South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp said five players who have not exhausted their eligibility — three scholarship ones — will walk for his team Saturday, but none have made their choice about leaving or coming back.
The three most notable are senior quarterback Jake Bentley, and two redshirt juniors in offensive lineman Sadarius Hutcherson and tight end Kyle Markway. Muschamp said the discussion about their futures will take place after the season.
“We will have those discussions in December when the regular season is over move forward,” Muschamp said. “But certainly wanted them to have their opportunity to walk if they decide not to come back.”
Walk-on receiver Bailey Hart and defensive back Jaylan Foster also have choices to make.
Markway confirmed he will walk for senior day but could opt to return. Eleven of the 25 seniors have their degrees and 11 more get them this December.
Bentley has not played since the season opener when he suffered a foot injury on the final play. Bentley is fourth on the school’s all-time passing yardage list and third in all-time touchdowns.
Up to that point, Bentley had started more than 30 games across four seasons. He came in as a true freshman and led the team from 2-4 to a bowl game.
He then was the QB of a nine-win team, and posted career highs as a junior despite missing time with a knee injury.
Bentley’s situation is a little different than Hutcherson and Markway as both could come off full seasons looking toward the NFL, and Markway has already been in college for five years. Muschamp said those coversations are heavily focused on the NFL side of things.
“What input do we have from the NFL?” Muschamp said. “For where their evaluation would be. If they were to be drafted, where would they be drafted? And to kind of give them as much information as we can. From that standpoint. It’s not what I think it’s not what one of our assistant coaches thinks. It’s not what their parents think. It’s not what some agent thinks. It’s what the NFL thinks, and it’s what each, there’s 32 team. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
He said then it moves to what a player might need to do to improve that draft status. He retold the story of a former player, Jerraud Powers, who played for him at Auburn. After earning a degree, Powers was considering the NFL draft, and Muschamp told him to return if he wasn’t a first-round pick.
Powers answered the knock on him was his height (5-foot-9) and he likely wasn’t going to change that. Muschamp could only agree with the point. Powers was a third-round pick and spent eight years in the NFL.
Muschamp added he’ll support a player in whatever choice they make.
The 25 players expected to take part in Senior Day festivities include Michael Almond, Jake Bentley, T.J. Brunson, Joseph Charlton, Chavis Dawkins, Mon Denson, Rico Dowdle, Bryan Edwards, Daniel Fennell, Tavien Feaster, Jaylan Foster, Bailey Hart, Sadarius Hutcherson, J.T. Ibe, Javon Kinlaw, Caleb Kinlaw, Kyle Markway, Matt Oliveira, Kiel Pollard, Kobe Smith, Donell Stanley, Will Tommie, A.J. Turner, Eldridge Thompson and D.J. Wonnum.