To clear up any confusion, first and foremost, it's pronounced like Cain, like Herman. Second, yes, it is the coolest name on the Gamecock roster (and second coolest in the athletic department, save Graham Saiko) and yes, Charlie Whitehurst (formerly of the Clemson Tigers and currently of the San Diego Chargers) is his cousin. You've probably only heard of him (Kane) once or twice, but that's probably going to change, very soon.
If you haven't heard, here's the story.
*CUE THE MUSIC. JUST DO IT.*
Walking onto a Division 1 football team and gaining a scholarship is an impressive feat, even if you are a decent athlete. You have to have an uncanny ability to fit into a new system, respond exceptionally well to the coaching provided and even if you surpass the prerequisites then you may still be passed over numerous times for a paid ride, simply because of how the numbers work out. However, the successful walk-on captures the imagination and resonates with a fan base more than any other player. Because of their everyman-ness we cry with them, we laugh with them, and we celebrate with them; they are of "us". South Carolina has had their fare share of talented walk-on's and each fall is it a treat to see if an unknown name can ascend the depth chart and achieve greatness. This is the (possible) prologue to one of those stories.
The (possible) Legend of Kane Whitehurst
A few days ago at the end of fall conditioning a ripple of a rumor took shape and erupted out of the depths of the Gamecock Twitterverse and message-boards that two Gamecocks ran a 4.3 second 40 yard dash during Fall conditioning. The first was world-caliber sprinter Damiere Byrd, obviously the fastest man on the team, but who would be this intrepid unknown? Surely it couldn't be Clowney (he was 0.4 seconds slower...*lolwut?*), perhaps it was David Williams, the new running back on campus?
Enter Kane Whitehurst. A RS Sophomore with a B.A. name and enough speed to go with it.
Let that soak in...say his name several times and let the syllables melt into your cranium because he may be another walk-on legend in the making (it just took you around 4.4 seconds to read that last sentence, by the way). Now a 4.4 40 is not extremely rare on the college football field, but a 4.3 is definitely a head turner, and most of the time players who have the physical ability to run a 4.3 are highly touted, not "under the radar" as Kane is, and certainly not a walk on. Naturally then, you're probably scratching your head about why you haven't heard more about him.
Whithurst played his high school ball in the loaded state of Georgia, at Chattahoochee High School in Fulton County (class of 2011), where he played wide receiver, running back, defensive back, and also served as special teams punt and kick-off returner. While there he amassed 2,234 all purpose yards with 1,378 of those being receiving yards and 17 touchdowns, along with an average 51.1 yards per kick-off return. This was good enough for Whitehurst to earn All State First Team selection, grab a AAAA state championship in 2010, and earn him the grace of being named North Fulton Offensive Player of the Year by the local town rag, the AJC, in 2011.
As a three-star recruit Kane pledged his allegiance to the Arkansas Razorbacks in January of 2011 after (then) Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino "discovered" him while visiting Chattahoochee High School to see another player. Offers from Vanderbilt, Tulane, Troy, and Eastern Michigan leaked in, but no other big time programs caught wind of the speedster from Atlanta. He was redshirted for the 2011 season but after some legal troubles elected to transfer to the University of South Carolina where he was told that to participate on the football team he would have to earn a position as a walk-on. Due to NCAA rules stating that a transfer must sit out a season, we did not see anything from Whitehurst 2012, which has given him time to rehab a shoulder injury. However, his eligibility returns for the 2013 season, and it's very hard to keep that type of speed off the football field for too long.
Time for some serious eye candy.
We still don't know how he will react under pressure, or how the staff will use him, but you've got to think that he'll be on the field at some point in time either as a special teams gunner, a kickoff or punt returner, or possibly even a slot receiver. When/where he ends up on the field will all depend on when the staff feels that he is comfortable enough with the playbook. Luckily, though, we don't have to wait too long because fall practice is underway (THANK GOD). Either way, be on the lookout for #85 this season.