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January 13, 2011

Bennett to Transfer

DeMario Bennett is departing South Carolina -- for real this time.

The rising redshirt sophomore, who considered leaving the Gamecocks during preseason camp, has informed the USC coaching staff that is planning on transferring, according to a source within the program. Bennett is headed to Coastal Carolina, as was also confirmed to GamecockCentral.com on Thursday morning.

It makes sense for the receiver to head to a lower-level institution, where he can play right away instead of sitting out the customary transfer year. Flustered at a lack of playing time in August after his true freshman year was spent dealing with hamstring injuries, Bennett was about to head to Coastal Carolina before talking with coach Steve Spurrier and changing his mind.

"It's a great university, coaches, football program, school, the building we have," Bennett said on Aug. 14, referring to USC. "Like I said earlier, I was just thinking out of frustration."

Bennett did get on the field for eight games in 2010, but only had one catch for 4 yards. Looking ahead to 2011, there was an opening with Tori Gurley electing to go pro, but at a skinny 6-foot-2 and 174 pounds, Bennett would be challenging for a role as a slot receiver.

The Gamecocks will return freshman Ace Sanders, who had a strong season, and have plans for incoming freshman Damiere Byrd. Both are smaller and quicker than Bennett and seem to be better groomed for playing the slot.

The pull of significant minutes was too much to ignore this time. Spurrier has always been open about letting players transfer to other schools if they feel they can play more at a new institution, and Bennett will be able to play with former USC quarterback Aramis Hillary at Coastal.

Bennett bid farewell on his Facebook page on Thursday, saying, "To all my former USC teammates, I'm gone (sic) miss y'all boys and I love y'all boys real talk."

Bennett came to USC from Coffee County (Ga.) High School and was considered a two-star prospect.

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