It will be difficult for Deebo Samuel to match the start he had to last season — six touchdowns and 450 all-purpose yards in 11 quarters of football.
Still, that’s exactly what South Carolina coach Will Muschamp expects from his senior wide receiver.
“Absolutely, that’s what I’m expecting,” Muschamp said Thursday at SEC Media Days. “Last year, he was probably as electric and explosive player as there was in college football. That’s certainly our expectation.”
Samuel reintroduced himself to the SEC on Thursday as one of three Gamecocks players traveling with Muschamp for a four-hour round of interviews. He did so, as usual, in style. The 6-foot, 210-pound Chapman native wore a white suit with glossy floral pattern, bright white shoes, black pants and a black bow tie, and was awarded the mythical “best dressed” of the week award by several media members.
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“I would think so,” Samuel said.
When Samuel, who suffered a season-ending broken leg in the third game of the 2017 season, returns to the actual football field, most expect him to do it in similar high fashion.
“It changes everything for South Carolina’s offense,” CBS Sports analyst Barrett Sallee said.
“It gives you a security blanket,” former Georgia quarterback and current SEC Network analyst D.J. Shockley said. “He’s a guy who changes the mind frame of a quarterback, knowing, ‘If I get in trouble, I just have to find Deebo. He’s going to find a way for me.’”
In his career, he has 86 catches for 1,194 yards and five touchdowns, 17 carries for 128 yards and seven touchdowns and 19 kick returns for 649 yards and three touchdowns. Losing Samuel last year “took a toll on our whole team,” South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley said.
“To have him back out there, you can see the guys’ confidence in him,” Bentley said. “Obviously, I’m going to say my receiver is the best (in the SEC). That’s the kind of attitude you have to have as quarterbacks and receivers.”
It’s the kind of attitude Samuel has about himself.
On Thursday, he proclaimed himself 100 percent healthy and ready for whatever load the coaching staff puts on him during preseason camp and during the season.
“I just pray that God keeps me healthy this whole season and whatever happens, happens,” he said. “I’m capable of anything.”