People have always asked me, Brian, “how/why did you become a South Carolina fan”? The answer is complicated. I was born and raised in the Mobile, Alabama, area. The majority of my family are Alabama fans. They are just a shade below Updyke level fans. However, I was always a different kind of kid. I didn’t conform to the status quo. The family loves Alabama. I decided to root for a team I have no connection to whatsoever.
The first game I watched was a loss to LSU in the 1987 Gator Bowl. I became hooked on the South Carolina Gamecocks after that.
I have only been in the state once. In 2007, my cousin and I went to a Thursday night game against Kentucky. The game was amazing and quite an experience.
I have seen them play live several times when playing at Alabama or Auburn. I also covered them in the 2016 Birmingham Bowl.
Now that the pleasantries are out of the way let us get down to business. The South Carolina Gamecocks produced a hefty amount of talent during the Will Muschamp era. However, that didn’t lead to a ton of success on the field. Muschamp was fired during the 2020 season and subsequentially replaced by first-time head coach Shane Beamer.
For the 2022 NFL Draft, South Carolina has at least five prospects that could hear their name called over seven rounds.
#1 EDGE Kingsley Enagbare, Sr, 6-3 260
Enagbare came to Columbia as a diamond in the rough. He has then gone on to improve each season. Enagbare is now one of the top sack artists in the SEC. He possesses a good combination of speed, power, and bend. Enagbare, despite the sack numbers, could stand to finish a little better. He left a few extra sacks on the field last year. If he puts together a solid senior campaign, I could see Enagbare playing his way into round one.
#2 DL Zacch Pickens, Jr, 6-3, 305
At the behest of my colleague Shane P Hallam, I went back and re-watched the tape on Zacch Pickens. What you see is someone who is still rough around the edges but with the potential to be great. Pickens is a former five-star recruit out of high school. He came in as a defensive end but has since bulked up. Pickens hasn’t put up gaudy numbers, but the youngster has been disruptive. He was especially active against Mississippi and Georgia last year. If Pickens can continue to emerge in 2021, his draft stock and the Gamecocks defensive fortunes will rise.
#3 RB Kevin Harris, Jr, 5-10, 225
There were not many bright spots for the 2020 South Carolina Gamecocks. Kevin Harris was the exception. As a true sophomore, Harris led the SEC in rushing yards per game, just ahead of Steeler’s first-round pick Najee Harris. The former three-star runner has tremendous balance and runs with intensity. Harris has deceptive speed. I don’t think he is going to run 4.4. However, if he were a 4.55 guy, I would be okay with that. I like Harris as a safety valve option out of the backfield, but he isn’t a nuanced route runner. Harris could be a top 5 running back in this class should he declare.
#4 TE Nick Muse, Sr, 6-3, 232
Muse is the younger brother of current Las Vegas Raider Tanner and is a transfer from William & Mary. Muse has dealt with several injuries over his career. He is gritty. Muse became the focal point of the Gamecocks passing attack after Shi Smith opted out late into the 2020 season. He has decent run after the catch ability and is a solid route runner. Muse drops more passes than one probably should. I believe Muse will be a solid addition to a team on the latter portion of day three.
#5 TE EJ Jenkins, Sr, 6-7 242
The potential here is intriguing. Jenkins transferred up from FCS St. Francis (NY) along with backup QB Jason Brown. Jenkins was a dominant force as a wide receiver in the Northeast Conference with 779 yards and 13 TDs in 2019. He has tremendous mismatch potential against SEC defenses as a tight end. Especially in the red zone. Depending on his usage and production, Jenkins could rise on draft boards as the 2021 season progresses.