South Carolina presents memorial scholarship to walk-on in emotional ceremony
The first-ever Jake Panus Football Scholarship at South Carolina was awarded to long snapper Matthew Bailey.
Panus had always dreamed of playing for the South Carolina Gamecocks. Growing up in Southport, Connecticut he slowly fell in love with the team and what it meant to play for the school. The 16-year-old was in high school when he was killed in a DUI car accident, and wasn’t able to fulfill his dream.
New head coach Shane Beamer heard about this and invited his father Stephen Panus to speak to the team.
“I want you for a second to imagine a boy, who had a dream,” Panus said to the Gamecocks. “In his dream, he used every fiber of his being to have a goal, and that goal was to attend the University of South Carolina and to become a Gamecock.”
When Stephen Panus spoke to the team that day, his story resonated with coach Beamer.
So much so that he decided to create a walk-on scholarship in Jake’s name, awarding it to Bailey.
A legacy carried on through the beauty of giving. A horrible tragedy turned into a wonderful opportunity.
In memory of Jake Panus. pic.twitter.com/cwN0g9yYGg
— Gamecock Football (@GamecockFB) September 22, 2021
Bailey is a redshirt sophomore from Deland, Florida. He won the starting long snapper job in 2020 as a redshirt freshman. Bailey immediately phoned home to his parents to let them know about the good news.