COLUMBIA, S.C. — For junior running back Caleb Kinlaw, it’s been a long, winding road back home to the state of South Carolina.
Kinlaw, a 3-star recruit out of Goose Creek (S.C.) High School, spent two seasons at Wisconsin before his transfer to Pearl River Community College in 2016.
After redshirting in 2014, Kinlaw played in one game at running back for the Badgers before he was moved to defensive back. He rushed 34 times for 150 yards and a touchdown over six games at the Mississippi junior college.
Three months since enrolling at South Carolina as a preferred walk-on, Kinlaw is enjoying life at his new home in Columbia.
“It’s been treating me well,” he said. “The weather is a lot better (than Wisconsin). I’m enjoying the coaching staff, a lot of the players and the area, in general.”
This spring, Kinlaw is competing for carries with Rico Dowdle and Ty’Son Williams, among others in a crowded Gamecocks backfield.
“I think I’m adapting pretty well, but as far as depth, coach hasn’t really gotten too caught up in that,” Kinlaw said. “He says just play and things will figure themselves out, when the time is right.”
Running backs coach Bobby Bentley, who served as his primary recruiter, passed that word to Kinlaw. It’s similar to the upfront, honest approach he took with Kinlaw on the recruiting trail.
“I told him we didn’t have a scholarship and we weren’t signing a running back this year,” Bentley said. “And I kept hammering it and kept recruiting him. I recruited him just like I was recruiting a scholarship player, but I didn’t have a scholarship for him. … I think he’s going to add a little something to the mix, too. He’s talented.”
Practice will play a large part in determining how the depth chart shakes out for the 2017 Gamecocks football season.
“We know that the more productive all of those guys are, the more productive we are as a team,” Bentley said.
That’s all Kinlaw can ask for, with two years of eligibility remaining.
“I think, now, at this point in my career, I’ve developed more of a downhill running style,” he said. “Especially from going into the Big Ten, so I think that helps me a lot, as far as me being a little more versatile, being able to do a little bit of the speed and being able to run downhill also.
“I think all of our backs have a good variety of both, just as far as the way we get taught in the classroom and then on the field.”