Ever since A’ja Wilson wrapped up her distinguished Gamecock career on Monday, the topic running rampant throughout Gamecock nation is where exactly does she stand on the Mount Rushmore of Gamecock legends?
So without further ado, here are my top 5 Gamecocks of all time.
5. Marcus Lattimore
If it wasn’t for the injuries that cut his career short, Lattimore might have been the greatest Gamecock of all-time. The talented running back immediately produced at an elite level, scoring a touchdown in each of his first six collegiate games. He rushed for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns as a true freshman on the team that brought Columbia its first SEC East Championship.
His next two seasons would be hampered by horrific knee injuries, leaving fans to wonder what could have been for years to come. Lattimore scored 41 total touchdowns in just 29 games while producing 118.8 yards from scrimmage for his career.
4. John Roche
Roche had a legendary college career at South Carolina under coach Frank McGuire. He was the catalyst behind South Carolina’s ACC regular season title in 1970 and ACC Tournament title in 1971. Roche, who grew up playing in the basketball in the streets of New York, brought that tenacity with him to South Carolina. He was brilliant on offense averaging 22.5 points per game and a pest on defense, often igniting a fast break by forcing a turnover.
Roche twice won the ACC basketball player of the year award, earning consensus All-American honors in 1970 and 1971. He left South Carolina after his junior season as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,910 points.
3. Michael Roth
The crafty lefty was an integral part of the best stretch of baseball in South Carolina history. He was on the College World Series championship teams in 2010 and 2011, starting both of the games that clinched national titles.
His off-speed pitches were his strongsuit. Getting right-handed batters out with his tantalizing curveball and brilliant changeup. While leaning on his slider to get lefty batters to chase out of the zone. He was not a power pitcher in any way, shape, or form, but it was clear he was commanding on the mound
Roth led all Division I pitchers in ERA in 2011 as a junior, with a 14-3 record and a 1.06 ERA. If there was an All-American list to be on in 2011, Roth was on it. Perhaps his most impressive stat line was a mind-blowing 1.17 ERA in five College World Series starts.
Not bad for a man who could barely hit the upper 80s with his fastball, not bad at all.
2. George Rogers
When the road in front of Williams-Brice is named after you, you tend to be rather important. Let’s not forget about the statue as well.
George Rogers is the definition of South Carolina football. He not only holds nearly every rushing record, but also has the school’s only Heisman Trophy. The All-American led the nation in rushing in 1980 with 1,894 yards. He is the Gamecocks’ all-time leading rusher with 5,204 yards, and only Marcus Lattimore player has scored more TDs than Rogers’ 33. Rogers topped the 100-yard mark in 27 of his 46 collegiate games, including an insane 22 straight 100-yard efforts to end his amateur career.
1. A’ja Wilson
Step aside George Rogers, there’s a new sheriff in town and her name is A’ja Wilson.
The accolades by themselves are astounding. Three-time SEC Player of the Year. Four-time All-American. Presumably with a National Player of the Year award on it’s way. Wilson has been dominant in her Carolina career winning nearly every award there is (Final Four Most Outstanding Player, SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and SEC Freshman of the Year just to name a few).
Wilson single-handedly put the Gamecocks into the national spotlight. During her illustrious career at South Carolina, the Gamecocks had three 30-plus win seasons, even spending numerous weeks at number one. She won 1 National Championship, 4 SEC Conference Tournaments, 3 SEC Regular Season titles, countless individual awards, and the hearts of Gamecock fans all across the nation.
A’ja Wilson is the best of the best. This really should not be a debate. She has had the most illustrious and successful career in Gamecock history. George Rogers himself stated that “she’s done a heck of a lot more than I did” when he was asked whether or not Wilson’s career was on the same level as his.
That being said, Gamecock fans have been spoiled with a tremendous amount of talented players. If you disagree with me, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @BenParsons7 and tell me why you believe my list is wrong.