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Sprints Remembers Kenny McKinley // 09.21.10

With time to reflect on it and the passage of an evening -- it still doesn't make any sense.

If there's a word that keeps coming up in the stories written about Kenny McKinley's death, from Columbia to Denver and back again, it's "smile." His smile is the thing that those who covered him and those who played with him remember, as much as those of us who followed him remember his reliability.

Steve Spurrier remembered seeing McKinley little more than a week earlier at the Georgia game.

He seemed in good spirits. Great smile like he always had. I don't understand it if it happened the way they say. It's hard to comprehend. Kenny was certainly one of my favorite all-time players. He was a wonderful guy. It's hard to figure out why this happened.

Josh McDaniels, head coach of the Broncos, who created a memorial for McKinley as their home page:

Kenny had a promising future on the football field, but more importantly, he was a great teammate whose smile and personality could light up the room.

McKinley was not the flashiest receiver in the world; he was great for being reliable at a position often known for inconsistency. In addition to the school records for receptions in a season, receptions in a career and receiving yards, McKinley holds the South Carolina record for consecutive games with a catch at 43 -- nine clear of the next-highest receivers on the list. When the Gamecocks as a team were wildly inconsistent, fans knew they could count on Kenny McKinley.

My strongest memory of McKinley is the record-breaking catch for career receptions in a game against Kentucky, which was immediately followed by a bizarre fumble. When reporters asked him about it after the game, McKinley seemed more upset about the fumble than pleased about the record -- more concerned with the damage he had almost done to the team than the personal accolades.

But when talking about McKinley the person, you have to go back to the smile and the joy -- the joy that apparently ended Monday for a reason no one seems to know.

There was nothing so bad in McKinley's world that it couldn't have been repaired with his smile and spirit.

Except, apparently, that there was. Whatever it was, it's hard to imagine it was worth the loss.

As for the title of Travis Haney's blog post -- "Eleven Forever" -- there's a way to make that a fact. South Carolina should retire McKinley's number Saturday, regardless of Spurrier's preference for retiring jerseys as opposed to numbers. There are players special enough to be the exception to any rule, and McKinley was one of them.

McKinley Guest Book
For those who want to pay their respects. (HT: Garnet And Black Attack)

Don't boo him
Gator fans should let Taylor Wyndham be when he goes to the Swamp this weekend. You might remember Wyndham as "the guy who gave Tim Tebow a concussion," but he should also be remembered as "the guy who did his job by trying to sack the quarterback."

We still ended up losing the game. I would have taken a win over hitting him any day

Leave him alone.

So do they still hate Phil Fulmer as much?
Alabama fans have to let go of part of their bill of wrongs against the Great Pumpkin: He did not turn Alabama in during the Albert Means case, according to the Alabama alumnus and judge who presided over a related civil lawsuit.

"(Another) thing that was not told to (the press) is that the Albert Means violation was not reported by the University of Tennessee," Wilson said, "but by the University of Arkansas. ...

"All of these facts totally refuted the UT conspiracy in the case."

I don't think that will make a great deal of difference, but we'll see.

100 oversights?
That's essentially the crux of Tennessee's case to the NCAA in response to PearlGate -- miscommunication, poor record keeping, carelessness. You know, the mistakes anyone would make. 100 times. In two years. Still, it's hard to disagree with Rocky Top Talk's assessment that Bruce Pearl isn't going anywhere.