The South Carolina Gamecocks don’t need a reminder of how much their rivalry with Clemson has undergone a 180-degree reversal over the last four years.
The hurt is especially piercing for the in-state natives of USC’s team which does not have a single player on the roster who played in the Gamecocks’ last victory over the Tigers.
When asked about how to explain the rivalry to their out-of-state teammates and newcomers, South Carolina players responded near-unanimously, “You have to experience it in person to understand it.”
Linebacker TJ Brunson has had the experience of playing for his hometown team, but wasn’t always a fan of USC as he and his brother grew up rooting for Clemson. Brunson now carries the garnet and black flag as close as anyone, and has persuaded his brother to do the same:
LB TJ Brunson
Much of the angst of this rivalry, especially on the USC side, comes from players who weren’t recruited by, or under-recruited by Clemson.
Wide Receiver Bryan Edwards of Conway originally committed to the Gamecocks under Steve Spurrier, but also considered Clemson after Spurrier’s departure.
He came to USC instead with the promise of playing wide receiver, as opposed to the Tigers who recruited him as an athlete without a particular position in mind.
Edwards hopes that the Palmetto Bowl can serve as his proving ground:
WR Bryan Edwards
While Edwards was under the radar at Clemson, fellow wide receiver Deebo Samuel escaped the radar of most of the country in recruiting much like he’s done on kickoff returns at South Carolina. Samuel’s only Power-Five offers outside of the Gamecocks came from Maryland, UNC, NC State and Vanderbilt.
The wide receiver from Inman doesn’t hold a particular grudge toward Clemson, but he says most of his family has always pulled for the “Block C”:
WR Deebo Samuel
Offensive Lineman Zack Bailey had a relatively late indoctrination to the rivalry compared to other teammates who went to High School in the Palmetto State. Bailey’s family moved to South Carolina from Washington when he was in 8th Grade, and didn’t fully have an answer to the most-asked question in the state,
“Carolina or Clemson?”.
Bailey says he’s thankful he can now provide a definite response:
OL Zack Bailey
South Carolina and Clemson square off on Saturday night at 7 PM on ESPN.