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August 5, 2013

Fish is going to 'keep fighting'



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It's been a bumpy ride for Patrick Fish since deciding to become a Gamecock during his senior season at Burns High School in Lawndale, N.C., but the redshirt junior punter is doing everything he can to get on the field in some capacity this season.

Currently in the middle of competitions for the starting job at the punter and placeholder positions, Fish said after Monday night's practice that he's working hard for playing time anywhere he can get it this fall.

"My plan is to go out here and punt as good as I possibly can," Fish said. "If that gets me the starting position, that'll be great. But I plan on holding too. Any way I can get on the field, I don't care if they put me at linebacker. I just want to get on the field."

The son of a former head football coach at Gardner-Webb, Fish hasn't had anything handed to him since he arrived on campus in 2010. After redshirting his freshman year, the sport and entertainment management major couldn't beat out Joey Scribner-Howard for the starting punting job in the spring of 2011 and failed to see any game action that fall.

Despite being the heir-apparent at punter after Scribner-Howard graduated, Fish's career hit another speed bump when Tyler Hull transferred in from Surry Community College in Doby, N.C., and immediately won the starting job at punter. Fish would see action in just two games during the 2012 sesaon, shanking a 24-yard punt and holding an extra point against ECU and punting two times for a 40.5-yard average against Florida.

Even after being recognized as the Jim Carlen Special Teams Player of the Spring during halftime of the spring game, Fish's scholarship was pulled over the offseason, leaving his future with the team in doubt. After weighing his options, Fish decided to stick it out at South Carolina, giving himself another chance to earn significant playing time as a Gamecock.

"I talked to my parents about it, and they've never let me quit at anything," Fish said. "I'm going to stay here and keep fighting for that starting position. That's just my perspective on it."

The junior said he knew it would be a challenge to unseat Hull as the starting punter this fall, but was very optimistic about his chances.

"The way I punted today - if I punted like that every day, I'll have a shot to start this upcoming year," Fish said.

Though nothing is set in stone yet, Fish is working with the first team at the placeholding position, and he's the favorite to win that position battle this fall. He spent last season as the backup holder behind former quarterback and current graduate assistant Seth Strickland, who handled the holder duties for each of the past three season for South Carolina without incident.

Fish recognized the challenge of stepping into the shoes of a player as experienced and consistent as Strickland, but said he is looking forward to the opportunity to prove himself this fall.

"Seth's done a great job every year we had him back there," Fish said. "I plan on going back there, and I think I can be the guy this year to step up and give Ard or Nick or whoever's kicking some good holds. We'll see how it works out."





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