Kyle Markway always thought there was a good chance he would play at Faurot Field in Columbia, Mo., he just envisioned coming out of the home locker room instead of the visitors.
Early in the recruiting process, Markway never considered playing college football in the Southeast. He didn’t want to leave the Midwest.
Markway wanted to stay within two hours of his hometown of St. Louis, and Missouri was a natural fit. Unfortunately for Markway, the Tigers passed on him during the recruiting process.
“They recruited me as a sophomore,” he said. “I visited a couple of times and did a couple of camps and they said I wasn’t the right fit to their offense.”
Meanwhile, USC was in search of another tight end for the 2015 class and was looking to expand its recruiting area to find the right fit. Special teams coordinator Joe Robinson saw film of Markway and liked what he saw.
“He was a two-way player, and he made a lot of plays on defense,” Robinson said. “He was a physical player. We thought he would be a physical player at the tight end position.”
Robinson reached out to Markway on Twitter to gauge his interest about visiting South Carolina. The St. John Vianney product agreed to visit and was impressed with what the Gamecocks had to offer.
“That was completely random. One day I was looking at Twitter and I saw a follow request from Coach Robinson. I was like ‘Wow,’ ” Markway said. “Then I came down here for a visit just to see what it was like and I loved everything about it.”
As a true freshman, Markway has made an impact on special teams. He has played in every game and is slated to contribute on the punt team, field goal team and kickoff return team this weekend when USC travels to Missouri. He is also on the hands team should the Tigers lineup for an onside kick.
“To be able to come in and contribute on three different special teams for us, he’s done very, very well,” Robinson said. “He brings what we thought, athleticism and a physical nature. He’s young and he’s learning and he’s getting better every week.”
Markway said he played special teams in high school but did not take it as seriously as he does now.
“In high school you’re just like, ‘I want to play offense and defense,’ but this is my main job right now,” he said. “Making that my main priority is something that I’ve had to change.”
Still, USC coach Steve Spurrier said Markway might also see an increase in playing time at tight end .
Markway said about 50 family members have contacted him asking for tickets. Carolina starting quarterback Lorenzo Nunez added that Markway has already asked for his tickets.
The opportunity to play in front of family members and friends is not the only reason Markway is excited for Saturday’s game. After the Tigers passed on him, Markway wants to prove that Missouri made a mistake.
“This has been a game I’ve been looking forward to since I committed here,” he said.