Despite a tumultuous and largely unsuccessful tenure, former Gamecock head coach Will Muschamp has produced quite a few NFL-ready prospects, with this year being no different. He already has a pair of first-round selections already under his belt.
However, he will be looking to leave South Carolina with another first-round selection added to his resume, as there’s at least one South Carolina prospect projected as a top-32 pick.
Muschamp failed to produce a winning season as head coach. However, it is no secret there is talent coming out of Columbia, South Carolina. Here are three Gamecocks prospects Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock must take notice of.
The Raiders can’t overlook these three Gamecocks
Jaycee Horn, CB
Jaycee Horn is the son of a former Pro-Bowl wide receiver, Joe Horn. He is inherently athletic, gritty, and the type of aggressive corner that Gruden and Mayock seem to like. He started ten games for the Gamecocks as a true freshman. The Georgia native then continued to use his extensive experience against SEC talent to his advantage. Evolving from more of a slot-corner to an outside presence, he has transformed himself into a first-round prospect.
Horn is an uber-competitive cornerback who causes disruption, much like Raiders’ 2020 draft selection Damon Arnette. It would be foolish to think Horn won’t be in play at the 17th pick in the draft. He would fit in well with this young secondary. On the other hand, his tackling and presence in the run game leave much to be desired. This could turn the team’s brass toward another position of need in the first round.
Raiders Comparison: CB Damon Arnette
Shi Smith, WR
Over the past three drafts, South Carolina has sent promising young stars. Yet, just as Master Yoda once said, “There is another”. Shi Smith spent much of his early years at Carolina as a complimentary piece to big-name receivers Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards. However, that quickly changed in the 2020 season. Without little help around, Smith basically carried South Carolina’s offense.
With multiple quarterback changes, a new offensive coordinator in his final year playing, Smith deserves plenty of praise. He went on to reel in 57 receptions, 633 yards, and four touchdowns in 2020. These numbers may not jump off the screen. Nevertheless, the South Carolina native put his money where his mouth is and put on an absolute clinic at the Senior Bowl.
The Raiders will most certainly be looking for another wide receiver this offseason. While Nelson Agholor’s future with the team is currently up in the air, the Raiders may take a mid-round flier on Shi Smith to bring similar traits to the offense that Nelly provided. Utilizing his release at the line of scrimmage as a strength, as well as his breakaway speed, there are a lot of similarities between Smith and Agholor and the former could have a similar role if the Raiders decide to double-dip on Carolina receivers in back-to-back drafts.
Raiders Comparison: WR Nelson Agholor
Sadarius Hutcherson, IOL
Sadarius Hutcherson was a four-year starter in the SEC. It is no wonder teams are beginning to take note of the senior guard. Hutcherson is projected to play guard in the NFL, it should be mentioned how versatile he truly is. Much to the liking of Coach Gruden, he has extensive experience across the offensive line, at both guard positions as well as left tackle.
Bringing all 320 pounds with him to the point of contact, Hutcherson carries himself as a mauler in the trenches. Using his technique as well as athletic ability to create holes for the ball carrier, he molded himself into an anchor for the Carolina offensive line over the course of his four years.
When considering Hutcherson’s mean streak, strength in run blocking, and versatility, Gabe Jackson is a close comparison for the South Carolina product. Looking back at Jackson’s career, he shuffled all across the offensive line, giving relief to depleted past Raiders’ teams. Hutcherson could be a serious target for Gruden and Mayock come draft day. Developing Hutcherson and Simpson over the same time frame could put the Raiders in a position to return to offensive line dominance in the near future.
Raiders Comparison: OG Gabe Jackson
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Top Photo: Travis Bell/Sideline Carolina