The Daily Gamecock

Looking back on student athlete career highlights as athletes prepare for the future

2021 will see many South Carolina student athletes face the possibility of turning pro or leaving their Gamecock uniform behind as they head out into the real world. Here's a brief overview of their careers at USC. 

Israel Mukuamu

Cornerback Israel Mukuamu shined during his time at South Carolina, especially during his sophomore year. He became a household name after the Gamecocks upset Georgia in 2019, and he totaled 86 tackles and seven interceptions in his three years as a Gamecock. 

"The thing about Izzy, he's going to work," former head football coach Will Muschamp said. "You're going to talk to him about the things he's got to do to improve himself, and he's going to go do them." 

Mukuamu is projected to be selected in the fourth round of the NFL draft.

Jaycee Horn

Cornerback Jaycee Horn had his break-out season during the 2020 campaign. He earned several awards including a second-team All-SEC (coaches), third-team All-SEC (Pro Football Focus) and Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week. 

This put Horn on the radar for many NFL teams, and he's projected to be a top-25 pick in the 2021 NFL draft. He ended his career as a Gamecock with 101 tackles, 23 pass breakups and two interceptions.

Shi Smith

Wide receiver Shi Smith was a consistent player for South Carolina in his senior year, averaging a team-leading 70.33 receiving yards per game in his last season. He will leave Carolina with 174 receptions, 2,204 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.

He was named a captain, was invited to the Reese’s Senior Bowl and is projected to be picked in the fifth round of the NFL draft, according to The Big Spur.

LeLe Grissett

The 6-foot-2 guard from Durham, North Carolina, impacted the women’s basketball team since her freshman year in 2017. Even though Grissett is not always in the starting lineup, she is a force to be reckoned with when she is on the court. 

"She doesn’t fight us anymore, she’s open. She’s texting me, ‘I want to get better at playing the guard position, so help me," head coach Dawn Staley said in an interview with The State. 

Grissett has a total of 635 career points, 63 blocks and 93 assists in her collegiate career. Due to the extra year of eligibility by the NCAA due to COVID-19, there is a chance that fans may see Grissett in a Gamecock jersey next season. 

Luciana Zullo

Luciana Zullo is a forward for the women's soccer team. Zullo is tied at No. 9 for NCAA Tournament points in a career with 4 points and tied in fifth place for goals in a career with two goals in an NCAA Tournament. She has been lighting it up on the field since her freshman year by scoring 13 points on five goals with three assists. 

Head coach Shelley Smith said Zullo brings "a great combination of pace, skill and toughness" when she is on the field, according to GamecocksOnline. As of April, she has a career total of 13 goals with 34 points and eight assists.

Mikayla Robinson

Mikayla Robinson, a middle blocker for the women's volleyball team, was a dominant force during her four years at South Carolina. She began making her mark during her freshman campaign with 121 blocks and 260 kills, making records for both. 

Robinson made the 2017 SEC All-Freshman Team; 2018, 2019 All-SEC Team and 2019 AVCA All-Region, Southeast. Her aggressiveness on both sides of the ball had a huge impact on the team with a career total of 983 kills and 81 blocks.

Kyla Manning

South Carolina volleyball's outside hitter, Kyla Manning, started her collegiate career at Coastal Carolina University and played every set since she got to USC in fall 2020.

In her very first game as a Gamecock, she led the team with 13 kills against Georgia. After only one season, she has 273 kills and six blocks. Despite Manning playing for a short time, she was a big reason why the South Carolina volleyball team was a success.