Although he hasn’t played as much as he’d like for the South Carolina football team, Coleman Harley is savoring his time as a member of the squad.
The South Aiken High School alum just completed his third season with the Gamecocks and that span just happens to cover the best stretch in program history. Under the guidance of head coach Steve Spurrier, South Carolina recently completed its third consecutive 11-win season with a 34-24 win over Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl.
“It’s never been done at South Carolina,” said the 6-foot-1, 264-pound Harley, who serves as the Gamecocks’ reserve long snapper. “It’s a good way to end the year. You’re not waiting around (after a loss during the offseason). … It’s an honor to play for such a great coach.”
Each season Harley’s been at South Carolina, it has ended with a victory in a bowl game. While the hope for much of this season was to qualify for a BCS game, Harley said he and his teammates made the most of their trip to the Capital One Bowl.
“We were a little disappointed (we didn’t make it to a BCS game) but it’s nothing we can control,” Harley said. “I would love to be in a BCS bowl but it was exciting and I had a good time.”
Harley, who’s pursuing a degree in public health, made his second trip to the Capital One Bowl. As a redshirt, Harley was part of the Gamecock team that defeated Nebraska 30-13 in the Capital One Bowl played at the conclusion of the 2011 season.
The result for South Carolina was the same, and Harley noted similarities between the trips to Orlando, Fla., such as the Gamecocks’ weightroom being transported from Columbia and maintaining the same practice schedule. He also pointed out some differences, primarily pertaining to his status on the team.
“I know everybody more. I’ve got seniority and more say so in wherever we go, instead of just following,” said Harley, who participated in excursions to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios as well as Universal Studios. “It’s pretty cool. I’m blessed to be with a great group of guys.”
Harley said bowl trips are special because it allows the players to make lifetime memories with their best friends.
He also pointed out that getting away is fun because it allows for the players to build bonds with teammates they aren’t as familiar with or might not see as often during their normal routine.
“The cool thing about a bowl game is you never know who you end up with. It can be a different group of guys and it’s cool to hang out with a different group of guys,” said Harley, who embraces every opportunity he’s afforded as a member of the Gamecocks in spite of a lack of playing time. “I haven’t gotten to play much but I come out to practice every day with a smile on my face. I’ll work on snapping but I’ll throw passes or get in different groups – anything I can do to help the team. I’m so lucky to be where I am.”
Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than 14 years after graduating from Syracuse University.