South Carolina football fans have asked themselves this question approximately 100 times since last season ended: What if Deebo Samuel had remained healthy the entire season?
So, let’s do the math.
Samuel, the Gamecocks senior wide receiver, had 474 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns when he left the field at the end of the third quarter against Kentucky in the third game of the season. He had suffered what would later be determined to be a broken left leg six plays earlier while making a 9-yard gain on a reception.
If you extrapolate Samuel’s statistics for a full season of 13 games, that comes out to 2,240 all-purpose yards and 28 touchdowns. Those numbers would have put him third in the nation in all-purpose yards (behind San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny and Penn State running back Saquon Barkley) and third in touchdowns (behind Penny and Florida Atlantic’s Devin Singletary).
With those numbers, Samuel would be the Gamecocks new career leader in all-purpose yards (easily outdistancing Heisman Trophy winning running back George Rogers’ 1,917 all-purpose yards in 1980) and touchdowns (crushing Marcus Lattimore’s 19 scores in 2010).
Samuel’s receiving yards from 2017 (250) expanded across a full season would have left him with 1,182 yards for the season, which would have been the second-best single-season in school history, behind only Alshon Jeffery’s 1,517 yards in 2010.
Samuel has yet to play more than 10 games in a season due to injuries. In 2015, he was limited to five games due to a hamstring injury. In 2016, he led the Gamecocks with 59 catches and 783 yards despite playing in just 10 games due to another hamstring injury. Then last year was limited to three games.
He will enter the 2018 season 26th in school history with 1,194 receiving yards despite playing in only 18 games so far in his career.
Samuel joins quarterback Jake Bentley, defensive lineman D.J. Wonnum and head coach Will Muschamp this week at SEC Media Days in Atlanta.
2018 SEC Media Days daily schedule
MONDAY, JULY 16
12:45–6:50 p.m.: Texas A&M, Kentucky and LSU
TUESDAY, JULY 17
9 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.: Georgia and Ole Miss
1:30 – 5:45 p.m.: Arkansas and Florida
WEDNESDAY, JULY 18
9 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.: Mississippi State and Tennessee
1:30 – 5:45 p.m.: Alabama and Missouri
THURSDAY, JULY 19
9 a.m. – 2 p.m.: Auburn, Vanderbilt, South Carolina (Will Muschamp, USC begin at 11:10 a.m.)