Josh Kendall

K.C. Crosby knows the expectation; 'Hayden Hurst, huh?'

South Carolina tight end KC Crosby catches a pass Saturday during the spring game at Williams-Brice Stadium.
South Carolina tight end KC Crosby catches a pass Saturday during the spring game at Williams-Brice Stadium. dmclemore@thestate.com

The question is as obvious as it is daunting: Can South Carolina tight end K.C. Crosby step up and fill the role left by Hayden Hurst in his final season with the Gamecocks?

“Hayden Hurst, huh? That’s some big shoes to fill,” Crosby said. “I’ve learned a lot from him. I feel like I can catch the ball and do catch the ball well. That would be one of my standout characteristics about my game.”

It’s one that Crosby hasn’t had as much opportunity to showcase in his career. His best season came in 2016, when he caught 23 passes for 217 yards and four touchdowns. His other three seasons combined, two of which were cut short by injury, totaled two catches for 11 yards and no touchdowns. Last season, he played in seven games with one start before breaking his leg against Arkansas.

“It’s a blessing to be out here flying around full speed,” he said this spring. “It’s been tough, but I’ve been blessed enough to have people around me to keep me rooted and grounded. It was tough last year, but you had plenty of guys who suffered injuries like Deebo (Samuel) and Bryson (Allen-Williams). We all came in together, and we planned on leaving at the same time and now we are all coming back together. I feel like that’s kind of a blessing in disguise that we’re all coming back this year. It’s going to be interesting.”

Crosby worked this spring in many two-tight end sets along with Jacob August and often lined up in the slot receiver position in parts of practice open to the media. As for the depth chart this fall, Crosby offered no predictions.

“I just play my role,” he said. “I just take my reps, get better every day. All of us in the room get better every day.”

Quarterback Jake Bentley praised Crosby’s development.

“Throw to whoever is open is the big thing,” Bentley said. “Hayden got open, but so do Jake and K.C. They each have their ways of getting open and making plays. The amount of balls has not really changed.”

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