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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Days before the rush of first downs and field goals, there's another team on the field at Williams Brice Stadium.

Their colors are garnet and black and their veteran player knows the game pretty well.

"It's more easy for me because I've been doing it for so long," said Eddie Dunning whose been painting the Gamecock's field for the past 30 years.

In that 30 years, Dunning has only missed one home game. It was the day he buried his mother.

He started working for USC Athletics in 1983, and was around for the first year of real grass when the black magic team took the field in 1984.

"You've got to measure," Eddie said. "You've got to make sure it's straight because the official is coming on Saturday and checking anyhow and you can't go marking then. Everything's got to be right."

Since it's got to be right,Eddie decided he'd only be able to pass the paint to someone he trusts.

Eddie's nephew Jonathan Dunning will finish his first year with the Athletics Department this September.

"Ya, he's hard on me," said Jonathan."He's always on me trying to keep me straightbut you know, I'm catching along and doing everything he asks me to do."

Jonathan paints both the practice and game fields with Eddie. He started with the little stuff, and for the first time this year, Jonathan is in charge of painting the numbers.

"We got to make sure everything is perfect," Jonathan said. "Can't have little mistakes and what not."

Ask around USC and everyone knows that lesson of perfection came from a pro named Eddie.

"He pretty much did the whole field by himself when they had less technology back in the day," Jonathan said.

Jonathan wasn't even alive when Eddie started painting.

Believe it or not, but just like 30 years ago, steaks and strings are still the secret of keeping the field straight. Eddie says new machines though have made it easier to paint the grass.

"The field's going to look shabby until about Friday," Eddie said.

Friday is when Eddie says he typically paints his favorite part of the field, the Gamecock at the center of it all. Eddie says with two machines, he can finish it in under two hours.

"See when they come here on Saturday, everybody see's the field and they say it's looking good, it's looking good, it's looking good,"Eddie said. "You've got to work for it to look good. You've got to work after the game to make sure it'll look good for the next game."

Jonathan hasn't helped paint the Gamecock yet but knows when people say the field looks good, that he played a part in the win.

"I hear it all the time," Jonathan said. "You know, when they say it, I don't say you know I did it or nothing. I just be smiling. They think it's pretty easy but there's a lot of work put into it."

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