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McWhorter Scholarship Nominee Kai Kroeger has Big Plans After Football

by Brad Muller

Whether it’s making big plays with his leg, surprising opponents on special teams trick plays, or showing off his sense of humor in various radio ads for his NIL opportunities, South Carolina football’s punter Kai Kroeger is pretty well known by Gamecock fans. However, the rising fifth-year student-athlete is looking forward to a more anonymous role whenever his football playing days are over.

“I want to be in the Secret Service,” said Kroeger, who recently earned a degree in history with a minor in criminal justice and has earned numerous awards on and off the field, including First Team All-America honors in 2022 and several SEC Academic Honor Roll awards. Kroeger and Ayana Akli from women’s tennis were also recently named South Carolina’s nominees for the H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Post-Graduate Scholarship. “I’ve always had an interest in law enforcement, in general, and the military as well. I did some more research and learned a lot about the FBI and the Secret Service. I’ve spoken with some special agents and have gone to some meetings, and this is what has my biggest interest.

“I’ve learned that the Secret Service has a specific group called the Counter Assault Team, which is kind of like a Special Forces within the Secret Service. That’s what I am working towards.”

When the time comes, he hopes to attend the Secret Service training school, but he has other things to check off his list first, which includes continuing his education by using the McWhorter Scholarship to help earn his master’s degree in sport coaching. The SEC provides the league’s male and female McWhorter Scholar-Athlete of the Year Post-Graduate Scholarship recipients with a $20,000 post-graduate scholarship. The 26 remaining male and female finalists for the award will also receive a $10,000 post-graduate scholarship.

“After doing some research on what this was for, I realized this was probably one of the most rewarding things that has happened to me in my life,” Kroeger said of the award. “Obviously, I’m very proud of the on-field achievements, but I feel more pride in the off the field and academic successes.”

Kroeger inside
“My experience at South Carolina has been life-changing. Coming here has been the been the greatest decision in my life.”
Kai Kroeger  . 

When he’s done with college football and has earned his second degree, Kroeger is hoping to have a chance to keep playing in the NFL.

“When the season ends, I’ll train for Pro Day,” Kroeger said. “I hope to get a (NFL) combine invite or play in one of those senior bowl games. Then I have to wait on the draft and see if I can put myself in the best position possible.”

In addition to his skill on the field along with his outstanding academic work, Kroeger has gained popularity through Name, Image, and Likeness opportunities where his sense of humor is on display as a product spokesperson.

“There are a lot of negative views about NIL, and I’m not getting anything extravagant, but I’m super grateful for what I have received,” Kroeger said. “I’ve been able to use that opportunity in a positive way.”

For now, Kroeger is looking forward to one more year in the Garnet and Black.

“My experience at South Carolina has been life-changing,” Kroeger said. “Coming here has been the been the greatest decision in my life. I have met so many great people. Obviously, playing at Williams-Brice Stadium in front of all of our fans has been unbelievable, but outside of football, with all the connections I have made and the academic achievements I’ve had, that’s what I am the proudest of.”

The McWhorter Post-Graduate Scholarship recipients are chosen by a committee of Faculty Athletics Representatives from the 14 SEC institutions and are announced in May, as well as honored by the league membership at SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla.