Each tight end is in his first year on campus. Both have played sparingly across the first nine games of the 2019 season. The discussions as the start of the week centered on how much they might play, or not play, the rest of the season.
“I’d like to keep both redshirts on the guys if we could,” Muschamp said. “But at the end of the day, both guys want to do what’s best for the team.”
That last part is where things get tricky.
The Gamecocks are now terrifically thin at tight end. They lost Kiel Pollard and Evan Hinson in the preseason and played only Kyle Markway and former offensive lineman Chandler Farell in the opener. Their concerns were answered when William & Mary transfer Nick Muse was made eligible by the NCAA.
But a torn ACL ended his season, which leaves USC with Markway, Farrell (who is also working some on the line), Will Register, Kenion and Toney.
Toney played in his second game of the season last weekend, taking the field for the first time in seven weeks. That means he can only play in two more contests to keep his redshirt.
“We had discussions yesterday and Monday about where we are,” Muschamp said. “Trae Kenion has played in one. So he still has three more to still keep his redshirt. So those are, those are some things we’re continuing to work through.”
The question is more simple for Kenion than Toney, but it gets much murkier when it comes to the possibility of a bowl.
Unless the Gamecocks upset Clemson or Texas A&M, they’ve got three games left. That means Kenion can play them all and Toney would have to miss one. But based on how they’ve been played, it seems Toney is probably a little more advanced.
Kenion was the higher-rated recruit and came to Columbia off being the top receiver on an undefeated squad in North Carolina. He put up 43 receptions for 834 yards and 15 touchdowns, accounting for more than half his team’s production in each category.
The 6-foot-3, 235 pounder was set to enroll early but ended up joining the team halfway through spring ball. He had to work his way into shape and then missed much of August camp with an injury, further delaying his development.
Toney was an in-state product and put up 51 catches, 750 yards and nine TDs as a senior, despite missing some time with injury. He got a full spring practice in and impressed teammates with his work ethic.
A season ago, the Gamecocks burned the redshirt of linebacker Ernest Jones so he could play in the Belk Bowl. The team was badly hit by injuries, and he played seven snaps.
Now with Muse out, and only Markway, Farell and Register available, the question becomes who else chips in, and can the Gamecocks balance getting that extra year and chasing wins late in a season?
“We’ve got two left with KeShawn, three with Trae to figure out how we want to make this thing work,” Muschamp said.