The Daily Gamecock

Five former South Carolina players formally invited to NFL Combine

Five Gamecocks — Jaycee Horn, Ernest Jones, Israel Mukuamu, Shi Smith and Sadarius Hutcherson — were formally invited to join the NFL Combine on Tuesday. 

Projected first-round pick Jaycee Horn will headline tomorrow's University of South Carolina Pro Day workout.  

ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. has Horn going 16th overall to the Arizona Cardinals in his latest mock draft. 

“I feel like I’m the best defensive player in the draft. I’m versatile, you know I’ve got the size, I've got the speed," Horn said. 

Horn opted out of the 2020 season following South Carolina's loss to Ole Miss in November, which came as a surprise to some Gamecocks fans. 

After seven weeks, Horn opened up to why he opted out of the 2020 season, saying his mom and siblings went down to Oxford, Mississippi a week early because of family ties in the area. As a result, his family dealt with COVID-19 issues which led to the death of his aunt, who was considered a high risk of infection. 

“After I heard the news about my aunt, you know, I just wanted to spend time with my family before I moved onto the next stage of my life," Horn said. "I could tell you now if I could go back I’d opt again because you know, I put my family before anything.”

In Horn’s three-year career at South Carolina, he totaled 101 tackles, seven tackles for a loss and two interceptions. 

Cornerback Israel Mukuamu is another defensive prospect in the South Carolina draft class. Mukuamu is a projected fourth-round pick according to the NFL Mock Draft Database. 

Mukuamu’s had 86 total tackles and seven interceptions including a pick-six during his time at South Carolina. 

Israel had 11 total tackles, three interceptions for 53 yards and his lone college touchdown during 2019's win against Georgia — he gave the Gamecocks with the spark they needed to pull off the upset. 

“Winning big-time games here, and then just having teammates around me that push me every day," Mukuamu said. "That's what we had in [the] locker room, great group of guys that just, we push each other and we work hard.”

On the offensive side of the ball, lineman Sadarius Hutcherson and wide receiver Shi Smith also spoke to the media. 

Smith’s career as a Gamecock included 43 games in which he caught 174 passes for 2,204 yards and 13 touchdowns. 

Hutcherson had 39 starts for the Gamecocks including 36 consecutive games. Hutcherson is a versatile lineman who played in three different spots in his college career. Along with athletic ability, Hutcherson was named to the SEC honor roll twice in his career. 

When asked on the impact former Gamecock D.J. Wonnum had on him, Hutcherson said, “Me and [D.J.] were actually roommates.“

“D.J., he actually watched me grow. So I was like 240 [pounds] when I got here and literally like every day, when I started to gain weight he was like, ‘dang you getting big,’ all this and all this. So we started doing everything together,” Hutcherson said. “It felt like we grew up together. We still talk to each other to this day.”

According to Rivals, 13 total players will be attending Wednesday’s pro day. The list of other notable former Gamecock players include Tavien Feaster, Collin Hill and J.T. Ibe.