March 30, 2016
The University of South Carolina football program held its annual Pro Day on Wednesday. Seventeen draft-eligible former Gamecocks showcased their skills in front of scouts representing all 32 NFL teams on another beautiful morning in the Palmetto State.
The event began shortly after 9:30 a.m. in the Crews Building weight room, with each participant measured for height and weight, then tested in both the vertical and broad jumps, before finishing with the 225-pound bench press.
The players then moved to the Williams-Brice Stadium field where they ran the 40-yard dash along with a pair of shuttle runs and the three-cone drill before going through a series of individual drills specific to their position.
T.J. Gurley had an impressive day in the weight room, posting a 37-inch vertical leap, along with a 10-foot, two-inch standing broad jump. Gerald Dixon Jr. (34 reps) and Mike Matulis (30 reps) posted the top marks in the bench press.
Several former Gamecock players returned to support the current group, including NFL players Jadeveon Clowney, Connor Shaw, Bruce Ellington, Damiere Byrd, Corey Robinson, Captain Munnerlyn, Darian Stewart, Ronald Patrick, Jamon Meredith, Kelcy Quarles and Tori Gurley.
Here are the results of today's testing:
Here are quotes from several of the players who participated:
#11 Pharoh Cooper / WR
Gauging his performance for the day
I think I did great today. I don't know all of my times, but the route-running drills and catching the ball, punts, overall I felt like I did really good... I proved that I've got good route running and that I can catch the ball. They have always had questions about me catching the ball and route running, so I feel like I did good through the whole position drills. That's something I looked forward to. I'm not a big test guy. I'm not going to run a 4.3 40. I'd just rather go out there and play football.
On his approach leading up to the draft
Each day I'm going to come into the weight room or do whatever I have to do to keep my body in shape. Right after the draft you're going straight into training camp, so you've got to be in shape. There are not too many other rookies out there, so they're going to be running you and pushing you all throughout practice. I'm going to stay in shape this last month before I get drafted and just keep working out and pray for the best.
On the benefit of playing a big role on special teams
Having the experience in special teams means a lot. All of them talk to me about playing in special teams, whether it be punt returner, kick returner or being a gunner. They know I played defense in high school, so they know I can go down there and tackle somebody if I need to.
How his high character and personality helped him with the scouts
It's going to help me a lot. I feel like it helped me a lot in the interviews in the meeting room. Everything I talked to them about, they said I was a nice, respectful guy. I came from a military background, so a lot of coaches like that. Being disciplined. The interview process went good and I felt like I did well in all of my interviews. They know I'm a good character guy and they don't have to worry about any issues off the field.
#89 Jerell Adams / TE
Overall impression of his Pro Day
I feel like I had a pretty good Pro Day. I caught the ball well, did my drills well. I got a good number on bench press, so I feel like I had a pretty good day.
On how he enjoyed South Carolina's Pro Day and being back in Columbia
It was great. I got to spend some time with some of my guys and see some guys I hadn't seen in a couple of months, catch up on everybody, see everybody, so it was good.
On the advice he's received from current NFL pros
They told me to just keep grinding. Stay focused. Don't let up. Just keep going. When you get picked, keep grinding all summer. It's a business now.
On whether or not he enjoys the process leading up to the NFL Draft
It's a fun process. I am just blessed to be going through it. Coming from a small town, I look at the big picture, and I am just blessed.
#76 Mike Matulis / OL
On what specific things he wanted to show the scouts on Wednesday
I wanted to show that I'm durable, and that my injuries aren't hindering me anymore. My shoulders looked good, and my broad jump went well. I wanted to show that I'm healthy and that I can play.
On what it was like to be out at Williams-Brice Stadium for the final time
I enjoyed it. I missed it, and I definitely wanted to get back up here in Columbia. When I was out here I felt more in my element.
On what the process is for him moving forward
I have a workout tomorrow morning, and then I'll have my agent talk to some people to see where I'm at. I just have to do what I can do out here, and the rest will be in the hands of others. I can only control what I can control. People told me to enjoy the process since you only get to do it once.
#22 Brandon Wilds / RB
His overall thoughts on his pro day
It went well. I had some good shuttle times. This will always be home to me since I'm a local guy from Columbia. To be out here with my teammates is a great feeling.
On if the players wanted to make a statement on their last time on the field
We did. I've played with a lot of these guys out here since 2011. We know how good we are, and that's something we take pride it. We wanted to come out here one last time and give our all.
