Deebo Samuel would have had the opportunity to become a big play-maker for South Carolina a season ago, but for one thing that cost him his first seven games.
The nagging injury kept the redshirt freshman out most of the season, so it seemed a bad sign when he was limited early in fall camp with yet another hamstring issue, similar to the last one. He emerged healthy and back in the fold for the run of three open practices that wrapped up Wednesday.
“We were taking it easy,” Samuel said. “(Monday) was the first day without the band thing on.”
Not that he remained completely calm when it began acting up again.
“I was really, like, scared,” Samuel said, “because I was just standing there and it started hurting again.”
He now gets treatment three or four times a day.
The 6-foot Inman product isn’t the most physically imposing, but he just seems to make plays when he gets on the field. Seven of his 12 catches went for at least 10 yards in 2015, including a 48-yarder against Clemson.
He said he learned well from Pharoh Cooper, how to come off the ball, run routes and disguise what he was doing from defenders. They play slightly different spots, but if everything goes to plan, he’ll inherit Cooper’s role as top option through the air.
That plan could have been sidelined with the hamstring flare-up, and while that sort of thing never fully goes away, it’s not slowing him now.
“If it’s healthy, it’s healthy,” Samuel said. “I’m going to push myself to the limit.”
The Gamecocks won’t practice Thursday as the University of South Carolina begins fall semester classes. USC resumes practice Friday and is set to scrimmage Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium. All remaining practices are closed to the public.
Fan Appreciation Day is Sunday at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, 1101 Lincoln St. Coaches and players from the USC football team will be on hand to sign team posters at the free event. Doors open at 2 p.m., with the team scheduled to arrive at 2:30 and sign until 4 p.m.