Josh Kendall

Rashad Fenton had to explain bowl absence at NFL Combine. Here’s what he told teams

Rashad Fenton at the NFL Combine

Former USC cornerback Rashad Fenton talks about his week at the NFL Combine.
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Former USC cornerback Rashad Fenton talks about his week at the NFL Combine.

As Rashad Fenton is hoping his NFL career is about to start, he’s answering questions about how his South Carolina career ended.

Fenton was asked by at least one pro team at the NFL Combine why he sat out the second half of the Gamecocks’ 28-0 Belk Bowl loss to Virginia.

“I just told them I injured myself. It’s part of the game, it’s nothing spectacular or different,” Fenton said.

Fenton started 12 games for South Carolina last season and led the Gamecocks with three interceptions, but after the Belk Bowl head coach Will Muschamp seemed uncertain why Fenton hadn’t played the final half of his college career, leading to speculation about the cause.

It was a groin injury, Fenton said.

“I got injured on a stop and go pass. A receiver ran into my leg,” he said. “I managed to finish the half. When I got to halftime, I had to let the training staff know I couldn’t run and that if I did go out there it was only going to hurt the team.”

The unanswered questions about the situation left Fenton to explain that to NFL teams, which he said “rubbed me the wrong way.”

“Yeah, I felt like it was a weird approach to it (by Muschamp),” he said.

Fenton hasn’t spoken to Muschamp about the situation, he said, but plans to be at the Gamecocks’ Pro Day on March 21. That will be another opportunity to impress pro scouts after he ran an unofficial 4.53 in the 40-yard dash at the combine Monday.

The 5-foot-11, 193-pounder is rated the 35th-best cornerback prospect in this year’s draft class by CBSSports.com.

“Whatever God has planned for me,” he said of his draft stock. “I don’t have too many plans. I’m just grateful to be here.”

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Rashad Fenton speaks to a reporter at the 2019 NFL Combine. Josh Kendall jkendall@thestate.com

Fenton had two career interceptions entering the season and believes the career-high three that he had last year boosted his draft stock. He also had 34 tackles, including 2.5 for loss.

“I feel like I had a great season,” he said. “I needed more stats coming into the year. The stats just needed to match, and I feel like I increased my numbers.”

Often the most outwardly boisterous player on the field for the Gamecocks in 2019, Fenton said that behavior was the result of his confidence in his play.

“I feel like my junior and senior years were more of the years I expressed myself,” the Miami native said. “It just comes from being confident and knowing that I have worked hard so when I’m out on the field this is my podium, this is my stage. If I’m playing good, I feel like I can express myself.”

He’s hopeful he gets more chances to do that.

Josh Kendall has covered SEC football for almost 20 years. He has covered the Gamecocks since the 2010 season. Have a question? Shoot him an email or find him on Twitter, and he’ll be happy to respond.
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