Kyle Fleetwood and his family traveled down U.S. 501 and through Conway on childhood trips to Myrtle Beach, always passing a sign that said “Coastal Carolina.”
“We used to pass the school but we never knew what school it was,” he said. “We didn’t know if it was a high school. We didn’t know what was there. We just saw the sign.”
Fleetwood on Sunday will move in at Coastal Carolina University after two years at South Carolina, a decision made to improve his chance of contributing on the field.
The 5-foot-11, 226-pound Fleetwood started as a safety at USC before moving to spur, where he was fourth on the spring practice depth chart.
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He chose Coastal Carolina over Georgia State and UT-Chattanooga. He will have three years of eligibility and will play as a nickelback or linebacker for head coach Joe Moglia in his third season at Coastal. The Chanticleers are coming off a 12-3 record that included a Big South title and two FCS playoff wins.
“I messed up at first. I said I’m going to the University of Coastal Carolina,” Fleetwood said. “I said it backwards. Now I know that it’s Coastal Carolina University. It’s a great place to be. Coach Moglia is a great coach and their staff is very interested in my future.”
Fleetwood and running back Mike Davis signed with the Gamecocks in 2012 out of Stephenson High in Stone Mountain, Ga.
As a redshirt freshman in 2013, he appeared on special teams in four games – including against Coastal Carolina, a 70-10 win for USC.
“It was funny, playing against them I never had any idea I would go to Coastal and end up playing for them,” Fleetwood said. “We put it on them pretty bad. It’s pretty cool knowing I’ll be playing for them.”
The decision to leave South Carolina and pursue other options was made the Friday before USC’s April 12 spring game. It was a mutual agreement with Steve Spurrier and defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward, Fleetwood said.
“They didn’t want me to waste my future at a program where I may not be able to play as much as I can compared to another school, and I agreed,” Fleetwood said. “Coach Spurrier is a great guy and he wanted me to maximize my future and get the most out of my football experience. At South Carolina it wasn’t going to happen.”
Fleetwood might be best known for hoisting a bucket of Gatorade with defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles and dumping it on Spurrier after the Gamecocks’ win over Clemson in November. Spurrier joked with the media that he had returned the favor during a practice leading up to the Capital One Bowl.
“It was freezing outside that day and it got really quiet,” Fleetwood said. “I knew something was up. By then Coach Spurrier had snuck up on me with a whole thing of Gatorade and just dumped me. It was a funny time. Coach Spurrier is a really fun guy to be around. He understands what’s important but he likes to have fun.”
Beating Clemson last season and the 35-7 home win over Georgia in 2012 are among his biggest memories inside Williams-Brice Stadium.
He played in the garnet and black one last time in the spring game. He’ll be back in 2016, wearing teal and bronze when the Chanticleers are scheduled to visit Williams-Brice Stadium again.
“South Carolina is a great school,” Fleetwood said. “There are great coaches and a great football program, and most importantly great fans. It was ultimately a great experience overall.”