Shon Carson: The Unexpected Hero
Shon Carson is a guy that has been crucified on the internet by armchair coaches for his shortcomings as a kickoff return specialist and for the lack of significant impact he has made as a running back on the team. Whether or not you liked or disliked Shon Carson coming into the game against North Carolina probably doesn’t matter anymore after he delivered in the clutch by rushing for the winning touchdown, a 48-yard burst that no one expected.
This isn’t the first time that Shon Carson has been a hero for the Gamecocks, which is why it is so perplexing that so many fans seem to dislike him. Let’s rewind to November 16, 2013.
The Florida Gators came to Columbia in search of a big upset over the 7-2, 11th ranked South Carolina Gamecocks. The Gators were making things difficult for Connor Shaw and Mike Davis. Shon Carson had only gotten one carry in the first half and it was for only 2 yards. The Gamecocks needed someone to step up other than Elliott Fry, and Carson answered the call.
Carson came out in the second half and carried the ball 12 times for 100 yards, including a 58 yard run that led to the game winning field goal from Elliott Fry.
Without the heroics of Carson the Gamecocks most likely would have lost to Florida in 2013, but most fans don’t think about that game when they think of Carson. They think of him being a kick off return specialist that is not a home run threat, and even though he may not be a constant threat, he hasn’t coughed the ball up when returning kickoffs like Deebo Samuel did Thursday night on his only attempt to return. That’s right. Carson didn’t even get the start as the kickoff return specialist against the Tarheels.
Fans also think of him being a player that is capable of catching the ball and making plays in the open, but he’s never been considered a great option at running back. Simply put, there has always been someone ahead of Carson that has been perceived as “better.”
The fans may not have been thinking of Carson, but thank goodness Everette Sands was. “It was a wonderful idea putting him in the game,” Spurrier said of the decision by Sands.
So, Carson gave fans something to think about on Thursday night, and he did it on his first carry of the season. Carson may not get all the respect and adoration that guys like David Williams or Brandon Wilds get, but he knows what he needs to bring when gets the opportunity. “My guys were a little bit banged up so I had to prove I could step up,” said Carson.
Carson finished the game with 4 carries for 75 yards and that game winning touchdown. Let’s put that in perspective. He had 1 carry for 48 yards. His average after that was 9 yards per carry. That’s pretty good!
Carson probably won’t ever be a starter for the Gamecocks this season, but it’s nice to know that a hero can emerge at any time. Gamecock Nation just hopes that if his name keeps popping up, it’s because of games like this.
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