South Carolina’s season comes to an end Saturday.
While it will be a bittersweet day for the team’s 16 seniors, there’s no sense of relief despite how disappointing the Gamecocks’ results have been this season, offensive lineman Brandon Shell said.
“This season really taught everybody a lot about not taking things for granted,” Shell said.
For a while there, South Carolina seniors could count on leaving school with 40 or more wins. The class of 2012 became the winningest in school history with 40 victories. The class of 2013 topped that, notching 42. The class of 2014 fell back down, but only slightly, to 40 again.
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The class of 2015 sits at 32 victories heading into the season finale against the No. 1 team in the nation. The Gamecocks (3-8) will host Clemson (11-0) at noon in Williams-Brice Stadium.
“Yeah, it’s senior day and all that, and we really do appreciate everything they have done for us, but more importantly we’re going to play for our team, and I think if you asked our seniors that, they would say the exact same thing,” interim coach Shawn Elliott said. “It’s about our football team. It’s about going out there and making the best of a great opportunity.”
Sixteen seniors will be honored prior to Saturday’s game, and 12 of them came from the recruiting classes of 2011 and 2012. Those two classes included 52 players and nearly twice as many of them (23) didn’t complete their eligibility – because of transfers, dismissals or injuries – as made it to today’s finish line.
“You watch guys grow and mature and hang in it,” Elliott said of his seniors. “They are going to move on and be great fathers, husbands and men. Your Mike Matulises, your Will Sports, they are going to be successful in life. They have won a lot of football games at the University of South Carolina. I’m so very proud of them.”
The seniors would love to go out with a victory, Matulis said.
“Some of the friends I’ve made and some of the experiences I have had, I’ll never forget them,” he said, “and I’d like to go out with a nice W.”
Shell, a member of the class of 2011, feels like his collegiate career has flown by.
“I remember my freshman year enrolling at South Carolina. Now to think it’s coming to an end is like, ‘Wow,’” Shell said. “It’s kind of bittersweet. I am ready to play, but I’m not ready for it to be over.”
One last time
Twelve of the 16 seniors who will be honored before Saturday’s game against Clemson come from the recruiting classes for 2011 and 2012. The 52 members of those classes are listed below. (The other four honorees – Landon Ard, Garrison Gist, Carlton Heard and Isaiah Johnson – came to South Carolina as walk-ons or through transfer.)
Gerald Dixon Jr.
Nick. St. Germain*
*Didn’t complete eligibility because of transfer, dismissal or injury