USC Gamecocks Football

South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel wraps up dominant week of Senior Bowl practices

Deebo Samuel visits Gamecocks’ Belk Bowl practice

The South Carolina Gamecocks practiced Thursday for the Belk Bowl at Charlotte Latin School.
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The South Carolina Gamecocks practiced Thursday for the Belk Bowl at Charlotte Latin School.

The week of practices at the Senior Bowl might as well have been the Deebo Samuel show.

Each day, more highlights emereged of the South Carolina Gamecocks football star putting defenders on skates and pulling in big grabs. So in an event more focused on the practices than the game that will take place at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Mobile, Ala., he made a name for himself.

That honor came soon after a day where he threw a nasty move on a corner in red zone work.

Samuel told NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero he developed a bit of a rapport with West Virginia quarterback Will Grier, but mostly he kept his focus on a simple goal.

“Just coming out here, just taking advantage of every opportunity I get,” Samuel told Pelissero. “Show them what I’m capable of.”

NFL.com’s draft experts picked him as a top-5 standout from the second and third days of practice.

“He was fantastic all week,” Lance Zierlein wrote. “He’s physical, well put together and runs good routes. Receivers get grabbed a ton out here at Senior Bowl practices. The corners are really grabby -- things that are going to be penalties at the next level. Not only did he play through it, but a lot of times he worked himself wide open through his physicality inside the route and route acumen. He was smart in terms of how he got out of his brakes, and he caught everything that was thrown his way. I talked to a couple of teams that were really excited about what he did in the first two days here and there’s no way they’re not going to like what they saw today.”

The Charlotte Observer’s Marcel Louis-Jacques wrote: “Samuel might be the best wide receiver in Mobile this week. The South Carolina product continued to showcase footwork and separation ability that could launch him up draft boards over the next few months. Per The Draft Network, Samuel admitted he needs to improve his blocking but he was lethal during red zone drills and his hands were automatic — he also drew praise on the sidelines from Mobile native and Carolina Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, who also played at South Carolina.”

Samuel came through a lot in his Gamecocks career, capping it with a 62-catch, 882-yard, 11-touchdown, All-SEC season as a senior.

He finished his career with 148 catches, 2,076 yards and 23 offensive touchdowns. He also returned four kicks for touchdowns and added another score chasing down a fumbled punt.

As a prospect, he’s a strong player with the ball in his hands, a pass catcher who plays bigger than his size and a dynamic returner to boot. He missed more than a few games early in his career with nagging hamstring issues, then a broken leg and foot problem cost him most of his redshirt junior season, derailing a dominant start and potential trip to the draft a year earlier.

Samuel skipped USC’s bowl for draft preparation. He is projected as the No. 52 player in the draft by CBS.

Reese’s Senior Bowl

What: The Senior Bowl is considered the premier scouting event for college seniors and top NFL prospects

Where: Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.

When 2:30 p.m. Saturday

Watch: NFL Network

SC connections: South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel (1) and OL Dennis Daley (78) along with Clemson WR Hunter Renfrow (18) are in the game and all on the South team.

Deebo Samuel and other Gamecock seniors were honored at Williams-Brice Stadium before the Chattanooga football game on Saturday, November 17.

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