It's an event that has roots well into the Sparky Woods era and continues to be a positive force in the Columbia Community.

The 21st annual Pigskin Poets event is an annual trip by the USC football team to the Richland Library where they read to kids and let them know that reading is important no matter how old you are.

With construction going on at the Library, the kids and players gathered at the Drew Wellness Center for an afternoon of games, autographs and an appearance on stage by several players who read aloud to the kids.

Tight end Jacob August is a Cardinal Newman graduate who has made more than a few trips to the Richland County Public Library when his schoolwork demanded. He was making his first appearance as a Pigskin Poet and enjoyed reading to the kids on stage.

"It's really special to see these kids get into reading," August said.

"Anything I can do to help them do that is pretty gratifying."

Rebecca Thomas, youth services director for the Richland Library, says Thursday's event will inspire the kids to read more.

"They idolize these guys on the field and then to have them come here and tell them reading is important, it means so much to the children," Thomas said.

The players did take time to talk football as they will kick off preseason practice later this month. The first year of the Will Muschamp era saw USC finish 6-7. Senior linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams says year two should see a dramatic improvement.

"You put in, you know, mediocre effort, you get mediocre results," said Allen-Williams.

"We've stepped up the effort. We've stepped up what we did in the offseason. We're going way harder than we've been going, It's to prove a point. It's to prove a point to ourselves that we aren't a bottom of the barrel team that everybody thinks we are. We're ready for the season. We're ready to get into fall camp and get better."