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‘Out of nowhere, it just stopped’: Dexter Wideman left the Gamecocks, but not USC

Dexter Wideman about getting USC degree: ‘A lot of people doubted me’

USC football player Dexter Wideman suffered a career-ending injury. That didn't stop him from getting his degree from South Carolina.
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USC football player Dexter Wideman suffered a career-ending injury. That didn't stop him from getting his degree from South Carolina.

College is often about maturation.

A young person steps on campus and a few years later leaves someone else. The path isn’t always a straight one, but sometimes, the college experience and that change from start to finish shines through.

South Carolina football’s Dexter Wideman lived that.

His time as a player ended more than a year ago with coach Will Muschamp announcing a transfer to South Carolina State. But Wideman didn’t go there. He stayed around, became a regular student and finished up his degree in four years.

“It means everything to me because just coming from Saluda,” he said. “When I first starting going to college, ... I was just focused on playing football. And then things did not go my way with my injuries and stuff, so I just had to focus on just getting a degree. So that’s when I just went extra hard in the classroom, and it just made me feel so much better.”

This is an Under Armour All-American who flipped from Florida State to South Carolina on signing day in 2014. The four-star prospect spent a year at prep school and then, in his first spring at USC, had Steve Spurrier publicly getting after him for missing classes.

There are many players who have such problems, leave the team and then just leave. This story isn’t uncommon, but it didn’t become Wideman’s.

“Once the football got taken away, I had no other choice,” Wideman said. “I wasn’t just going to give up on school and football. I had to find something to motivate me to get there. Something that I want to say is my son, he’s about to turn 1 in January. By the time I stopped playing football, I found out I was having a son. That was my main motivation, I had to do this for him. I’ve got to set myself up and my family for success.”

That meant more time in The Dodie, South Carolina’s academic center. That meant dealing with a new kind of free time. He didn’t have practice or workouts to wake up for. He didn’t have the structure.

And he didn’t have the game that had guided most of his life to that point.

“It’s a lot different,” Wideman said. “The simple fact that since I was in middle school, all I knew was football. Out of nowhere, it just stopped because of my injury. It was a big transition having to get my mind right just for school, not focus on football, which was very stressful because that’s something I really love to do.”

He’d considered a transfer, but a few injuries helped convince him to focus on school.

Wideman majored in retail and currently has an internship in West Columbia with a uniform company. He noted a problem many players have had: He simply didn’t have any work experience because football took all the time it does.

Now he’ll be the first in his family to get a college degree. He said his goal is the same as most college students: Use his education to set himself and his family up for a prosperous future.

It’s a different outlook from the kid who arrived on campus four years ago.

“A lot of people have doubted me,” Wideman said. “Didn’t think I was going to make it to get my degree. I’m here.”

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