Before South Carolina football‘s game against Vanderbilt, Muse explained he takes things with a relentless positivity. Even if his team had a losing record, he was just thankful to be where he was.
Even after he tore his ACL, ending his 2019 season and robbing him of the chance to play against his brother in the Clemson game, his coach and teammates said that outlook hasn’t waned.
“He’s in good spirits,” Markway said. “It’s like nothing happened. He’s a very positive guy. He’s just thankful that he’s got the opportunity to go through it.
“I saw it and it hurt me.”
That didn’t stop Markway from sharing of his own experience.
This weekend, Markway will walk as part of South Carolina’s senior day ceremony. He still has a chance to play another year in garnet and black, but after five years in the program, he will at least walk with a few players he came in with and a few who came the next year before making his final decision.
Just reaching this point is an accomplishment of sorts for Markway. He held onto a level of belief in a spot when many wouldn’t. His career had a low point, but he didn’t let it become an endpoint.
“When I was going through those injuries, that’s kind of what motivated me,” Markway said. “I always had the plan in the back of my head that I’ll get through it, you know, and one day I’d be starting out there. So that was my motivation at the time.”
Markway played in 12 games is a true freshman. He came into 2016, coach Will Muschamp‘s first season, with an unproven group of tight ends.
But a foot injury dogged him for the entire season, keeping him off the field. He came back the next year, ready to go, and then his second game, a trip to his home state of Missouri with his family in the stands, he suffered a rib injury that cost him another year.
Other tight ends seemed to be establishing themselves. Many a career that has hit that point ends with a meeting with the coach and a name disappearing off the roster.
But, as he shared his experience with Muse, someone shared their experience with him.
“I told Nick this,” Markway said. “I mean you’re going to be in a dark place, but you’ve got to take that and put it into something. I had Hayden Hurst, who went through a similar situation, and he just put it towards lifting weights. And that’s what I tried to do.”
Hurst battled anxiety and depression after his minor league baseball career was derailed. He came to Columbia as a walk-on in his early 20s, didn’t find a permanent position until his second season and then broke records on the way to being a first-round NFL draft pick.
Markway might not do all that, but what he has accomplished, considering where he started, is pretty impressive.
“A guy that just continues to persevere and fight and understand that 10% of life is what happens to you and 90% is what you do about it,” Muschamp said. “Handling it the right way, staying positive, just continuing to come into work everyday with a hardhat mentality to achieve what he wanted to achieve. He’s a really good football player.”
Last season, he became a rotation player, catching his first touchdown and rising as high as the team’s No. 3 or even No. 2 tight end when injury struck.
This season, he projected to be the blocker to Kiel Pollard’s receiving threat, but then Pollard was lost to a genetic spinal condition.
Through nine games, Markway ranks third on the team in receptions and yards, holding down the spot as Muse was ineligible at the start of the year and had to work his way into playing SEC football.
And Markway, a veteran who might not be here at all but for his own perseverance, now holding down the fort and sharing the lessons of coming from his own dark place to a celebration of his time as a Gamecock.
“It hasn’t really hit me, you know?” Markway said. “I’m just kind of focused on the game, but when it’s all, probably while I’m walking, it’ll hit me. I made it, it’s special. It’s been a fun ride.”