For Kenny Miles, Jan. 1 will be goodbye.
For the rest of No. 11 South Carolina’s healthy running backs, it’ll be an audition.
Miles, a senior who has 358 rushing yards this season, will end his career in the Outback Bowl against No. 19 Michigan as the Gamecocks’ starting running back.
“A win, that’s the main thing, and go out there and have fun with my teammates,” he said of his goals for his final game. “It’s the last time I’ll be able to play football in a Carolina jersey. So go out there and do it right.”
Miles will be relieved by freshmen Shon Carson and Mike Davis. Carson is a late entry into the running back corps. He missed the regular season after having two surgeries to repair a dislocated wrist and was expected to sit out all season and keep open the possibility of earning a sixth year of eligibility at the end of his career. (He missed 11 games in 2011 because of a torn ACL.) He chose instead to return to the lineup for one game this year.
“Four more years down the road is a long time,” running backs coach Everette Sands said. “He’s like, ‘I’d rather go on and play.’ He is doing some good things, so I expect Shon Carson to be in the mix as well.”
Carson’s presence will allow South Carolina to redshirt sophomore running back Brandon Wilds, who missed the regular season because of a sprained ankle. Wilds has been healthy enough to play for almost a month, but the Gamecocks have kept him on the sideline to preserve his redshirt season. They almost were forced to insert him at the end of the regular season finale against Clemson, Sands said.
“After Mike got his bell rung a little bit, I was looking around like, ‘What are we going to do now?’ ” Sands said. “Kenny came in on half a leg, went in and got us a critical first down. But it is good to have a third guy there so I don’t have to worry about messing with Brandon’s redshirt.”
Davis, who had 275 yards in the regular season, Wilds and Carson are expected to battle for the starting tailback job in 2013. That job won’t be decided until at least the end of spring practice, Sands said, but the bowl game will allow Davis and Carson to make an early pitch for playing time.
“Spring (practice) is going to be huge,” Sands said. “Everybody brings a little something different to the table. It’ll be who’s going to play more consistently.”
… South Carolina will wear garnet jerseys and garnet pants for the game.
… The Gamecocks will practice once Wednesday morning before attending a bowl-sponsored lunch at the Outback Steakhouse on Two Notch Road.
… South Carolina held two practices Tuesday and will hold another two-a-day session Thursday.