This week was circled on South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst’s calendar.
He’s a Florida guy, calling Jacksonville home. He didn’t grow up with a big Gators lean, but still had some interest.
“I was trying to come up to pick schools. Florida was one of my choices, but they said they didn’t have room for me,” Hurst said. “So I figured, if they didn’t want me, I could come here and try and play against them.”
Keep in mind, that was after his minor league baseball stint, so he was only looking for a walk-on spot.
Not enough room for another walk-on?
“That’s what I was told,” Hurst said.
And there’s the root of why this game gets circled.
The 23-year-old sophomore has blossomed into a top receiving threat for the Gamecocks as they’ve worked to find their footing offensively. He’s second on the team with 426 with a team-leading 35 receptions.
That puts him only two off the school record for receptions by a tight end set by Jared Cook in 2008.
His challenge against Florida has been altered because starting linebackers Alex Anzalone and Jarrad Davis are out with injuries.
And as a son of the state, he’ll expect to get some words from the Florida faithful.
“That’s just kind of how Florida fans are,” Hurst said. “They aren’t the most welcoming of people, even though my sister does go there. So I support them a very small bit. That’s as far as my devotion goes.”