“I’d like for there to be a big crowd for the guys,” the former JSU quarterback and associate athletics director said. “I don’t want it to be a dud for them.”
Moments later, the crowd started trickling in. It wasn’t the largest Fan Day crowd the Gamecocks ever had – some might suggest it was a little small given the enthusiasm created by the new staff – but those who did show up Sunday were appreciative of the chance to interact with the players.
“I think it went OK,” Lett said. “There was a pretty good crowd. It would’ve been nice if it was twice as many, but it was still a nice crowd.”
Event organizers declined to make a crowd estimate except to note “there were lines at every table.”
The event might have drawn a bigger crowd if the Gamecocks had attached a brief practice to it. New coach Bill Clark said that was discussed earlier in the week and is something to be considered next year.
Clark pulled six new Sharpies from his pocket and placed them on his table as the line started building. He estimated he signed a couple hundred autographs as fans and family walked through with posters, footballs, jerseys and even a pair of game pants.
“I don’t know that I’d ever signed game pants before,” Clark said. “We had a great group of folks here, especially with school not being in. It was good. It really was.”
Grover Dunn and his wife, state Sen. Priscilla Dunn, the grandparents of junior offensive lineman Blake Burks, were the first to arrive, upholding a long-standing family tradition.
“We’re the first ones at every game,” Grover said proudly.
The Dunns have missed only one during Burks’ JSU career, and that was back in November to do some last-minute canvassing for Burks’ mother’s run for office in Jefferson County.
This was their third JSU Fan Day. They settled into seats in Section U, six rows from the top of the red seats.
Grover Dunn, a former coach at Abrams High School and Miles College, said he was looking forward to “unpredictable offense” this season from the Gamecocks.
“Last year we could sit in the stands and predict what they were going to run,” he said.
Senior linebackers Brenton Tolson of Anniston and Robert Gray are seasoned veterans when it comes to Fan Day. This was their fifth and, as their last one of their playing careers, both said it was by far their most meaningful.
“This really isn’t for us, it’s for the fans,” Tolson said. “They want to see us so we come out here and do this for them every year. They come out and show us love and we love them back.”
Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @almusky_star.