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Season Preview: The Tight Ends

Aug. 17, 2016

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Gamecocksonline.com will take a position-by-position look at the South Carolina football roster leading up to the September 1 season opener at Vanderbilt. Today we will focus on the tight ends.

Lettermen Returning: Rivers Bedenbaugh, K.C. Crosby, Hayden Hurst, Kyle Markway

Lettermen Lost: Jerell Adams

Squadmen Returning: Jacob August

Roster Newcomers: Evan Hinson, Kiel Pollard, Robert Tucker III, Matthew Weigel

Tight ends coach Pat Washington will be looking to replace Jerell Adams, who was a sixth-round selection in the NFL Draft. Despite that loss, the tight end position could prove to be strength for the squad. Washington said that he hopes to have five guys ready for a game situation. "I don't have the five in order right now, we're still working on it," said Washington. "I would say by this Saturday, I will have a great idea of exactly where I am." Washington believes he has a versatile group that can be used in a lot of ways, including two-tight end sets.

The coaching staff is excited about the potential of sophomore Hayden Hurst, citing his athleticism, experience and maturity. The 6-5, 250-pound former professional baseball player, earned some playing time last season after not seeing the gridiron for a number of years and continues to develop. "He's got receiver skills," said Washington. "He can play outside and play receiver, but more importantly, he's gotten better as a blocker. He's more physical at the point of attack, which is really, really good and something we need. Plus he can get out and play like a receiver. We're excited because he can run and he's strong."

Redshirt sophomore K.C. Crosby was listed as a co-starter along with Hurst entering the fall. He has fallen a little behind, as he was limited during the first couple of weeks of camp with an injury. Listed at 6-1, 227 pounds, Crosby is more of an H-back. "He's a guy who's powerful enough to play on the line and he's swift enough to play outside," noted Washington. "I'm excited where he is. Conditioning-wise, he has continue to work at it to get a little bit better, but I think he'll be ok."

Sophomores Kyle Markway and Jacob August gained some valuable experience last fall and provide more options. Markway, a 6-5, 245-pounder from St. Louis, has been held out of the fall drills as he recovers from foot surgery. He hopes to return in the next couple of weeks. In his absence, August, a 6-6, 248-pound walk-on from Elgin, S.C. has proved to be a serviceable replacement. "Right now, I think he's done a great job," said Washington of August's performance early in camp. "K.C. was out the first couple of weeks and Jacob did a (nice) job of stepping in. He's probably about 250 (pounds) right now. I think 250 is a good weight for him, as long as he's strong enough and can handle the point of attack. You've got to be able to run around as a tight end in this system."

Rivers Bedenbaugh, a 6-2, 256-pound junior from Leesville, S.C., earned a letter last season as a blocking fullback. With the position basically phased out of the Carolina offense this year, Bedenbaugh has been working with the tight ends and could see action in a two-tight end set.

Four newcomers joined the team this fall hoping to work their way into the rotation. Evan Hinson, Kiel Pollard and Robert Tucker III are a trio of scholarship players, while Matthew Weigel adds depth as a walk-on. Hinson, a 6-4, 238-pounder from Deltona, Fla., is a gifted athlete, who is considering spending the winter with the Gamecock basketball squad. He is working his way back from a torn meniscus in his knee. Pollard, a 6-0, 230-pounder from Moultrie, Ga., originally signed as a wide receiver, but has been taking reps at tight end and has impressed.


 

 

 

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