Former South Carolina linebacker’s best shot at the NFL may be at a different position

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The Gamecocks returned to the field (well, the practice field) on Tuesday for their annual showcase for NFL scouts.

Related: News, notes and observations from pro day

Hale McGranahan reported that evaluators from several NFL teams were in attendance, including blue bloods such as the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers.

In addition to departing players, underclassmen Zack Bailey, Hayden Hurst and Deebo Samuel all participated in the Gamecocks’ pro day — though only taking part in the measurables portion.

“I think it’s something that’s good that the NCAA and NFL came together, to get more information on draft-eligible guys, so they can make better decisions in December. … It’s good exposure for them,” South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said.

Among the graduating players, a slimmed-down Darius English looked to build off of his East-West Shrine Game performance, while former LB Jonathan Walton showcased his versatility.

FB/LB Jonathan Walton (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

While primarily working out as a linebacker, Walton also went through several fullback drills. You may remember back in 2015, the Daphne, Ala., native saw snaps at fullback against Tennessee, even catching a 10-yard touchdown pass.

Related: Jonathan Walton seeks to show versatility at South Carolina’s pro day 

With his size and speed, squint and you can see Walton making an NFL roster as a fullback a la former Penn State QB Michael Robinson.

Xavier Thomas incoming

The nation’s No. 2 overall prospect for 2018 will return to Columbia for the Gamecocks’ spring game on April 1 — and that ain’t no joke!

The Palmetto State native has narrowed down his recruitment to Clemson and Carolina. 

Thomas has called USC his “dream school” in recent interviews — but it remains to be seen if the Gamecocks can parlay that into a pledge. 

The latest on Dakereon Joyner

Dakereon Joyner-South Carolina Gamecocks-South Carolina
QB Dakereon Joyner is one of the Gamecocks’ top targets for the 2018 cycle.

Four-star QB Dakereon Joyner named South Carolina, N.C. State, Georgia, Alabama and Oregon as his top schools on Tuesday.

The Fort Dorchester (S.C.) product spoke highly of the Gamecocks in his latest breakdown …

“I got offered by South Carolina my eighth-grade year. I know that place in and out. It’s only like an hour away from my home,” Joyner said. “I watched practice for the first time, and it excited me. I got to sit in meetings with (quarterbacks) coach (Kurt) Roper and watched their QBs throw and learn about their depth at QB.”

Joyner is set to announce his choice on June 18.

Michael Scarnecchia, your No. 2 QB

With the departure of Brandon McIlwain, reserve QB Michael Scarnecchia was thrust into the No. 2 spot.

Scar, as I’ve decided to call him, finally spoke with reporters on Tuesday about his surprising promotion 

“I think getting more reps now than I have with Brandon gone, I think I’m going to be very comfortable and I am going to get there where I need to be,” Scarnecchia said. “That’s just going to come with preparation and mental preparation and film study that I need to do right.”

Coates out

Alaina Coates-South Carolina-South Carolina women's basketball
The loss of Alaina Coates cannot be overstated.

The Lady Gamecocks’ NCAA title hopes took a major blow on Tuesday, when it was revealed All-SEC forward Alaina Coates would miss the entire tournament with an ankle injury.

@RubrChickens and I share the same opinion on the star forward’s injury …

In case you missed it

Conway Gamecocks vs. the world

Earlier this week, I wrote about coach Dawn Staley’s gripe with the selection committee on sending the No. 1-seeded Gamecocks to other side of the country for their regional.

On Tuesday, the committee had a chance to respond. Spoiler alert: You (and Staley) are still going to be upset.

Via The Big Spur:

“In the bracketing process, we tried to take in the body of work and we looked at the best geographic proximity we can,” committee member Terry Gawlik said on ESPN. “We had the Lexington Region, and Notre Dame went to that region. We looked at the other regions that were available. They were going to fly to Oklahoma or out to Stockton and it made the most sense for the good of the game and the student athlete experience to have South Carolina go out to Stockton, and Baylor to Oklahoma City.”