USC Gamecocks Football

Pro football is Plan B for USC’s Garrison Gist

South Carolina fullback Garrison Gist has two options – play pro football or become an artist.
South Carolina fullback Garrison Gist has two options – play pro football or become an artist. dmclemore@thestate.com

He was there, running sprints and lifting weights like the rest of them. The opportunity was there, so he might as well accept it, right?

But Garrison Gist didn’t approach South Carolina’s Pro Day as a make-or-break event. Of course, he would love to get a shot at pro football, but at the same time, he kept a level head about his chances.

“Pro Day was always the Plan B,” Gist said. “I have the Plan A in getting my degree.”

Gist graduated last May with a degree in art studio and design, and is finishing graduate studies in art history. He’s completing an internship at 701 Whaley, in charge of displaying the different exhibitions in the gallery, and continuing to enjoy the life of the unheralded.

He dressed for a lot of games over three years but hardly played, which mirrored his studies. There were several times Gist would display his work on campus and people had no idea the artist was a 242-pound fullback who spent his afternoons crashing into defensive linemen.

A top amateur powerlifter and former football state champion at Northwestern High, Gist has become known for hard work in whatever he does. Tagged “Oompa Loompa” by former running backs coach Everette Sands, Gist showed off to the NFL scouts and hoped for a phone call.

Thus far, he hasn’t received any, but he expected that. He’ll be in Columbia through July finishing his internship and fine-tuning his body and his work. If nothing else, he’ll cut a distinctive figure in job interviews.

“I don’t have an agent. Most people probably didn’t know about me until (Pro Day) when I did the drills,” Gist said. “I’ve been sending out my resume and applications to museums all over. Hopefully, I’ll land in one of the ones in Charlotte.”

Gist has become known in the USC locker room for quick sketches of cartoon characters with dead-on accuracy. It’s always been a hobby, first drawing characters from the animated movies he watched as a child and then trying to match illustrations he would see around campus.

The speed and skill could come in handy. The dream is to someday work at Disney animation. The job would require precise drawings of characters with little notice.

“You got to get those characters quick,” Gist said. “I’m holding off on it. Somewhere down the line, I’m still looking to get into it.”

There’s some trepidation, but he’s approaching it like he did Pro Day.

“I’ve been training for three months,” Gist said. “There’s nothing to be nervous about. Just come out and have fun.”

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