COLUMBIA -- Like a lot of other people, Jarvis Giles' decision Wednesday to transfer didn't catch South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier by surprise.
Giles was mired on the running back depth chart as a freshman -- and even more this season after the arrival of freshman Marcus Lattimore.
"In the situation he's in, he wants to go play," Spurrier said. I encourage guys that enjoy college football -- at some point, you see where you are -- to transfer and go play. Jarvis wants to play, so we wish him the best."
There was no immediate word on where the Tampa, Fla., native might be headed, although he considered transferring to South Florida in the offseason. He told a hometown newspaper Wednesday that he might look toward the Big Ten or Big 12.
Giles was brought in a year ago to help transform the running game, but he didn't adjust well to college, both on and off the field.
On a few occasions a year ago, Giles was held out of practice -- and even one game, at Alabama -- for missing too many classes.
Giles landed in Spurrier's doghouse for those reasons -- and because he "ran backward" too many times, as Spurrier said.
Giles had 11 carries for 113 yards and a score against Florida Atlantic early last season, but he never had that sort of an impact again. With Kenny Miles emerging, and Brian Maddox also in the equation, Giles had just 13 carries in the team's final eight games. He was really a non-factor in SEC play.
Giles dedicated himself in the offseason, gaining about 15 pounds. He was seemingly in the mix during the first part of preseason camp, but a mild injury derailed his progress and Lattimore started to move forward.
"We understand you get in situations where the opportunity to play doesn't look all that good," Spurrier said. "We wish Jarvis the best."
Spurrier said Giles is free to play wherever he chooses. Some coaches, including some in the SEC, have refused to allow releases to certain schools.
"I'm not as smart as other coaches," Spurrier quipped. "He can go anywhere he wants to. I don't think it's fair to keep a player from going somewhere."
Spurrier mentioned quarterback Zac Brindise as an example of a player who had succeeded after transferring. Brindise, now at Western Carolina after leaving this summer, had a 300-yard passing game and is competing for the starting job.
Lattimore, Miles, Maddox and Bryce Sherman will continue as the team's running backs.
"Of course I'll miss the guy," Miles said. "He was funny and fun to have around. If he was ever having a bad day, he'd always turn it around. I wish him the best of luck in his career and whatever he'll do."
Spurrier did not shoot down a report that the school is at least listening to Weslye Saunders about reinstatement. The tight end, dismissed from the team last week amid a litany of issues, has been "begging" to be added back to the team, multiple sources have said in the past week.
All Spurrier denied was the fact that he was the one that could make the decision.
"That's not in my hands," Spurrier said. "That's not up to me at this time."
Presumably, it is in AD Eric Hyman's hands. Saunders' dismissal was announced by Hyman. Saunders has met with Hyman, among others, in the past week.
RT Hutch Eckerson (ankle) has recovered quicker than most expected, and offensive line coach Shawn Elliott said he could play Saturday at Auburn. LB Shaq Wilson (hamstring) continues to practice, but there's no guarantee on his availability Saturday. It's also unclear whether RG Rok Watkins (stinger) will play, Elliott said. ... The Gamecocks will likely wear all white (pants, jerseys) Saturday, a team official said.
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