On what he proved to the scouts on Wednesday
I think I proved I'm an every-down back. A lot of teams have backs that can just catch the ball or run the ball. I can do a variety of things.
On if participating at the NFL Combine helped prepare him for Pro Day
Going through the combined helped me a lot. There are a lot more teams there, and it's more of an intense environment.
Shawn Elliott / Offensive Line Coach
His thoughts on wide receiver Pharaoh Cooper over the last few years
He's a great guy who you could count on game day. He could deliver at any moment, and we had a sense that he was our go-to guy. He did a great job in the locker room and never got down on himself.
On what it's like to see guys he's worked with the last few years auditioning for a job
I think it's fantastic. Anytime you have an opportunity to come out here and put your talent in front of NFL scouts is a good feeling. They're going to have their shot.
On seeing offensive tackle Mike Matulis fully healthy for his pro day
It's really nice. Just looking at him, you can almost question whether he was even injured. He's big and physical, and he can move. I wish him all the best.
#92 Gerald Dixon Jr. / DL
Recapping his pro day
I think I did pretty good, I did pretty good on my bench, I think I got 34 reps. Just feels good to be out here and run around and do some drills for the scouts... I had high expectations, I felt like I had something to prove. Today is also my birthday. I wanted to give my all today. I wouldn't want to be any other place than right here in Willy B celebrating my birthday on Pro Day.
On the stress of pro day
When you play at Williams-Brice you are in front of 80,000 people, this is just a couple of scouts and I treated it like game day. It is a lot of fun being out here having family and friends watching you, and so many younger guys watching you. It's just a blessing to be out here.
#44 Gerald Dixon / DL
Recapping his pro day
It was a pretty good experience, I had fun working out with my brother too. I was just trying to show that I'm healthy, 100 percent, and that there are no doubts about that. I can be the type of player that can help a team out in the future.
On his nerves entering pro day
You have jitters at first, but once you get going you just forget about all the people watching and you just do what you've been doing your whole life.
#71 Brandon Shell / OT
On how he thought he looked today
I thought I looked pretty good. You can always work to get better at things. I feel like just being out here around all these different coaches I learned a lot of new stuff I can work on.
On this being an audition for a job and the mindset you have to have
You just have to come into this with a clear head and ready to work. They are going to take you through the ringer and see how you perform when you're tired. So my mindset coming out here today was just being ready to work.
On his chances of being drafted
It doesn't matter if I go undrafted, fifth round, third round or seventh round, I just want to play.
#43 Garrison Gist / FB
On his expectations for the day and what he wanted to show the scouts
I wanted to show them my hands, and I felt like I did a good job of that and showing them the fast feet -- I did a lot of footwork stuff getting ready for today -- just showing them that I can move around like one of the running backs but a little bit bigger.
On the opportunity to take part in pro day
I know coming out of high school a lot of guys didn't even think I'd get to this point. I had plenty of people say that if I got to play D-I football it would be a long shot, so just overcoming all of that, getting to play D-I football and come out and perform in front of these guys has been great. It's a very fun experience.
On his professional plans outside of football
I've been going about the whole process as if I wasn't even doing pro day. I've been sending out resumes and applications to different places that I want to work at, just going about it as pro day being the Plan B and I have the Plan A as I came to school and got my degree and grad school.
#8 Kaiwan Lewis / LB
On his feelings returning to South Carolina for pro day
It was great. I had so much fun in the stadium before I left, and now to come back and be with those same guys that I played with for three years, and two years with Pharoh Cooper and a couple of other guys that came out early, it's been real good ... Yes it's definitely a good reunion. I talked with Coach Spurrier yesterday and all the staff here. I met all of the new guys. It still feels like home. I graduated from here and this is somewhere I can always come back to and talk to the coaches. It's great to be welcomed here.
Gauging his pro day performance
I feel real good. I went through all of the testing and things like that. Improved on a lot of numbers. I had a higher vertical, better short shuttle. So far that's all the numbers I know. I did the same thing on bench again, I got 19. I did good on all the drills we performed today -- all the defensive line drills and all of the defensive back drills.
#34 Mason Harris / DL
On his return to South Carolina to take part in pro day
I'm grateful for them to let me come back for pro day, this is my third event this month so I'm grateful for them to let me come back and be around the guys and hang out. I've been around these guys for four or five years, we're best friends, so to come back and compete with them again and wear the Gamecock again has been real fun.
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