South Carolina football: top 3 tight ends in program history

The South Carolina football team seen a number of fantastic players at the tight end position, but who are the best?

The Gamecocks have produced some great talent at the tight end position over the years, much of which has moved on to success in the NFL. But who are the program’s best?

Here, we’ll run through the top three tight ends in South Carolina history, but first, let’s see the players that just missed the cut.

Here are the honorable mentions.

  • Busta Anderson – finished career with 61 catches, 954 yards, and nine touchdowns.
  • Jerell Adams – caught 66 passes for 977 yards over four-year career.
  • Chris Corley – totaled 48 catches and 632 yards between ’81-’84.
  • Justice Cunningham – great blocker that also caught 50 passes over his four-year career.
  • Kyle Markway – fantastic junior year that saw him grab 31 receptions.
  • Weslye Saunders – totaled 718 yards in just three seasons.
  • Danny Smith – only played two seasons at tight end, but ended career with 1,336 receiving yards.
  • JR Wilburn – recorded 951 yards between ’63-’65.

Now, to the top three.

 

3. JARED COOK

Cook played for Steve Spurrier, and he certainly benefited from the Head Ball Coach’s play calling. He left the program as the all-time leader in receiving amongst Gamecock tight ends, only recently being surpassed by another player on this list.

From ’06-’08, Cook totaled 73 receptions and 1,107 receiving yards. As a senior, he hauled in 37 catches for 573 yards and three scores, earning all-conference honors. His 15.5 yards per catch ranked 10th in the SEC that year.

Cook was selected in the third round of the ’09 draft, and will soon enter his 12th NFL season. He’s a two-time Pro Bowl selection.

2. WILLIE SCOTT

Scott played between ’77-’80, where he caught 63 passes for a total of 787 yards and seven touchdowns. His senior year, in particular, was one of the best by a Gamecock tight end, especially considering the era of his playing career.

The Gamecocks were a run-heavy offense powered by Heisman trophy winner George Rogers, and Scott, a great blocker, was instrumental in Rogers’ success. But Scott made his presence known in the passing game, too, with a 360-yd season in ’80. He led the Gamecocks in receiving that final campaign.

Scott would go on to be a first round draft pick following his graduation, and left the program ranking in the top 10 in career catches.

1. HAYDEN HURST

Hurst is the program’s all-time leading receiver at the tight end position, totaling 1,281 yards over his three-year career. He twice recorded 40-catch, 500-yard seasons on his way to first-team all-SEC honors as a junior.

In his final season, Hurst caught 44 passes for 559 yards and two scores. He actually had a better season statistically as a sophomore, hauling in 48 receptions for 616 yards.

Hurst came to Columbia following a stint in the minor league baseball system. He joined the Gamecock squad as a walk-on but left as a first round NFL pick. He’s entering his third professional season in 2020.

Next: Top 3 WRs in program history