Little by little, South Carolina fans are getting to know about walk-on wide receiver Kane Whitehurst.
Many, by now, have heard he’s fast. Very fast. At the conclusion of the Gamecocks’ summer conditioning drills, Whitehurst was the second-fastest player on the team with a sub-4.4-second 40-yard dash. Only wide receiver and USC sprinter Damiere Byrd was faster.
Fans like that. Whitehurst, though, is not so sure they are going to like this next thing they learn. The Duluth, Ga., native is the cousin of former Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, the author of a 63-17 win against South Carolina in 2003 in which Charlie Whitehurst threw for four touchdowns.
“I haven’t talked to too many people about it,” said Kane Whitehurst, a 5-foot-11, 179-pound sophomore. “I am sure there are people out there who might have an opinion on that. He was a pretty good player, and I guess he had some pretty good runs here.”
Kane Whitehurst hopes to be starting a good run of his own. He first tried to make his own name in college at Arkansas, where he was signed to a scholarship out of Chattahoochee High School. He was arrested there in April 2012 for possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia and kicked off the team a month later.
“Got in some mischief there, wasn’t doing the right things,” Whitehurst acknowledges.
From there, he went looking for a home and found one when Terry Crowder, his high school coach, reached out to South Carolina wide receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. and quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus.
“There were a lot of places I looked, but once you have been at that level of football, it’s tough to go down,” Whitehurst said. “It’s definitely nice running out in front of 85,000 people. That was a big thing about it.”
So Whitehurst walked on last fall, only to suffer a shoulder injury two months into fall camp that required surgery. Now, he has returned, hopeful of earning a spot somewhere in the South Carolina receiving rotation.
“He does a lot of good things,” Spurrier Jr. said. “I’m looking forward to getting into scrimmages and letting him go. He’s a smart kid, and he’s fast. He can really, really run. He’s the type of guy you like to have on the field.”
Whitehurst has some ground to make up. He was not listed in the top three spots at any of the Gamecocks’ wide receiver positions entering fall camp.
“We have some very good players at receiver,” he said. “It is going to be an uphill battle, but I am definitely ready to try to get into the mix. I am really going to try to work hard on special teams and try to get in the mix there.”
Whitehurst, who redshirted in 2011 at Arkansas, caught 84 passes for 1,378 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior to help lead Chattahoochee to the Georgia Class 4A state championship game.
Whitehurst has been “a model student-athlete” since arriving at South Carolina, coach Steve Spurrier said.
“Like a lot of college kids, sometimes something happens, and it was time to move on,” Spurrier said. “There’s a chance he could help us.”
If he does, South Carolina fans will be quick to forgive his last name. His family already has forgiven his uniform choice.
“They are football players. They get it,” he said. “They just want what is best for me and, fortunately, this is it.”