Kaiwan Lewis and Mason Harris turned in their South Carolina football jerseys for those of other schools a year ago. Harris became an Owl, Lewis a Scarlet Knight, and their time as Gamecocks became part of personal histories.
Wednesday, at the USC’s pro day, both had their chance to come back.
“It’s great,” Lewis said. “I had so much fun in this stadium before I left. And now to come back, be with those same guys that I played with for three years, or two years with Pharoh Cooper and couple other of those guys.
“It’s a blessing to be back down here at Williams-Brice competing again. Feel like I’m back out here making plays.”
After his role shrank between sophomore and junior years, Lewis chose to return close to home and spend his senior year at Rutgers, where he finished third on the team with 69 tackles and picked off a pair of passes in 2015. Harris likewise returned closer to his home state, joining up with a first-year program at Kennesaw State.
He made 31 tackles, 12 for loss, to help the Owls to a 6-5 season, but he said he relished the chance to wear the Gamecock again.
“I’m grateful for them to let me come back and do pro day,” Harris said. “This is my third event this month. So I’m grateful for them to let me come back and be a round the guys and hang out.”
He said he’s posted similar numbers across all three events, and he was happy to see old friends. Many of the players present Wednesday were ones Harris came to Columbia with. Former No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney, another member of the 2011 class, was also on hand, watching former teammates in NFL auditions.
Lewis participated in Rutgers’ pro day and said he improved his vertical jump (33 inches) and short shuttle. He did much of his pre-draft training in Florida and will return to New Jersey to finish things up.
He said he’s got workouts set with the New York Jets and New York Giants.
But before that, he gets to see old friends, once left behind but never completely.
“It’s definitely a good reunion,” Lewis said. “Talked to coach (Steve) Spurrier (Tuesday), all of the staff here. Met all the new guys. It still feels like home. I graduated from here, and this is somewhere I can always come back to.”