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By Matthew Shoultz, USC Sports Information

USC’s Travelle Wharton took the field for the final time at Williams-Brice Stadium Saturday night after being a fixture on the Gamecock offensive line. Over the last four years, the native of Fountain Inn, S.C., started 44 of 48 games during his career at USC. Wharton attributes his success to the great coaching and great teammates he has had in his time at USC.

“I would have to attribute my success to good coaching and having great people around me,” said Wharton. “I had the chance to go against a great defense and great players every day and with that you can’t help but get better.”

Wharton has accomplished many things at USC including being named 2000 Freshman All-American and All-SEC. However there is one honor that the 6-4, 315 pound senior places at the top of his accomplishments.

“Being named the team captain is the highlight of my playing days at Carolina,” said the co-captain. “That shows that my peers around me respect me enough to vote me in as a team captain and that is really special. For the guys that I sweat with everyday to name me team captain means that they depend on me and that really means a lot to me.”

Coming to USC has helped Wharton become a solid leader and citizen. He has enjoyed his time at USC and learned what it takes to be successful in football and in life thanks to Coach Holtz and the USC coaching staff.

“I’ve grown up a lot,” said Wharton. “I’ve learned how to take care of my business and be on time for things. Coach Holtz has taught me to persevere. You are going to have your good times and your bad times and how you handle those bad times shows what type of person you are. I have learned that everything is not going to be good all the time. Your true success is how you handle adversity.”

Wharton, expected to be drafted early in the NFL April’s draft, hopes that his experience here at Carolina will help him to become an everyday player at the next level. Growing up a Dallas Cowboys fan, Wharton lists the Cowboys as the team he would play for if he had a choice; however, he relishes the chance to play with any team.

“I grew up wanting to play for Dallas so that would be the NFL destination I would choose if I could,” said Wharton. “But really, it would be great to play for any team. I just want to get there and work hard. If I do that everything else will take care of itself.”

Being from the upstate, Wharton grew up watching the Carolina-Clemson rivalry. Now, being a Carolina student-athlete, Wharton understands the significance of the rivalry but places the emphasis on it being the last regular-season game each year.

“It is an intense instate rivalry,” said Wharton. “For me personally, it is huge because I am from the upstate so there are a lot of Clemson people around me. It’s the last game of the season and you always want to start off strong and end strong so that adds importance.”

Wharton looks forward to his future and the future of Carolina football and sees only good things to come.

“The future here at USC will be great,” said Wharton. “I can’t wait to come back and tailgate and watch these guys compete for the championships year in and year out. We have built a foundation and it’s going to be great to watch players carry it on.”

One thing is certain; Wharton will go down as one of the greatest linemen ever to wear the garnet and black, with his contributions having a significant impact both on and off the field.