Zeb Noland received national attention in the summer of 2021 as he was pulled up to start as quarterback for the Gamecocks as a graduate transfer. The news sent shockwaves around the country, as nearly every media outlet was speaking on Zeb Noland and South Carolina’s unusual decision.
To the surprise of most, Zeb Noland took full advantage of his first start with the Gamecocks. Noland threw for 121 yards and four touchdowns, in a 46-0 shut out win against Eastern Illinois.
Once again, media outlets began covering Noland and his impressive performance.
Shortly after, Noland’s national media attention began to die down. However, Noland’s career at South Carolina was only beginning.
Noland would go to play in six more games over the season and would make three more starts. He would finish the season with 690 yards 7 touchdowns and only 1 interception.
Against ECU, Noland would throw for over 200 yards in a come from behind win in Greenville, NC. A performance where Noland stayed calm, collect, and led his team to a victory despite early offensive struggles.
Against Vandy, Noland would walk into the ball game with 1:36 remaining to replace starting quarterback Luke Doty. The Gamecocks were down 20-14. In eight plays Noland would drive the Gamecocks 75 yards to score the go-ahead touchdown. Carolina would go on to win 21-20.
Against UNC, “Noland’s final ride,” he would assist Dakereon Joyner in an explosive offensive performance, including a 66-yard touchdown to Jaheim Bell. The Gamecocks would win in surprising fashion, 38-21.
The fact that a graduate transfer was pulled up to play on a Power 5 SEC team after he thought his playing career was over was wild enough. The fact that he put up a notable performance in his first start, even more impressive. Noland however, put up four satisfactory performances in his season with the Gamecocks.
The most disappointing thing about this story, is the fact that most of the nation (aside from Carolina fans) forgot about Zeb Noland after week one, despite the accomplishments he would have later in the season.
What other stories in 2021 could be compared to Noland’s season at South Carolina? Jim Harbaug finally taking down Ohio State? Georgia winning a national Championship for the first time in over 4o years? Cincinnati making the playoffs?
All are impressive; however, similar stories will be witnessed again. Teams take down heated rivals for the first time in years, players reach record numbers, non-power five teams make names for themselves.
Do you think you’ll ever find another player do what Zeb Noland has done this past season? In short, never again! That is why I believe his story needs more national recognition and why it was the greatest one of the season.