Wide receiver Deebo Samuel shows his talents during NFL Pro Timing Day at USC
Former South Carolina offensive lineman Zack Bailey just wanted to run.
He’s five months removed from a broken leg and damaged ankle. His NFL Combine work was limited not because he couldn’t run, but just because he had not run. He got to correct that Thursday during South Carolina’s Pro Day at the Jerri & Steve Spurrier Football Indoor Practice Facility.
“When you break your leg and you become immobile, you realize how much you depend on your legs,” Bailey said. “And so just being able to run, being able to get back, being able to show I’m full go, being able to do O-line drills, show that I have no pain, no soreness.”
Players came into the day with all sorts of goals. Bailey wanted to run. Deebo Samuel stood by the times he posted at the combine, mostly doing position drills and talking with teams. Bryson Allen-Williams had a few things he wanted to follow up from the combine.
For the most part, players said they felt good about what they’d accomplished. Bailey said he’s dropped a little weight and was focusing on his ankle, doing everything and anything to get that healthy.
And the attitude he had impressed his coach.
“Awesome,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said. “I thought he moved extremely well today. He’s a big, powerful man. He’s played a lot of football for us.
“He’s a guy that can create a lot of movement inside and a lot of teams are interested.”
Samuel didn’t speak to the media and at points was buried in interviews with various NFL scouts. He’s a projected pick in the second or first round, and he ran a 4.48 40-yard dash in Indianapolis.
He went through some position drills, caught passes from former Gamecock Perry Orth and fielded punts. But the off-field work took more precedence for him.
“It’s been very impressive to hear a lot of the scouts and a lot of the coaches who were here today talk about him,” Muschamp said, “how he’s handled this process and how impressive he was in interviews.”
Allen-Williams had the chance to go to the NFL combine but wasn’t able to do any of the jumping work. He got that done on Thursday.
“I was able to go knock some numbers off I wanted,” Allen-Williams said, “being able to go out, run again, show my ankle is healthy enough for me to go out there and compete.”
His biggest challenge will be showing skills as an inside linebacker, a position he didn’t play his final two seasons in college. He aimed to show he has the mobility and movement skills to play three downs.
Muschamp projected Allen-Williams as a “core” special teams player in the NFL who can help in other spots.
At one point, Muschamp pointed out his team has been short on draft picks of late. USC has had one player, Hayden Hurst, taken since 2016. That doesn’t help the pitch for his coaches on the recruiting trail, but Samuel will likely change that, and perhaps a few more.
“Our staff’s got a great track record,” Muschamp said, “not necessarily here at South Carolina so far with only one player being drafted in our first three seasons. Certainly hoping that’s going to change.”
A scout’s take
One scout said the day was to a degree about players just confirming what they’d already showed on film. There weren’t any true workout surprises, just solid players doing the things they were supposed to. He did say Bailey looked good for a player who broke his leg only five months early. He guessed there were four or five draftable players who worked out.