‘Come be the first, not the next,’ Muschamp tells recruits
Roster attrition happens for the South Carolina football team just like it would anywhere else in the country.
This August, the Gamecocks have already seen a pair of players depart the roster, running back Lavonte Valentine transferring out and tight end Kiel Pollard being forced to retire because of a medical condition. Assuming Pollard takes a medical hardship waiver, the Gamecocks would be at 83 scholarships heading into the season, with the additional assumption that a final freshman makes it in.
And that means something important for one part of the roster.
“We know exactly where that number stands, so anytime that a scholarship opens up, you better believe every walk-on is on their toes waiting to see, ‘Is my is it my shot?’ ” offensive lineman/tight end Chandler Farrell said.
With those two open spots, two scholarships can be awarded to players who have been on campus for two seasons (otherwise they would count against class limits). It’s worth noting it takes some steps with the NCAA to fully get those spots open.
Farrell was the second-to-last walk-on to be granted one, and his good friend Parker White, the team’s starting kicker, got his during the spring game.
South Carolina usually hands at least one walk-on a scholarship every semester or two.
Farrell said it’s something walk-ons are always keenly aware of — the number is something they always have in the back of their minds. That vast majority of walk-ons don’t earn that payoff, but a few do, whether it be for hard work or just blossoming into a good player.
“Speaking from personal experience, yeah when you know that, there’s always a set number of scholarships, right?” Farrell said. “And everyone who’s a walk-on doesn’t have one always knows what what our number is. We know if we’re one down or one over.”
With the potential for two spots, it’s worth looking at a few top candidates for potentially getting one of those fun surprise videos and special moments when someone announces the news and teammates pile on in celebration.
▪ Spencer Eason-Riddle: The linebacker from North Carolina is entering Year 4 at USC. He played in every game as a special-teamer last season and spent a little time at fullback. He plans to play two more seasons as he gets his master’s degree.
▪ Caleb Kinlaw: A running back who transferred from Wisconsin by way of junior college, he emerged as a reliable special-teams player two years ago. A torn ACL nearly ended his career last season, but the NCAA gave him a year back. As a senior, he’d also come off the scholarship roll after one season.
▪ Bailey Hart: The former quarterback from Wando High School transitioned to wide receiver and helped out on special teams when injuries struck last season. He played in five games and caught a pass in a season-opening blowout.
Beyond those three, USC has a rather limited number of walk-ons who have been on campus longer than two seasons, most of whom haven’t played much. The group includes kicker Alex Woznick, who lost a starting job in 2017; offensive lineman Cameron Johnson; defensive lineman Jazuun Outlaw; linebacker Sean McGonigal; linebacker Alex DeLoach; and running back Slade Carroll.