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South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel had 6 total touchdowns in just three games last season.

South Carolina WR tabbed as top 20 player in the country; favorite Gamecocks content from SEC Country

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

Top 20

South Carolina Gamecocks redshirt senior wide receiver Deebo Samuel is the No. 18 overall player in Sports Illustrated’s 2018 College Football Top 100.

“If he can recapture the form that made him one of the biggest stories in the SEC last September, Samuel should spend conference play grilling opposing defensive backs and coverage units,” SI’s Chris Johnson and Eric Single wrote. “An uptick in junior quarterback Jake Bentley’s accuracy — among qualifying passers, he finished seventh in the SEC in efficiency and tossed 12 interceptions last season — would further Samuel’s cause.”

Prior to suffering a season-ending injury in Week 3 against Kentucky, Samuel had 15 catches for 250 yards and 3 touchdowns, with 2 kickoff returns for touchdowns and 1 rushing score. He earned SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors in Weeks 1 and 2.

Before Columbia

Days before SEC Country shuts its doors, we’re looking back at some of our favorite South Carolina stories from the past two years.

In fall 2016, former SEC Country writer Mike Wilson profiled then-freshman quarterback Jake Bentley, taking a closer look at how Bentley’s adopted hometown of Opelika, Ala., shaped him.

“Opelika is home, the place where he became well-known around the city and earned a sterling reputation for his play on the field and his character away from it,” Wilson wrote. “It’s the place where that reputation should still be mounting and he should be playing.”

Bentley burst onto the scene halfway through South Carolina’s 2016 campaign, becoming the team’s starting quarterback and never looking back. His freshman year, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound quarterback went 4-3 as a starter, completing 65.8 percent of his passes for 1,420 yards, 9 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.

On the up and up

The Gamecocks haven’t had a defensive back picked in the NFL draft since 2013, but that could change soon, according to John Whittle of The Big Spur.

“While the program isn’t nearly the ‘DBU’ it once was, it’s trending in the right direction after going five years without a drafted player,” Whittle wrote. “That streak should come to an end with the 2019 NFL draft with perhaps three players taken. And if three defensive backs are taken this season, that will be the most in the program since 1972.”

The South Carolina secondary is led by seniors Rashad Fenton, Steven Montac and Keisean Nixon in 2018. The trio combined for 75 tackles, 6 interceptions and 10 passes defended last season.

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Coming soon?

Check out 4-star WR and 2019 target Keveon Mullins hanging out with 4-star QB and South Carolina commit Ryan Hilinski at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge on Wednesday.

The Gamecocks are among the finalists for Mullins. The Memphis, Tenn., native is rated as the No. 258 overall prospect for 2019, according to the 247Sports composite.

Making the cut

Three-star linebacker and 2019 prospect Jamie Pettway announced South Carolina as one of his  top 6 schools on Tuesday.

The 247Sports composite tabs Pettway as the No. 51 outside linebacker for 2019.

Dear Chris

South Carolina forward Chris Silva penned a letter to his 15-year-old self on Wednesday.

“Leaving Gabon was crazy hard, wasn’t it?” Silva wrote. “Especially when you glanced back over your shoulder one more time and saw everyone at the airport there to support you and give you one more look of encouragement and yell of good luck. Mom, Dad, your uncles, friends, everyone. But it’s happening man. You’re going to the United States to chase your dream.”

The All-SEC forward averaged 14.3 points, 8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game last season.

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