Greats on alumni game: 'It's one of those things you'll never forget'

Greats on alumni game: 'It's one of those things you'll never forget'

Photos by Allen Sharpe

Photos by Jenny Dilworth

Postgame quotes (South Carolina Athletics Media Relations)

Box Score (South Carolina Athletics Media Relations)

Spring awards winners (South Carolina Athletics Media Relations)

Spring awards photos by Juan Blas

Gamecock greats on alumni game: "It's one of those things you'll never forget" (story by Brian Hand)

Gamecock Club honors 50-year members at spring game (story by Brian Hand)

McIlwain gives Gamecocks 'command and a lot of maturity' (story by Brian Hand)

Gamecocks have several standouts in spring game (story by Kyle Heck)

Once a Gamecock, always a Gamecock.  

Never was that more evident than at the South Carolina football garnet and black alumni game before South Carolina's annual spring game on Saturday, April 9, at Williams Brice-Stadium. 

"One of the first days on the job, Will Muschamp was wanting to figure out how to get more former student-athletes and football players involved," assistant Gamecock Club director Jay Brown said of the idea for the event. "I think this is just another one of the ways he's looking to reach out and engage those former football players. I think it's pretty awesome."

Muschamp considers the alumni game to be vitally important to the Gamecock football program. 

"It's really important," Muschamp said. "Anyone that has been a part of an organization wants to feel welcome when they come back. It creates networking for our present players. I want those guys involved as much as possible."

Even the current Gamecock football student-athletes appreciated the opportunity to have the alumni there for the spring game. 

"It just shows that Coach Muschamp is welcoming everyone in, trying to get everyone to buy back into the program, and bringing the older alumni in just shows how this program is about to turn around," senior linebacker T.J. Holloman said. "We have everyone around us, all the support, now it's on us to come out and do our jobs."

All of the former Gamecock greats in attendance raved about how much it meant to them that Muschamp would facilitate something so special. 

"When you play, you think hopefully one day you can kind of come back and have these type of moments," Gamecock defensive tackle legend and seven-year NFL veteran Langston Moore (1999-02) said. "For Will Muschamp and athletics director Ray Tanner and for everybody that's put this together, it's been so awesome to see everybody from Lou Sossamon down to a bunch of young guys, it's just a great, great time to be out here."

The quarterback on South Carolina's 1969 ACC Championship team, Tommy Suggs (1968-70) said it was special for the alumni to be able to have fun, but also to be back at a place they all cherish so much. 

"You come and you have four or five years here and then you go away, and sometimes people forget,' Suggs said. "You don't forget. It's a highlight of your life, and in many cases, it's probably, or could be the foremost important years of your life because you form so much of the way you are the rest of your life with friends, with culture, with priorities, with character and all of that. It's nice to come back and be recognized by the fans. It's nice to have your family in the stands. There's nothing wrong with it, and I'm glad he did it."

A 10-year NFL veteran and a Super Bowl champion, former Gamecock quarterback Anthony Wright (1995-98) was thrilled to be back at Williams-Brice Stadium. 

"It's amazing that Coach Muschamp and his staff actually put this together for us to be able to be back on this field, and somewhat simulate a game," Wright said. "It's one of those things you'll never forget."

The alumni game itself was secondary to just all of the fun and camaraderie, but it did feature some great moments like South Carolina's first All-American in 94-year-old Lou Sossamon (1940-42) scoring the inaugural touchdown of the game. That touchdown was bookended by Randy Wheeler (1993-96) scoring the final touchdown of the game from his wheelchair to give garnet a 26-21 win. 

Both the Sossamon and Wheeler touchdowns were greeted by both teams rushing on to the field to congratulate them. 

After the final touchdown of the game by Wheeler the group huddled up for a photo, and to interact as a family. They then ran to midfield screaming the new beloved rallying cry of the Gamecocks, Spurs Up!

The over 140 Gamecock football alumni in attendance were recognized at halftime and then signed autographs for fans after the spring game to close out a day that also included them huddling up with the current players on the field after they ran out to "2001."

The No. 7 pick overall in the 2005 NFL Draft, former South Carolina wide receiver Troy Williamson (2002-04) knows that the alumni game was important for the past, present and future of Gamecock football. 

"It's always good, especially when you know you're welcome, and they put things like this on for us older guys," Williamson said. "It makes us feel more connected to the program, and want to be here. Things like this shows people on the outside, different recruits, how close of a family we are, and that helps out a lot." 

**Story by Brian Hand/Photo by Juan Blas**