There’s no place like home, especially when dealing with the grind of being a walk-on.
For a few players on the Gamecocks football team, a quick visit to see family and friends is never far away.
“It’s awesome,” said Jacob “Dan” August, a walk-on tight end from Cardinal Newman. “Whenever I have a tough practice or something goes wrong in class, I can just go down the road and see the people that I grew up with.”
Not much has gone wrong for August, though. He’s No. 2 on the depth chart behind Jerell Adams and had a touchdown catch in South Carolina’s 31-14 victory against UCF this past Saturday.
August shares the hometown advantage with several other walk-on players from the Midlands, including fullback Rivers Bedenbaugh from Lexington High, wide receiver Matrick Belton from Keenan High and linebacker Cedrick Malone from Camden High.
Long snapper Drew Williams from Dutch Fork High and running back Darius Paulk from Richland Northeast High were members of the local walk-on club until they earned scholarships in the spring.
“Me and Bedenbaugh live right down the road from each other,” August said. “We definitely have a special bond and talk about things like what it’s like to go home and who we know.”
Bedenbaugh, who enjoys going home and eating lunch with his grandmom on Sundays, has the goal of earning a scholarship, but he also believes there is a little bit of an advantage to being a walk-on.
“Some of us play with a chip on our shoulder because we are out to prove ourselves more than the other guys,” he said.
Bedenbaugh, Belton and August all grew up rooting for the Gamecocks, and all of them have felt a connection to the school.
“I just want to start small,” Belton said of his goals. “I want to earn my way into some playing time and help the team anyway they need it.”
Belton, who is listed as the No. 2 wide receiver behind Pharoh Cooper, has four catches and is tied for fourth most on the team.
Bedenbaugh is the starter at fullback when the Gamecocks use that formation but does not have any carries through the first four games.
Ultimately, the goal is to contribute enough to receive scholarships like Williams and Paulk.
“It’s always the goal,” Bedenbaugh said. “But whatever happens, I’m just living the dream and I’ll do whatever helps the team.”
GAMECOCKS vs. TIGERS
Who: USC (2-2) at Missouri (3-1)
When: Saturday, noon
Where: Faurot Field, Columbia, Mo.
Line: Missouri by 4