necessitating a redshirt year. The season he sat out was the winningest in school history but things seemed to be looking up this August.
Auguste once again was expected to start at cornerback and expectations for the team were again sky high. His window of good luck didn’t last a week. Auguste pulled a groin muscle severely in the third practice of the preseason. He tried twice to return to the field, only to hurt himself worse.
Auguste sat out the first four games of the year because of the groin injury and was sidelined again against Tennessee by a separate groin injury. The 40 plays he notched against Arkansas last week were the most he’s played in a game since 2010, when he was South Carolina’s starting free safety.
“The season didn’t go like I expected it to go, but at the same time, there are a lot of things I can’t control,” Auguste said. “God has a plan for me and whatever happens for me, happens I guess.”
Auguste’s teammates went out of their way, he said, to find him in the training room or call him up just to chat and keep him from feeling ostracized as many players with long-term injuries begin to feel
“They kept me in the loop and everything, really never made me feel like I was distant from the team or anything like that,” Auguste said. “I was still going on trips and stuff. Really, the family atmosphere we had got me through it. I can’t ask for nothing else really. I’m blessed.”
Steve Spurrier isn’t sure he believes particular players are injury prone, but he does believe in bad luck.
“Sometimes guys are just a little unluckier than others on injuries,” Spurrier said.
Auguste’s buzzard’s luck seldom wiped the smile off his face, secondary coach Grady Brown said.
“Akeem is the type of person that you love to be around,” Brown said. “He’s always in a good mood, always has a smile on his face. He has been professional in the way he has handled things. He’s blessed with a great personality, a good spirit.”
His patience finally paid off against the Razorbacks, when Auguste got the first interception of his career. He felt no vindication in the play, he said, “just the monkey jumping off my back, that’s all.”
“Hopefully, I get a couple more before the season is over,” he said.
Auguste has 14 tackles this season, giving him 132 for his career. He has played 41 career games, starting 19 of them, and he might start in the Gamecocks’ final three games of the season, depending on how their secondary shuffling is settled.
“We knew early on that, at some point, he’d be back,” Brown said, “and he’d do something to help us win a game.”