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Gamecocks Take Part in Annual Pigskin Poets Program
Football  . 

Gamecocks Take Part in Annual Pigskin Poets Program

July 20, 2018

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South Carolina football student-athletes traded in helmets and shoulder pads for books to help inspire youngsters in the Columbia area through the Gamecocks’ annual Pigskin Poets event at the Charles Drew Wellness Center. South Carolina’s partnership with the Richland County Library helped promote literacy and the importance of reading during the summer for the 22nd year.

“It was so fun last year when I did it and had the chance to read to some of the kids, so I wanted to do it again,” said redshirt freshman quarterback Jay Urich. “It’s something that I’m passionate about. I love kids. Whenever they told us we were doing it again, I wanted to be a part of it.”

“It is the first community outreach event all of our freshmen football players participate in, and we have select upperclassman that participate as well,” said Megan Stoltzfus, Director of Student-Athlete Development for South Carolina Athletics.

I think we get as much out of it as the kids do. I’d do it again.

Jay Urich

Former Gamecock Marcus Lattimore, who is now the football program’s director of player development, also attended.

“When I learned about it when I first got here and found out that it was a tradition with South Carolina football players, I was excited,” Lattimore said. “It was the first time I really had the chance to put on the jersey. Just seeing the kids and how they responded to you, it opened me up to the platform that we do have as football players in Columbia.

“Now, I tell our guys how important it is to realize how big of a difference you can make in somebody’s life just because you wear a Carolina football jersey. It gives a lot of people a purpose. To have that kind of impact on somebody is invaluable. So, use it, and do the right things.”

The event was special for junior defensive lineman Kobe Smith, a sport and entertainment management major, who has been interning with the Richland County Public Library and works on various community outreach initiatives.

“We go to a lot of housing complexes, apartment complexes and summer camps,” Smith said. “It’s a lot of fun. We read to kids and hang out with them. With what we’re doing today, it feels good to do things with kids, and it feels good to have someone look up to you.”

The Gamecocks made a grand entrance to the event to the theme of 2001 as the youngsters cheered. Cocky and Gamecock cheerleaders were also on hand as the student-athletes read stories, played games and signed autographs with hundreds of young fans.

“I think we get as much out of it as the kids do,” Urich said. “I’d do it again.”