Since 2009, the University of South Carolina has had at
least one football player named to the Associated Press All-America
team with Kelcy Quarles being named second-team this past year at
defensive tackle. Over the years, the Gamecocks have had 27
All-Americans named an AP All-American on either to the first,
second, or third teams.
The first AP All-American for the Gamecocks was a center from Gaffney, S.C., Louis “Lou” C. Sossamon, in 1942.
Sossamon played for Head Coach Rex Enright from 1940-1942 after playing high school football at Gaffney High School and playing in the Shrine Bowl after his senior year.
“I thank the Good Lord every day for the opportunity for going to the University as my life was so much better because of that as I met my wife and friends and the education I received," Sossamon reminisced.
Freshmen did not play varsity ball in that day, so it wasn’t until his sophomore year that Lou got his chance.
“In my first game, after five minutes Rex Enright called a timeout and called me over to the sidelines,” the 1942 Captain of the team explained. “He put his arm around me and he said, ‘Lou, I need to teach you something about football. Now that green grass out there with the white lines on it, that’s a football field. Now when you go out there, you’re supposed to play football, not watch the cheerleaders!’ Kat was a cheerleader and I didn’t know her yet, but I had my eye on her.”
Kat was Kathryn Edgerton, who would later become Sossamon's wife.
“I met my wife (at USC) and we were married for 65 years and four days,” Sossamon remembered. “I had a wonderful coach in Rex Enright. I’ve made so many friends. Going to the University has meant a lot to me both socially and business wise and I’m very happy that it happened to me.”
Kat was not only a cheerleader at South Carolina, she was Phi Beta Kappa, vice president of the student body (Sossamon was the President) and graduated magna cum laude. She was also the daughter of Dr. N. Bruce Edgerton, the head coach of the University’s football team from 1912-1915.
“He was a medical doctor and he moved to Columbia and to make a little extra money he coached football," Sossamon replied.
The biggest win while playing at USC was in 1941 when Carolina beat No. 14 Clemson, 18-14, on Big Thursday.
“Anytime you win it’s a big deal,” Sossamon said. “But after that particular game, Sol Blatt, from the House of Representatives, was in charge of getting the funds together to buy Coach Enright a new Cadillac since we won the game. It was a pretty big deal.”
After the 1942 season, Sossamon was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but never played for them as he entered the Navy and served during World War II. When he returned, Lou played professionally for the New York Yankees of the All-American Football Conference which merged with the NFL in the early 1950s.
Sossamon was named to the USC Athletics Hall of Fame in 1968. He served as a member of the USC Board of Trustees and was the publisher of The Gaffney Ledger from 1969 until 1999.
These days, the 92-year-old legend still finds time to go see his Gamecocks play.
“Right now I enjoy going to the baseball, football and basketball games. I don’t move around as fast as I used to, but I’m still moving.”
On November 1, 2013, a dedication was held at the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center and put in the name of Louis C. and Kathryn E. Sossamon. The Tutoring Room was named in honor of the Sossamons by their children: Kit Smith, Polly Player and Cody Sossamon.
“I have a wonderful family, so much to be thankful for. I can’t count all my blessings. I just say 'thank you Lord for everything you have given me,'” Sossamon concluded.
**Pictured at the top is the family at the dedication at the Dodie. From left-to-right they are Polly Player, Lou, Cody Sossamon and Kit Smith.**