Nearly a year ago we had a Q&A where we discussed the player departures that were hardest for us to accept as Gamecock fans. Today's question is along those same lines, but instead of talking about the players that are already gone we're going to talk about the ones that are still here. Which current Gamecock athlete are you going to miss the most when he/she leaves USC?
While you might expect me to go with basketball (given the screen name and all), there's one guy who I think we here at GABA are going to desperately miss when he's gone -
In his time at Carolina, Elliott Fry has:
Earned a scholarship
Responded to Twitter inquiries
Murdered an innocent windshield
Made Second Team All-SEC
Outscored the entire Arkansas team
Nailed a trick shot field goal
Nailed a massive, non-trick shot field goal to help beat Missouri
He's great on and off the field - what's not to love?
ChickenHoops stole my answer and pretty much covered all of the reasons why. I've accepted and embraced the fact that my favorite player on the football team last year was the kicker and that my favorite player next year will be the kicker and that I'll be heartbroken but overjoyed when he declares for the draft and goes as the #1 overall pick.
Anyway, I'll go with Max Schrock as a close second for the player that I'll miss the most. I've always had a lot of affection for him and now that Joey Pankake and Grayson Greiner are gone he's probably my favorite guy on the team. His career here has been plagued by injury but even when he's hurt he does things like this. How can you not love someone that fights for his team like that and comes through in the big moments?
Add another vote for FryDaddy/FREISMAN/SmallFry/Exotic Elliot. While I have nothing more to add other than while most would applaud Elliot for his talent and unique approach to social media interaction, my admiration stems from decades of Gamecock kicking that featured the likes of Reid Bethea, Daniel Weaver, and Jay Wooten. While the recent success of Carolina kickers from Succop to Lanning and, now, Fry, has erased those head-in-hands memories from many minds, it still lives on through the memories of games that got away.
Therefore, I'll call on the likes of Rory "Busta" Anderson, who's held the title of ‘most underrated pass-catcher' on the team throughout his four years at Carolina. At 15.6 yards per catch, his career average places him just behind Dameire Byrd and Sidney Rice, and ahead of Jared Cook (arguably the best TE in recent memory). His career was bright from the start; earning a spot to start, catching the game-winning touchdown against UT in 2011, and piling up the second-most receiving yards on the team for a freshman. While his final two years were hampered by numerous injuries, Busta still played all four years, never gave up, and has always been a model Gamecock off the field.
Take a trip to October 2011 with me, won't you? South Carolina was 6-1, but Marcus Lattimore was freshly sidelined with a torn ACL. Backups Kenny Miles, Eric Baker and Shon Carson were were also sidelined, which pressed our fifth string running back into duty. He was a lightly recruited true freshman from Blythewood, South Carolina. The situation seemed dire, but Brandon Wilds bruised his way to 137 yards rushing and 31 more receiving. (Hey, this game also featured Busta Anderson's first touchdown!) Wilds put up a few more 100 yard games that season, and after redshirting in 2012, has been a steady presence in the South Carolina lineup. He's always shared, if not yielded the spotlight to other backs: Miles, Mike Davis, and perhaps David Williams continues that trend in 2015. He's had to battle injuries, but he's made his share of high-visibility plays (most notably the gamewinning touchdown catch against Clemson in 2013), has been a terrific representative of the program and is an active bridge to a brighter era in South Carolina football. Plus, he's a local kid who made the most of his opportunity. I'll always remember his time in Columbia with fondness.
It's got to be Pharoh Cooper. Right? To say he was a savior last season may be an understatement. I don't want to imagine life without him. That said I've already sworn to name my first-born child after him, so in a way, I'll never experience his absence in my life.
Therefore, I have to go with Tiffany Mitchell, as the women's basketball team is closer to a national championship than all other major sports teams we currently hold. And, she is the ignition to recent success. The offensive duo of Mitchell and A'ja Wilson promises to entertain in 2016 and provides our best shot at a title. It'll only feel like a missed opportunity if they aren't able to bring home the hardware.