Highlighting the Seniors Who Went Out Winners

It was Senior Day for South Carolina on Saturday afternoon and the Gamecocks did not disappoint, sending the Arkansas Razorbacks back to the Land of The Clintons on the wrong end of a 34-21 final. Eric Guimaraes highlights the plays of the day by the seniors, as well as looking at their careers and backgrounds in this special tribute article.

Several seniors had big games in their final performance in front of their home town fans. It was the first early afternoon affair in The Capital City and Williams-Brice was filled with garnet and black. First and foremost, Kenny McKinley had seven catches for 130 yards and 1 touchdown. On the Gamecock's first play from scrimmage, McKinley caught what might be considered an obscure version of a bubble screen and scampered up the sideline for 30 yards. Needing only 26 yards coming into the game to break the record, he got it out of the way early and went on to dazzle those in attendance with brilliant catch and runs, well executed routes, and a spectacular one-handed catch along the sideline on a third down pass to extend a drive. He was simply exceptional.

Last year, there was some talk that McKinley might follow in the path of Sidney Rice leaving USC early for the NFL. He even received communication from the Draft Advisory Board and was told that he was projected in the 3rd or 4th round. Kenny said that he considered it but was having a hard time leaving. "I wanted to come back for my senior season," said McKinley.

"Just seeing the team we had coming back…I knew the defense was going to be good. That was enough for me. I thought we had a pretty good chance to compete for the SEC championship."

He got injured early in the Vanderbilt game and the offense struggled without him. One wonders what might have been. Even Steve Spurrier commented after today's game that had South Carolina been able to win against Vandy or Georgia, they would be playing for the East title next week.

McKinley was not the only senior to impact Saturday's game. Columbia native Mike Davis also contributed down the stretch. After struggling to find running space for most of the game, Davis combined with backfield mate, Eric Baker, on an 11 play , 72 yard march that ate up 6:22 of the clock and iced this game, giving the Cocks an insurmountable 34-14 lead. The drive was capped off by Mike Davis's 13 yard burst up the gut, giving Davis his 19th career TD and last at Williams-Brice. He finished the day with 44 yards on 14 carries and was outstanding on several occasions in picking up the blitz.

Mike Davis also broke the half-century mark against Arkansas and scored his fifth touchdown of the season. His best season was his freshman year when he had 666 yards. He only needs 143 yards in his final three games to surpass that mark. He is also in the top ten all-time with 19 touchdowns.

Jordin Lindsey may have made the biggest play of the game in his senior day game. With the Gamecocks leading 20-14, the offense was unable to move the ball, and turned it back over to their defense. This has been a common theme of the 2008 season. On the last play of the third quarter, Lindsey read the play, leapt into the air and snagged a ball intended for the tight end. He then had the wherewithal to keep his feet and return the interception 40 yards deep into Razorback territory. The play was eerily similar to the 2006 Liberty Bowl where Lindsey picked off Denny Kolb to turn the game in the Cocks favor.

"I saw the tight end cut across my face so I knew it was going to be a short pass. I was able to get my hands up and it stuck," said Lindsey following the game. "Like I said, I was just trying to get as far as I could with it."

Spurrier said this was the play that turned the game around. Lindsey agreed, saying that the defense had a meeting before going out on the field. "We had a big speech on the sidelines," he said. "We knew somebody on defense was going to have to step up and make a play. Luckily, I was the one who was able to do that for our defense and our team."

Lindsey has regularly made big plays throughout his career, and the pick on Saturday was no different. However, he also works hard on every play and contributes where some might not see. On Saturday, Lindsey made two tackles on special teams and played nose guard in an odd defensive package where USC only rushed two while Lindsey shadowed the quarterback. He has been a special player that has overcome adversity and been a major part of one of the great defenses in the history of the program.

Kicker Ryan Succop is yet another senior to have a big day this homecoming weekend. With 11:20 remaining in the first quarter, Spurrier sent the senior kicker out to attempt a 54 yard field goal in a punting situation. Already leading by 7 and with an opportunity to pin the Hogs deep, the USC coaching staff showed the senior kicker the confidence he has earned. Even though this has not been his best year and he has been struggling over the last few games, Succop confidently strolled out on the playing surface and drilled the 54 yarder with room to spare, giving the Gamecocks a 10-0 lead.

Succop also had five of his seven kickoffs result in a touchback. He was 2 of 3 on the day in field goal attempts, missing a chip shot, and converted all point after attempts. He has not missed a PAT the entire season.

There were also other seniors that contributed on this day with Stoney Woodson getting his fourth interception on the season and taking the team lead outright. Carlos Thomas was very strong on the corner all day. Saturday's win was a big win for the entire football team. It removed any doubt as to whether or not the Gamecocks will go bowling. It also improved their chances of playing in higher profile bowl game. As the Gamecocks continue to add wins to their record, their chances for the Outback Bowl, and possibly the Citrus Bowl (I had lunch with the Citrus Bowl representatives before the game), Gamecock fans have reason to become more excited about a return trip to the sunshine state during the holidays.

For those seniors playing their last game at the Brice, however, this was more than another game. They were closing another chapter in their lives and that chapter is a special one…"The College Years." So many of them were able to contribute and give their supporters an opportunity to cheer them and show them an appreciation for choosing their school, bleeding for them in the trenches, and becoming a part of their Gamecock family. These guys did it with style today. Who doesn't love a happy ending?

Here is a list of the seniors honored before the game, for whom this season will be their last in a Gamecock uniform. Included among them is Tommy Beecher, who though technically a redshirt junior, is completing his fourth year at South Carolina. Spurrier said after the game, "Tommy needs to go ahead and graduate."

Yvan Banag (who was a co-captain today)

Tommy Beecher

Jasper Brinkley

Freddie Brown

Jamarial Brown

Mike Davis

Larry Freeman

Paul Haile

Marque Hall

Bryan Kingrey

Dustin Lindsey

Jordin Lindsey

Alex McGrath

Kenny McKinley

Michael McQueeney

Jamon Meredith

Mike Newton

Taylor Rank

Hardee Sanders

Marvin Sapp

Gerrod Sinclair

Justin Sorensen

Nate Spurrier

Ryan Succop

Gurminder Thind

Carlos Thomas

Bobby Wallace

Jonathan Williams

Stoney Woodson

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