The news of Will Muschamp’s firing was a difficult thing to process for the South Carolina players, who saw Muschamp as a big-hearted players’ coach who could relate to them and was a main reason they chose the Garnet and Black.

For QB Collin Hill, he noted at a Monday press conference how Muschamp took a chance on him even though the quarterback was coming off three ACL injuries, and not many other coaches would have done that. Hill, of course, has the experience of dealing with something similar when his coach at Colorado State, Mike Bobo, was fired. Bobo, of course, was instrumental in Hill coming to South Carolina and has gone from offensive coordinator to interim head coach.

Hill said he would encourage his teammates that it’s still football, and while it’s not easy to go through a transition, you’re still playing the game you love and make the most of every day.

Hill said he hasn’t yet talked with Muschamp one-on-one, but expects to later this week.

“I am extremely grateful for Coach Muschamp,” Hill said. “… For being willing to take a chance on me. That means a lot. I know he cares for this team and this program and I can’t thank him enough for giving me this opportunity.”

Similarly, FB Adam Prentice added that Muschamp is a friend, and called him very personable. He said Muschamp always asked about school and family and what he could do to be there for players.

“The respect and love we have for him isn’t going to be gone even though he’s gone,” Prentice said.

Offensive lineman Jabari Ellis said his message to teammates is Muschamp’s message: Rally the troops, circle the wagons, focus on football. Ellis said he told Muschamp that he appreciated the opportunity, and Muschamp said to keep playing hard and he would support them 100 percent.

Ellis said the players’ meeting with Muschamp was emotional on Sunday night.

“Coach Muschamp is more than a football coach, he taught me a lot about life,” Ellis said. “When I first got here, I didn’t really understand certain things going through life, how to really fight adversity. But he kind of taught me how to fight adversity. Definitely a coach that will be missed. He was a players’ coach. What I liked his he came in fighting for his players, and he left fighting for his players. So that’s big. We appreciate Coach Muschamp to the highest, hope nothing but the best for him.”