South Carolina offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon doesn’t read much in the newspaper on or social media, he insists, but he knows his players do, and that worries him a little bit in regard to his wide receivers.
The Gamecocks return Deebo Samuel from injury to join Bryan Edwards as the top two wide receivers, and the duo is certain be ranked by many offseason publications as the best starting pair in the SEC and one of the tops in the nation.
“We talk to them about it a bunch,” said McClendon, South Carolina’s wide receivers coach.
The talk usually goes like this: Don’t pay any attention to that stuff.
“The one thing you have to make sure they understand is that that’s not reality,” McClendon said. “You have to go out there and earn what you get. Nobody is going to go out there and play you a certain way because they read something about you.”
Samuel had 15 catches for 250 yards and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns despite playing fewer than three games last year. Edwards led the team with 64 catches for 793 yards and five receiving touchdowns.
Samuel, a senior, already is projected as a first-round NFL Draft pick in some early mock drafts.
“That can’t be a concern,” McClendon said. “I’ve been very fortunate to coach guys who have gotten drafted very, very high in the draft, and that wasn’t their motivation. Their motivation was to go out there and play well and not go out there and get drafted every Saturday. Nobody needs to look at that. The only thing that is going to get guys drafted high is playing well.”