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Nov. 22, 2003

by David Brauer, Assistant Sports Information Director

Tonight’s game with rival Clemson means more than just bragging rights for 22 members of USC’s football team. For the final time in their careers, they will don the Gamecock uniform at Williams-Brice Stadium and run onto the field to the famous “2001” entrance before cheers from 82,000-plus fans.

While the first order of business will be to get a victory and earn bowl eligibility for USC, this group will savor every moment of this game. From here, some will go on to professional football careers while others will make their mark in the profession of their choosing in the “real” world.

The group consists of players who have been part of the South Carolina football program for anywhere from two to four seasons, and in some cases five. From varied backgrounds and locations, these players came to school at USC to play for head coach Lou Holtz. Some transferred from other schools, while others were around for Holtz’s first season of leading the Gamecocks. Many were part of the most successful two-year run in school history, notching 17 victories and two Outback Bowl victories over Ohio State during the 2000 and 2001 seasons.

“This senior class has been a group that has really matured and come along over their years at South Carolina,” said head coach Lou Holtz. “I think about the leadership and the caliber of people we have in this class and that’s impressive.”

Among the leaders of the senior class are this season’s team captains: Jeremiah Garrison, Dunta Robinson, Hart Turner and Travelle Wharton. The quartet has made major contributions to the program both on and off the field.

Each player, whether a star or role player, will take memories and values away from their experience with Carolina football. All have formed a bond with their teammates that have given them a unique camaraderie.

“What I will remember the most from playing here is the opportunity to face the best teams and players in the nation as part of the SEC,” said Daniel Weaver. “Running out of the tunnel in front of the roaring crowd before each game is something I will miss. At the same time, I take away the friendships formed with teammates and everyone associated with the program. The value of staying positive and working hard are things that have been part of my experience here.”

Fellow teammates and USC coaches have instilled values and philosophies outside of football that will stay with the players.

“The value of hard work is something that I will take from my time here,” said Gavin Ford. “Sooner or later you will see results and the fruit of your labor if you are persistent and work hard.”

Each senior wants to be remembered by his teammates and coaches as someone who gave everything they could during their playing days as a Gamecock.

“You want your teammates and coaches to remember you for being committed and putting forth your best effort,” said Kevin Caldwell. “When I look back, I want to know that I spent my time here productively and did not waste any of my opportunities. I made the most of my opportunities to contribute both on and off the field when they came to me.”

Not only will the players take something away from their experiences at South Carolina, but also the coaches will remember them and follow the careers and lives of those they have touched in the role of teacher and mentor. It is these values that their former student-athletes will carry with them after football and into the game of life.

“I really wish I could buy 10 percent of this senior class’ future,” said Holtz, “and I am not referring to professional football. I am referring to life and contributing to society and about being good fathers. I am talking about people who are going to be a real credit to this university for many years to come. That is how I will remember this class. It is a group that has great expectations in the future and I do not think any of us will be disappointed.”

The 2003 Gamecock Football Seniors

#52, Jeff Barnes, OL, Fayetteville, Ga.#40, Kevin Caldwell, LB, Cornelius, N.C.#8, Ted Crawford, DB, Lithonia, Ga.#19, Matthew Crockett, DB, Deerfield Beach, Fla.#83, Chavez Donnings, WR, Tallahassee, Fla.#28, Deandre' Eiland, DB, Tupelo, Miss.#35, Gavin Ford, FB, North Myrtle Beach, S.C.#33, Jeremiah Garrison, LB, Belton, S.C.#17, Mikal Goodman, WR, Daytona Beach, Fla.#95, Randy Jackson, DL, Lancaster, S.C.#50, Steven Kennedy, LB, Decatur, Ga.#30, Brian Lalli, WR, Manassas, Va.#53, Jeff Mullis, LB, Hilton Head Island, S.C.#32, Dunta Robinson, CB, Athens, Ga.#66, Natron Scott, DL, Kingstree, S.C.#10, Darel Slay, LB, Brunswick, Ga.#41, Isaac Stackhouse, DB, Dillon, S.C.#18, Deron Tentyon, WR, Columbia, S.C.#34, Rod Thomas, LB, DeLand, Fla.#49, Hart Turner, TE, Spartanburg, S.C.#97, Daniel Weaver, K, North Myrtle Beach, S.C.#68, Travelle Wharton, OT, Fountain Inn, S.C.