Excitement building for USC students

University of South Carolina students lined up outside the Russell House early Monday morning, each waiting to get their first student ticket for year three of the Steve Spurrier Era. Excitement in Gamecock Nation is running wild with some students waiting up to six hours for a ticket. Read inside for GamecockAnthem's in depth report.

Monday morning marked the first student ticket distribution of the year for the USC student body. The first distribution of the year and the college careers of first year students is always an exciting time on campus and signals football season is truly here. With the doors for the event slated to open at 7 a.m., many students made the early trip to the Russell House to get their ticket for the Gamecocks' season opener against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns.

While many students wanting their tickets early arrived between the hours of 6 and 7 a.m., this was not near early enough for second-year Marketing and Management double major, Shaun McCrary. Loaded with Gamecock tent, fold out chairs, blankets and a late-night Sonic run, McCrary and friends arrived at the Russell House doors shortly after 1 a.m.

McCrary, along with third-year Early Education major Brenna Kendrick, second-year Exercise Science major Jeff Bierle, and freshman Cameron Jones, wanted to create a memory and said camping out for the event was "a new tradition" for the group of friends.

Joining McCrary and his friends in line later in the night were fourth-year Sports Management majors Mike Mayer and Colby Ammons, who arrived sometime around 4 a.m., but maintain it was actually just "shortly after those guys". Mayer and Ammons brought friends and chairs as well. While McCrary says he has been a fan since arriving in Columbia as a student a year ago, Mayer has been a fan his entire life and says his "major is actually college football" and the real reason he is a student. Ammons, frustrated he wasn't first in line, declared he would be taking a redshirt and returning for his "fifth year just to be here at midnight next year".

Much of the excitement building on campus is due to Coach Spurrier announcing the team is ready to compete for an SEC title, combined with many students' eagerness to see South Carolina's #7 ranked recruiting class on the field. While McCrary is specifically looking forward to seeing linebacker Melvin Ingram in action, wide receivers Chris Culliver and Jason Barnes as well as defensive ends Travian Robertson and Cliff Matthews were also among the crowd's favorite newcomers.

Students are sometimes overlooked in the big business of major college football, but as shown by their passion on Monday morning, students are the heart and soul of the University. While most fans in the stadium are sitting on their portion of the Williams-Brice bleachers, the students are standing or jumping up and down on theirs the entire game.

With all of the off-field distractions, maybe all Gamecock fans should do is simply believe in this year's team like the students. When asked why they would want to camp out so early for tickets, without hesitation Kendrick replied: "SEC Championship." When further pushed and asked if she truly thought this would be the year for the Gamecocks to finally win in the best conference in the country, Kendrick did not waiver, responding, "Absolutely."

The Gamecocks will take on the Ragin' Cajuns Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Students who need tickets can still get them on Tuesday and Wednesday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. in room 205 of the Russell House.

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