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December 6, 2013

Sleeper stars of 2013: Elliott Fry

With the regular season over and a sparkling 10-2 record in the books, Gamecock Central is counting down the five biggest surprise stars of this past season, players who very few, if any, would have picked to have the kind of big years they did.

Each day this week we've profiled a player leading up to today's No. 1. Let's have some fun!

No. 1 Eliott Fry

What more can you say about Elliot Fry?

From zero to hero, walk-on out of nowhere, from the depths of oblivion to a front-line, ready-for-prime-time clutch SEC kicker. Game on the line? Give it here. I got this.

Coming into fall camp, the battle to replace Adam Yates (49-49 PATs, 11-of-17 on field goals in 2012) was so wide open you or I had a shot at it. No fewer than five kickers were being auditioned (Fry, Landon Ard, Nick St. Germain, Max Huggins and Caleb Kelly all gave it a shot), and at the one scrimmage open to the media, they all looked so consistently bad media members were speculating how many games having a kicker who couldn't be trusted from the 30 on out would cost the Gamecocks.

What we couldn't see that day or any other leading up to the beginning of the season was how badly Fry wanted the job, how committed he was to his craft and how much of a winner he already was, having battled to overcome Type I diabetes.

On the field, Fry was money from Day One, becoming the first true freshman to kick for the Gamecocks since 1996. He led the team in scoring this season with 95 points (Yates had 82 in 2012), converting 50-of-51 PATs and connecting on 15-of-18 field goals, the most memorable of which for Gamecock fans always and forever will be the 40-yarder in double overtime that won the game at Missouri.

To follow that up, when the offense struggled against Florida, he accounted for 13 of USC's 19 points with four field goals and a PAT to earn SEC Freshman of the Week honors.

He's humble, he's quietly confident, he volunteers his time to help other kids struggling with diabetes.

In other words, he's a Gamecock.

What looked like a disaster area before the season has become a strength for years to come, and the only thing left to do for Elliott is the one thing that will mean the most - award him a scholarship.

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