Breaking Down the Tight Ends
Aug. 18, 2017
Maybe the deepest position on the field for the Gamecocks this season is at tight end. Tight ends coach Pat Washington is blessed to coach five players who have contributed in a significant way, and a couple others who are talented and waiting for their opportunity.
Because of the depth, the Gamecocks could employ two tight ends in many of their offensive alignments to get the best 11 players on the field and to take advantage of the mismatches that creates. Several of the tight ends will also be used on special teams.
The tight end conversation has to start with 6-5, 250-pound junior Hayden Hurst. The first Gamecock to be named a team captain as a sophomore, Hurst brings leadership and a work ethic each and every day. The former professional baseball player’s story is well-documented. The Jacksonville, Fla., product came to Carolina as a walk-on after retiring from the diamond, worked his way into some playing time, primarily at wide receiver as a true freshman, then exploded on the scene as a sophomore, setting school records for receptions (48) and yards receiving (616) in a season by a tight end. Now in his junior campaign, the sky is the limit for Hurst, who has gained some attention as a preseason All-SEC selection and could play his way into an All-America candidate and NFL prospect.
While Hurst was a frequent target last season, he was able to find the end zone just one time, that coming in the Birmingham Bowl game against USF. That wasn’t the case for junior K.C. Crosby. Crosby, a 6-1, 242-pounder from Bamberg, S.C., scored on four of his 23 receptions, tying for the team lead in touchdown receptions. He is expected to be an integral part of the offense again this season as an “H-Back.”
Another junior who will be counted on this year is former walk-on Jacob August. A local product who prepped at Cardinal Newman in Columbia, August has grown into a 6-6, 258-pounder who earned a scholarship in the spring. August is considered one of the better blocking tight ends on the team, but has also shown good hands, and will get plenty of opportunities to contribute this fall.
A pair of sophomores expect to play a role again this season as well. Kyle Markway, a 6-5, 250-pounder from St. Louis, Mo., is healthy again after missing all of the 2016 season with a foot injury. He saw significant action two years ago as a true freshman, and looks to get back into the regular rotation, now as a redshirt sophomore.
Kiel Pollard, a 6-0, 240-pounder from Moultrie, Ga., gained some experience at tight end and on special teams last season as a true freshman. His role should only increase this year as he has gained a better understanding of the offense.
Redshirt freshman Evan Hinson had an interesting freshman campaign, but most of it came outside of football. After the 6-4, 240-pounder from Deltona, Fla. took a redshirt year as a true freshman on the gridiron, he took his skills to the hardwood, where he was a reserve player on Frank Martin’s Final Four men’s basketball team. Hinson missed all of the spring drills as the Carolina cagers made their epic NCAA tournament run, but is back playing football this fall and will have an opportunity to showcase his athletic skills.
True freshman Will Register, a local product from Chapin, S.C. was the first player to commit to the Gamecocks in the 2017 signing class. The 6-4, 245-pounder may not get many opportunities this year, but figures to play a prominent role over the next several seasons.
Walk-on Caleb Jenerette, a 6-2, 200-pounder from Aynor, S.C., rounds out the corps of tight ends.
Tight Ends (8)
Jacob August Jr.
K.C. Crosby Jr.
Hayden Hurst Jr.
Kyle Markway So.
Kiel Pollard So.
Evan Hinson R-Fr.
Caleb Jenerette Fr.
Will Register Fr.