Guard Can, fullback Davis lead low-key Gamecocks pro day
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) All-Southeastern Conference guard A.J. Cann and 1,000-yard tailback Mike Davis were the main attractions during South Carolina's pro day, a much more low-key affair than the past couple of must-see sessions.
A year ago, dozens of NFL representatives came to Williams-Brice Stadium to watch No. 1 draft pick Jadeveon Clowney workout. In 2013, scouts watched injured running back Marcus Lattimore take his first strides toward getting drafted.
On Wednesday there were personnel from 28 NFL teams in attendance - with much of the focus on Cann and Davis.
Cann is a 6-foot-4, 311-pound lineman who blends above average strength with quick feet to slow down defenders. Cann, who spent time working out for New England Patriots personnel, is projected to be a late first round or early second-round draft pick.
Davis, 5-9 and 223 pounds, ran for 2,165 yards the past two seasons.
After his breakout sophomore season with 1,183 yards, Davis wound up 18 yards shy of becoming just the second-ever South Carolina player with multiple 1,000-yard seasons.
Davis opted to give up his senior season for the pros. He posted one of the fastest times in the 40-yard dash, clocked at 4.38 seconds. Davis is projected as a third or fourth round pick.
South Carolina's pro days have seen their share of fun the past couple of seasons.
NFL evaluators gave Lattimore, a one-time, sure-fire first-rounder, long applause after he went through limited drills a few months after his second devastating knee injury in as many seasons. Lattimore would eventually get picked by San Francisco in the fourth round, yet gave up the sport when he didn't make sufficient progress in his recovery.
A year ago, anyone with a network or an NFL connection turned out for Clowney-palooza. Scouts four and five deep watched the lightning quick defensive leap hurdles, catch tennis balls and blow through tackling dummies.
The Houston Texas showed up in full force with head coach Bill O'Brien, general manager Rick Smith and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel to work with and visit with Clowney, who'd the team picked a month later with the No. 1 overall selection.
There were a few wow moments, though.
Receiver Damiere Byrd drew double-takes when he posted a fast time of 4.25 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Byrd said later that some scouts had his run clocked at 4.16 seconds.
''That's kind of where I wanted to be at,'' said Byrd, who caught 20 passes for 308 yards and three touchdowns his senior season. ''Anything that helps confidence is good.''
Last year's starting quarterback Dylan Thompson had set a school single-season passing mark with 3,564 yards last season. The showing, though, was largely lost in South Carolina's up-and-down, 7-6 season after the team went 33-6 the previous three years.
Thompson put on a strong performance for NFL teams, completing all his passes including several long balls to Byrd, Davis and receiver Nick Jones. Thompson's hoping to follow the NFL path of South Carolina former quarterback Connor Shaw, who went undrafted and caught on with the Cleveland Browns' practice squad before starting the team's final regular-season game.
Thompson said he proved to teams that he was more athletic than he showed during his lone season as a starter.
''I'm unemployed right now,'' Thompson said with a smile. ''And I'm looking for a job.''
Like Shaw, Thompson or most of the 17 Gamecocks who worked out Wednesday should not expect to hear their names called during the draft in a few months. ''I know where I stand,'' Thompson said. ''If you're putting money on the line, you're probably not putting much on me right now. I'm OK with that.''