One conversation has already taken place. Another will to determine the next steps in Keir Thomas’ career.
The Gamecocks veteran has been sidelined for South Carolina’s first five football games because of an infection after ankle surgery. Sit out four or five more, and he’ll have the chance to come back next year as a fifth-year senior.
USC coach Will Muschamp updated Thomas’ recovery progress on Tuesday, and explained how the choice might be made.
“He and I sat down about a week ago and just had a conversation,” Muschamp said. “We’re still working through some things. He is working out. He’s moving around well, and then we got to get him in shape. We really had to shut him down through that time when they had when they discovered the infection and he’s been shut down for about a month and a half. So he started back working out. I want to say about a week and a half ago
“Whenever they decide to clear him, we’re going to have another conversation about what we need to do moving forward.”
Muschamp had floated the idea of a redshirt for Thomas, and Travaris Robinson had talked about wanting him back for the stretch run.
Thomas started 23 games across 2017 and 2018. He was seventh on the team with 44 tackles in 2018, plus 4 1/2 for loss and 1 1/2 sacks.
Thomas played both end and tackle in his time in Columbia, filling in where it’s needed. If he comes back, he’s be a veteran on a team set to lose a trio of valuable seniors in Javon Kinlaw, Kobe Smith and D.J. Wonnum. At the moment, the team only has a few junior rotation defensive linemen.
Thomas was one of the key gets in Muschamp’s first class in Columbia. Coming out of Miami, he was thrown into the fire and because a consistent contributor up until this season.
“He’s in good spirits and as frustrating as it’s been for him and us and everybody, he’s working his butt off and trying to get back to where he could play,” Muschamp said.