Blake Mitchell showed up at South Carolina’s pro timing day with a visibly thicker chest and broader shoulders.
But the 15 NFL scouts and assistant coaches conducting Wednesday’s workout were focused more on the lower body of the former Gamecocks’ quarterback: specifically his feet.
Standing along the home sideline at Williams-Brice Stadium following the workout, Mitchell said he was pleased with his performance but surprised he was not asked to do more drills testing his mobility.
“I’ve heard a lot of guys say they’re worried about me throwing on the run, but they didn’t even put me through a drill throwing on the run,” Mitchell said. “Maybe that’ll come later if somebody wants to bring me in (for an individual workout).”
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Since graduating from USC in December with a degree in history, Mitchell has been training at the Wellness Performance Institute outside Atlanta. The 6-foot-3 right-hander bulked up from 200 to 216 pounds, adding “16 pounds of muscle,” according to Scott Courter, Mitchell’s trainer.
Mitchell did 16 reps on the pro bench (225 pounds), seven more than he mustered when he arrived at Courter’s facility three months ago. He also improved his numbers in the broad and vertical jumps, while posting 40-yard dash times of 4.76 and 4.81 seconds.
“As a quarterback, it’s not really your 40 time. It’s more of your shuttle drill, moving side to side,” said Mitchell, who was happy with his shuttle results, as well.
“Not many quarterbacks in the NFL are going to outrun anybody. But they’re going to move around in the pocket and find space, buy time.”
Mitchell was one of 10 players who worked out Wednesday. Tailback Cory Boyd is considered the Gamecocks’ best prospect, although USC coach Steve Spurrier said Mitchell and defensive end Casper Brinkley could wind up with NFL teams.
“I hope he’s got a chance. Blake’s tall. He can throw,” Spurrier said. “Somebody will give him a chance. I think he’ll get a shot in some camp.”
Mitchell finished his career ranked third behind Todd Ellis and Steve Taneyhill in several of the school’s major passing categories. The LaGrange, Ga., native is the only USC quarterback to beat Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Clemson.
But he will have to explain to NFL teams why he was benched for big chunks of his final two seasons at USC.
“Coach Spurrier can be a hard coach to play for emotionally or mentally. He’s very exacting in his standards and doesn’t leave room for error,” said Richard Kopelman, Mitchell’s agent. “Blake had the downside of having been benched during the year. But then came back in the last four games playing against some of the best competition in the league (and) had his best games.
“The scouts like that mental toughness. One of the things that they said was that he has a lot of the intangibles that can’t be coached.”
Mitchell came off the bench to pass for 290 yards against Tennessee, but misfired on a couple of key throws in the Gamecocks’ 27-24 overtime loss. He finished the season with 300-yard passing games against Arkansas and Florida and a 284-yard effort versus Clemson, but missed out on a bowl when USC could not halt its five-game losing streak.
Mitchell is confident he has the arm strength to succeed at the next level, and jokingly boasted about his running ability when someone asked him about the Gamecocks’ new running package for quarterbacks.
“They should have let me run with it,” he said, laughing.
Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.