South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp was pleased to see the likes of Hayden Hurst, Skai Moore, Jamarcus King and Taylor Stallworth be invited to the NFL combine.
But he thinks a few more Gamecocks should’ve made the cut.
“Those guys have worked extremely hard and are certainly very deserving of the opportunity,” Muschamp said. “As are some other guys that didn’t get invited to the combine, quite frankly.
“Certainly, I felt like we should have had more.”
The Gamecocks had a small group of departures, with a 2017 roster heavy on underclassmen. So which Gamecocks could fall into the category of snubs?
▪ Chris Lammons, defensive back – He’s not the biggest player at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, but he’s both fast and quick. More than that, he’s versatile. Lammons, a career corner and nickel, moved to safety because of injuries and thrived (he also helped in the slot at points). He had 79 tackles and seven pass breakups as a senior.
▪ Dante Sawyer, defensive end – He’s got solid size at 275 pounds on a 6-foot-3 frame. What always stood out were the flash plays he could make, where he would rip past an offensive linemen or pop out of a pile for a big tackle for loss. His senior season included 30 tackles, three sacks, five pass breakups and five forced fumbles, though he also saw his starting spot go to a younger player. He was still the team’s third-most used outside player and often played inside in passing situations.
Best of the rest
▪ D.J. Smith, safety – He was a little bigger than Lammons, 5-foot-11, 198 pounds, and not as versatile. He solely played safety after coming in as a cornerback. He made 50 tackles, was at least a consistent presence in the lineup and did OK work as an undersized hitter.
▪ Alan Knott and Cory Helms, offensive linemen – Neither had particularly notable seasons, but each was at least able to carve out long tenures in an SEC lineup (Knott started 42 games at USC, Helms 23 in two seasons). Helms is bigger at 309 pounds as compared with 290 for Knott.
USC had only 11 departing starters or rotation players, and four got invites. That said, their coach made a point to say the invite is far from a necessary step.
“It’s not an ‘answer-all’ to go to the combine,” Muschamp said. “I’ve had guys get drafted in the third and fourth round that didn’t go to the combine. They need to make their pro day count, and I know they will.”