The University of South Carolina Gamecocks will complete their pro day on Wednesday. 13 players are expected to participate in workouts. Today, 5 players took to the podium and answered questions from the media. Check out the highlights from the media day!
Lineback Ernest Jones got us started for the gamecocks. He spoke a lot about his journey and the type of player that he is. He knew from the moment he put a football in his hand that he knew where he could go and that the NFL was possible. AATB writer David Miller asked about how he will be a leader in an NFL locker room. Jones responded by saying "I have always been the middle man, and I plan on doing that in the NFL." This should be very appealing to a rebuilding NFL team. In a new locker room, leaders need to step up and he is ready to do that.
His drive as an underdog has made him into the player he is. When he came to South Carolina as a 3-star recruit, he took full advantage of the opportunity to play. Jones understands not everyone has the opportunity to play college football and he was never going to take advantage of it. Jones is using the same mentality in the NFL. If he is lucky to compete in the NFL he will take full advantage of this opportunity.
After suffering injuries in 2020, his production declined as well as his draft stock. However, a very successful 2018 and 2019 is making him a very popular name in this draft. He spent the early parts of the press conference saying his body is feeling great and he does not feel his injuries are holding him back. Injuries are always a team's biggest concern during the draft process. Knowing his body is healthy and he feels good is a huge plus for NFL teams.
While at South Carolina, Mukuamu had the opportunity to play in different positions and schemes. I asked where on the field he feels most comfortable. Israel stated that he feels the most comfortable at CB, but he is willing to play wherever a team needs. He understands that the players who last the longest in the NFL are the most versatile. The big area of concern with him is going to be his health. If he can stay healthy he can be a very productive player on the field.
New father and former South Carolina wide receiver talked about how he takes every game as a great opportunity and will give it 110% every game. Football is a privilege and having the opportunity to play in college and the NFL is once and a lifetime. He credits his best friend San Francisco 49ers, WR Deebo Samuel, for teaching and mentoring him during this entire draft process. He believes without Samuel he would not be in the position he is in today and would be very unprepared for this process.
I asked if he was looking forward to lining up against a specific player in the NFL. Shi said he really hasn't thought about it that much. Smith is excited to line up against any CB in the NFL. Throughout his entire interview, you can feel his energy about playing in the NFL through the computer screen. NFL teams love players who can bring the energy, and Shi never fell short of full energy during his press conference.
Jaycee Horn- CB
The man everyone wanted to talk to, and one of the top players in this draft. He was asked early on in his interview about his decision on opting out of the South Carolina season. Horn talked about the decision and what transpired. Before the Ole Miss game, 4 members of his family traveled early to the game and contracted COVID-19. As a result, his aunt passed due to complications from the virus. He opted out of the remainder of the season to spend time with his family. He said if given the situation again, he would make the same decision. Family is his #1 priority! I have so much respect for him for this and so should every team.
I have gained so much respect for him after this press conference. He was not obligated with telling a family story about why he opted out. There are zero reasons to give him any negative review because of opting out. Horn talked briefly about responding to angry fans about opting out. He regrets responding to them, but when he was so upset about the passing of his aunt he lost his cool. Jaycee reiterated that if given the same scenario again he would make the same decision.
I have an early prediction as to where he ends up. If he falls and Cleveland can find a trade partner; be on the lookout for Andrew Berry to make a move and trade up to get Horn!
The final person to speak is interior offensive lineman Sadarius Hutcherson. Sadarius is coming off a fantastic season, but he was unable to pick up any off-season accolade. He said he was upset about it for a day and then it turned into a drive. He knows what type of season he had and a lack of accolades can not take that away.
We all know the player he is on the field from the film, but I asked what is a team getting from him that we can not see on film. Sadarius responded that his loyalty and hard work are unmatchable. The one area that he feels that puts him on an island of his own is his locker room presence. He makes sure every day he has a positive attitude even when things are not going well. Hutcherson wants to make sure that his positive energy makes everyone around him better. Sadarius says that all his teammates give him credit for bringing the energy every day and making them better players.