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by Brandon Holtz, USC Sports Information

Conway, S.C., native George Gause knows the value of family and fans. The junior defensive end walks onto the field at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturdays knowing he is supported by a contingent of family and 80,250-plus fans dressed in a sea of garnet and black.

“It is great to play in front of your family because you know they have your back,” said Gause. “I was not here during the 0-11 season but all the older players still talk about the fans that supported them during that year. It’s fun to play in front of the home crowd and to know they are behind you in whatever situation you are in.”

Gause not only goes to battle each week with family members in the stands but also with one on the field. Redshirt junior defensive back Andrea Gause and George are first cousins. The duo played high school football together at Conway High. Growing up George and Andrea never discussed the possibility of playing collegiately together but it is something he welcomes.

“It’s fun; I’ve grown up with him all my life and we live next to each other back home in Conway,” said George. “We get along well and are just like brothers.”

A Shrine Bowl participant in high school and one of the nation’s top-ranked players, Gause enjoyed being recruited by a coaching legend like Lou Holtz.

“Being recruited by Coach Holtz was a fun experience,” said Gause. “He is a well known coach and motivator around the country. A lot of people know him and he is well-respected. It feels good just to play for him.”

The Hotel, Retail, and Tourism Management major was named to the SEC All-Freshman team in 2001. This season, Gause teams with 2002 Freshman All-American Moe Thompson to form possibly the best defensive end tandem in the Southeastern Conference. One would think the two players challenge each other to be the first one to the quarterback but Gause says that’s not so, “There is no competition like that between us, we just try to help the team out as much as we can.”

The most memorable moment thus far at USC for Gause was the 2002 Outback Bowl, where as a freshman he made his first collegiate start and recorded a team high 10 tackles and also had a quarterback sack. This season he and his teammates are striving to get back to a bowl game after a one-year absence.

“I want to help the team as much as I can, get some quarterback sacks and help lead the team in tackles,” said Gause. “I just want to do my best.”

It can only help that he has the support of his family and the Gamecock fans.