Culliver Out, Markett In

Following Monday night's practice, coaches and players met with the media. Chris Culliver's Gamecock career is over after suffering a shoulder injury during the Tennessee game. Marty Markett will get a shot to play Saturday night when the Gamecocks host the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Chris Culliver's South Carolina career is over. Marty Markett's is about to take off. Culliver injured his shoulder in Saturday's 38-24 win over the Tennessee Volunteers and will miss the remainder of the 2010 season. Due to a lack of depth in the secondary, Markett - a walk-on from York, SC - will be second in line behind C.C. Whitlock when the Gamecocks face the Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday night.

"Yes, he's done," Gamecock defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said of Culliver's injury following Monday night's practice. "The tear is probably going to take six months to rehab so I think he's done."

Culliver was injured while reaching out to grab a Tennessee receiver from behind.

Culliver - despite having some on-field issues with personal fouls - will go down in the record books as a Gamecock great. Culliver owns the school record in both kickoff attempts and kickoff return yards. Culliver will finish his career with 106 returns and 2,476 kickoff return yards. Culliver had a legitimate shot at becoming the SEC career leader in return yards, but was pulled from those duties to focus all his attention on helping out the secondary issues that have plagued the defense all season.

"Chris being a senior and already having a couple of shoulder surgeries and now he tears a pec in the opposite arm (is tough)," Ward said. "He's just got to keep the faith and keep working hard and hopefully he'll still have an opportunity to play at the next level if that's in the good Lord's Will. If not, Chris is doing well in school and he'll get his degree so he'll be fine."

With an already-thin secondary being further depleted, Whitlock will start the game but will be backed up by Markett and Jimmy Legree.

"C.C. will be starting the game," Ward said. "But Marty Markett will back him up and we'll see if we can get Jimmy ready to play a little bit too.

"I feel good about them," Ward continued. "C.C. played a lot last year and played a lot for us this season, and Marty has shown that he can help this team on special teams so we'll see what he can do on defense."

Prior to Saturday's post-game press conference, many Gamecock fans had never heard of Marty Markett. Markett drew the attention of Spurrier following the game, enough for Spurrier to mention the junior by name.

"He was hustling his tail off covering punts, kickoffs and everything," Spurrier said following the game. "He wasn't quite fast enough for Coach Frye over there, so he came out for football. He'll probably be on scholarship as early as we can get him on. He's proved he's a real football player."

Markett's road has been a long, painful one. Markett signed with South Carolina in 2007 to run track, choosing Coach Frye's program over Georgia Tech, Clemson, Tennessee, and Coastal Carolina. Markett earned All-American honors as part of the 4X100 meter relay in 2008. Markett lost his track scholarship following the year and decided to be a walk-on for the football team in 2009. However, Markett's season ended before it even started.

"Last year I had to redshirt - dislocated my wrist the NC State week," Markett said. "I didn't have to practice any, so I just worked and saved every check I could to help pay for school."

Keeping hopes alive of playing football while juggling a full-time school schedule and working long, hard hours in a warehouse to pay for it all would be enough to make most people want to just give up. Not Markett.

"I came back in the spring and worked hard," Markett said. "Things were going good - then this fall semester started and I missed two classes early in the year so I was on academic probation. But that's all worked out now and I'm doing well in classes and I'm on top of things."

On the football field, Markett worked his way onto special teams. Markett has played in four games and has recorded one tackle. However, his hustle was enough for Spurrier to throw out a plea to Ward following the game Saturday.

"I'm going to go advertise for him to Coach Ward right now," Spurrier said. "I'd like to see him out there playing defense. I think we need to make some changes with some guys anyway. Maybe it's time Marty Markett got a chance to go play a little bit."

With the injury to Culliver, Spurrier will get his wish. Markett should get plenty of opportunities backing up Whitlock.

"It feels good knowing that I have a chance to play," Markett said. "Regardless of what happens, I come out here every day and work hard and I'm always prepared, so if the coaches call on me Saturday I'll be ready."

Getting the opportunity to play against the Razorbacks in the secondary on Saturday was not the best thing to happen to Markett on Monday. Markett got much more important news earlier in the day from Spurrier.

"Coach (Spurrier) talked to me today and said I'll be receiving a scholarship in the spring," Markett said. "That will really help me out a lot and take a lot of stress off me and my family paying for school."

It appears that Markett's long, winding road is looking much brighter. Regardless of what happens on the field Saturday night, Markett's dreams are already coming true.

"It feels good just to be part of the team and to contribute," Makett said. "I love playing in that stadium (Williams-Brice) right there. I've always believed that if you have doubts on anything you shouldn't try it, so I never doubted it. "

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