Four Gamecocks Named to Athlon's Preseason All-SEC Teams|
Athlon Sports has released its 2017 SEC preseason all-conference teams. The national publication has recognized four Gamecocks among its first three squads.
Junior wide receiver Deebo Samuel was named to the list twice, earning first team honors as an all-purpose back, and second team recognition as a kick returner. The six-foot, 208-pounder from Inman, S.C., was second in the conference in all-purpose yards last season, averaging 132.0 per game. He caught 59 passes for 783 yards, rushed 15 times for 98 yards and logged 431 yards on 16 kickoff returns, an average of 26.8 yards per return, including a 100-yard touchdown return against Western Carolina.
Junior tight end Hayden Hurst joined Samuel on Athlon’s first team unit. The 6-5, 253-pounder from Jacksonville, Fla., set Carolina single-season records for a tight end with 48 receptions and 616 receiving yards. The first sophomore to be named a permanent team captain in school history, Hurst was also named the Dr. Harris Pastides Outstanding Student-Athlete Representative at the 2017 Garnet & Black Spring Game.
Senior linebacker Skai Moore earned a spot on Athlon’s second team. Moore, a 6-2, 221-pounder from Cooper City, Fla., returns to the active roster this fall after sitting out the 2016 season as a redshirt following neck surgery. Moore, a team captain in 2015, led the Gamecocks in tackles in each of his first three seasons while donning the Garnet and Black. Moore also has 11 career interceptions, just three shy of the school record of 14, held by Bo Davies.
Junior Zack Bailey was selected to the third team offensive line unit. Consistently grading out as the Gamecocks’ top offensive lineman in 2016, the 6-6, 311-pounder from Summerville, S.C., was moved to right tackle this spring after serving as the Gamecocks’ left guard last season. He has appeared in every game over the past two seasons, making 18 career starts.
The Athlon’s teams are based on how players will perform in 2017. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2017 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year.