South Carolina’s pro day includes 3 not yet turning pro
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) The NFL got a look at South Carolina’s departing players, while a handful of young, rising Gamecocks got a chance to taste what they’ll face preparing for the pros.
A new NCAA guideline permitted schools to let a handful of returning underclassmen meet and take part in drills without tainting their eligibility. So tight end Hayden Hurst, receiver Deebo Samuel and offensive lineman Zack Bailey all talked to NFL evaluators and got themselves measured alongside their older former teammates.
”It’s something that’s good that the NCAA and the NFL came together to get more information on draft-eligible guys so they came make better decisions in December” about their college futures, Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said.
Hurst, who walked on after playing baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, was a 23-year-old junior last season and had 48 catches at tight end. Samuel, a redshirt sophomore, led the Gamecocks with 59 receptions for 783 yards. Bailey is a 6-foot-6, 311-pound junior who started all 13 games last season at left guard.
None of them took part in drills, Muschamp said, but the session gave them an opportunity to hear from various teams and get a handle on what’s to come down the road.
”It’s a good experience for them,” Muschamp said.
It was also a good experience for South Carolina’s seniors, few of whom are projected to get drafted.
Things were far more low key than just three years ago when All-American Jadeveon Clowney was South Carolina’s top prospect and drew several NFL general managers and coaches. That included GM Rick Smith and coach Bill O’Brien of the Houston Texans, who took Clowney No. 1 overall.
Two South Carolina draftees from a year ago, Los Angeles Rams receiver Pharoh Cooper and New York Jets offensive tackle Brandon Shell, were at the workouts to cheer on their ex-teammates. Cooper was a fourth-round pick in 2016, Shell went one round later.
Gamecocks defensive end Darius English, who led the team with nine sacks last season, headed the current group of hopefuls that went through a crisp session at South Carolina’s indoor practice facility. English, at 6-6 and 238 pounds, is projected as a late-round selection.
Kicker Elliott Fry ended the workouts by booting several field goals and displaying his strong leg on kickoffs. Fry, who became the school’s all-time career scoring leader last season, knows it’s a long shot getting drafted as a kicker. ”It’s something I hope for, but I’m not necessarily going to get too upset if I don’t because I can go somewhere in free agency,” he said.
Fry made 13 of 17 field goals last season, including a career long 55-yarder at Vanderbilt with 35 seconds left in a 13-10 South Carolina win.
The workouts were planned for Williams-Brice Stadium but moved inside because of steady rain the previous two days.
Hurst was happy for the chance.
”I just want to get my name out there,” he said. ”It’s an opportunity for us to get looks.”
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