COLUMBIA -- When asked last fall about his plans to apply for a sixth year of eligibility, South Carolina middle linebacker Rodney Paulk said he would play "until the wheels fall off."

Thanks to a favorable NCAA ruling, Paulk now has two more years to keep his frame, wheels and everything else in good working order. Paulk, who missed most of the past two seasons with knee injuries, was granted a rare sixth year that gives the 6-0, 226-pounder the chance to play this season and 2011. He plans on taking advantage of the extra year.

Paulk was the Gamecocks' fourth-leading tackler in 2007 as a sophomore. But USC decided to redshirt Paulk the following season when he was bothered by a knee injury the first four games. Paulk returned last season, but tore the ACL in his right knee in the opener at N.C. State and had reconstructive surgery a few weeks later.

He learned about the NCAA's decision Tuesday from head athletic trainer Clint Haggard.

Paulk sat out spring practice while continuing his rehabilitation, but said he is 100 percent healed and not limited in any of USC's summer strength and conditioning drills.