Kenny Miles is what the Head Ball Coach calls ‘a true Gamecock’ in every sense of the phrase.
Weighing transfer options throughout the offseason, he stuck around for a fifth season knowing he’d play second fiddle to Marcus Lattimore. Convinced by the coaching staff that his number would be called on a more regular basis in the zone-option offense, Miles has been instead relegated to an increased role on coverage units with Lattimore receiving the extensive workload every Saturday in the backfield. Rather than become another team’s featured back, Miles wanted to win and he’s done so with his head held high usually cheering from the sidelines.
His hard work and perseverance will pay off this weekend as South Carolina’s veteran tailback is the next man up without No. 21. Miles will get the first of four final chances to ‘be the guy’ Saturday against Arkansas in a contest the Gamecocks have to win to stay in the BCS at-large picture.
What South Carolina does over an important three-game stretch to end the season will dictate the strength of the program’s bowl invite. Miles has had memorable games during his career, notable performances in wins over Clemson and last year’s Capitol One Bowl, but gets to tote the football now without much pressure or competition.
True freshman Mike Davis is expected to share carries the remainder of the season, but Miles gets the bulk of work. Steve Spurrier is hoping to avoid burning Brandon Wilds’ redshirt this season after the freshman accumulated three 100-yard games in five starts last year. Wilds provided a more power-running option with Connor Shaw under center after Lattimore was lost for the season in 2011 and took the majority of Miles’ time until his effort was questioned in the regular-season finale vs. Clemson. Miles spelled Wilds in the Palmetto rivalry and started against Nebraska a month later in Orlando.
Two of his three career touchdowns came against the Huskers.
Wilds and Davis will be the top two backs on next year’s depth chart with an expected redshirt year for Lattimore, so this is Miles’ defining opportunity. Miles participated in Senior Day ceremonies last season, but he’ll leave Columbia, S.C. as one of the most winningest Gamecocks in history. He was a part of the program’s first-ever SEC East title in 2010 and was a key contributor on last season’s school-record 11-win squad.
Who knows what Miles’ career numbers would have been without Lattimore’s arrival or if the Gamecocks would’ve had a reliable offensive line during his tenure. But with three more victories and some extensive help from others, he could be South Carolina’s main option in the program’s first BCS bowl.
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