Pro Day notebook - Part II

15 former Gamecock players took part in Wednesday's Pro Day for South Carolina. Following the skills, several players spoke about their experience. In part II of the series, Stephen Garcia, Kyle Nunn, Rokevious Watkins, Terrence Campbell, and Melvin Ingram discuss their travels since their final game at Carolina and their experience at Pro Day.

For one day former South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia was back inside Williams-Brice Stadium throwing passes to his former teammates. It was the same stadium where he helped lead the Gamecocks to its biggest win in school history over then- No. 1 Alabama, and where he led the team to a 34-17 rout of Clemson that started the recent dominance of the Tigers.

"The support here has been awesome, everyone cheering," Garcia said. "Just seeing the old guys was a pretty unbelievable feeling."

It was also the place where he lost his job as the starting quarterback after a 9-of-23 performance with two interceptions in a 16-13 loss to Auburn last season. After watching Connor Shaw slice the Kentucky defense up the following week, Garcia was released from the team two days later. It was the final straw in a career filled with mistakes and suspensions.

"That was pretty rough," Garcia said of his meeting with athletic director Eric Hyman. "I kind of blacked out at the end because I just didn't want to hear anything or see anybody. I called my parents and told them what happened and they came and helped me move out. I try not to think about that."

Wednesday wasn't just about his return to Carolina for Garcia. It was about rebounding from his final performance in Williams-Brice. It was all business.

"This is a job, this is my future and stuff," Garcia said. "I wish I would have realized that when I was in school but it just took me a little longer."

After leaving Columbia, Garcia went home to Tampa and put on weight, 245 pounds to be exact. When Garcia weighed in Wednesday morning, he weighed 218 pounds, 27 pounds lighter.

"I wanted to show (scouts) I wasn't wasting my time up there and was going to go through this half-heartedly," Garcia said. "I just wanted to show them I was working hard and want to get a shot."

Though Garcia was not there for the ride to a school-record 11 wins last season, he was watching and cheering for his former teammates.

"Every time I think about it it's upsetting that it happened, but I still cheer for these guys all the time and talk to them all the time," Garcia said. "They're going to do great next year and Connor is going to do great. I'm proud of the team, but it still was rough."

The Auburn game was not the last game Garcia has played in. Garcia participated in the Battle of Florida All-Star game in January, where he completed 3-of-8 passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns. In the meetings with scouts since, Garcia has not been asked a lot of football questions. He's been asked about his off-field troubles.

"I've talked to probably 30 of them at that bowl game in Florida and today and they ask me what's happened in the past and if I'm clear-minded and ready," Garcia said. "I just have to be truthful with them."

Garcia has been able to talk his way through the problems in college. That won't work at the next level. With teams paying athletes thousands of dollars or more, words aren't enough. They want proof.

"I have to show them," Garcia said. "Talking really doesn't do anything as we've seen in the past so I just have to prove it to them. I want everybody – especially the scouts – to know that's not who I was. I was just a college kid trying to do what everybody does in college. Obviously I learned that I can't do that being at the quarterback position at an SEC school and it took me too long to figure it out. That's what I regret the most."

If the NFL doesn't work out for Garcia and Wednesday was the final time Garcia played football, it has certainly been an interesting journey. If Wednesday was the last time Garcia threw a football inside Williams-Brice Stadium, he went out giving it his all.

"If nothing else I got to see these guys again and say goodbye to a bunch of teachers and people I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to back in October," Garcia said.

Garcia stats

Height – 6'2 1/8
Weight – 218
Vertical – 31 inches
Broad jump – 9-2
Bench – Did not participate

Kyle Nunn

If Garcia's story wasn't about overcoming adversity, Kyle Nunn's story definitely is. After missing most of his final season with a back injury and blood clot in his knee, Nunn did the unthinkable. After finding out that he was not likely to get an extra year of eligibility on a medical hardship, Nunn decided he was going to try and play in the Capital One Bowl against Nebraska in January. Knowing that it was his final opportunity to show scouts what he was capable of.

After a solid performance in the bowl game, Nunn turned his attention to the NFL and Wednesday's Pro Day. Even after it was all said and done, the pressure of moment and the weeks of preparation leading to the day was tough to handle.

"I'm done with my drills but I'm still a little shaky because I've been waiting for this day my whole life," Nunn said. "That's the hardest thing to prepare for because I don't know how to simulate scouts being out here or it being the biggest day of your life. That's the only thing I would have changed in my training process is if there was a way to simulate the actual day."

Nunn projects to be a late-round or free agency pick-up, but all that matters is getting that opportunity to prove to one team that he has what it takes.

"It all depends on who thinks well of me and wants to take a chance with me," Nunn said. "I just want to get my foot in the door and get to training camp and show them what I can do."

Nunn stats

Height – 6'5 3/8
Weight – 294
Vertical – 25
Broad jump – 8-6
Bench – Did not participate

Rokevious Watkins

Rok Watkins is a versatile player that could play either guard or tackle and did both in his three seasons in Columbia. It is that versatility that has Watkins in draft contention and could be a solid late-round draft choice.

"I don't really pay attention to it," Watkins said. "The tape doesn't lie; game film is already in place. However it comes I'm going to be happy just to get a foot in the door. As long as I get in the door I'm going to try as hard as I can to stay."

Watkins was up to 340 prior to his senior season, but scouts wanted him to get it down. Wednesday he weighed in at 327.9.

"I was at 345 but I got it worked down to where I needed to," Watkins said.

Watkins has taken snaps at guard, tackle, and even center, but it is guard where he is getting the most attention from scouts

"They pretty much like everything from my physicality to being able to move for my size," Watkins said. "The main thing they wanted me to do was drop weight and I feel like I proved that today when I was down 11 pounds less than I weighed at the combines. For me to come in 11 pounds down from the combine less than four weeks is a good feeling."

Watkins stats

Height – 6'3 5/8
Weight – 328
Vertical – 26 1/2
Broad jump – Did not participate (102 inches in combine)
Bench – 19 reps

Terrence Campbell

Campbell was the third of the Gamecock senior linemen to participate in Wednesday's Pro Day. Campbell has been recovering from an injury suffered while at Carolina, but has felt 100% the last few weeks.

"The middle of February I began to feel 100%," Campbell said. "The beginning of February I began doing drills and felt 100% in the middle of February and I've been rolling ever since."

Like Nunn and Watkins, Campbell could go anywhere from a late pick to not even being drafted and take the free agent route.

"My agent talked to me and told me to be expecting from the fifth to the seventh round and if not I'd definitely get picked up in free agency," Campbell said. "It's a great opportunity no matter where I go or when I go I'm going to be blessed and make the most out of my situation."

After previous discussions from scouts, Campbell had several things he needed to improve on and also had several personal goals that he achieved.

"They wanted to see if I could move laterally and see if I could move well and what I'm weighing," Campbell said. "I think I showed up really good. I wanted to be 305 and I weighed 304. I was just off by a little bit. On bench (press) I wanted to do 35 and I did 34. So I think I did great."

Campbell stats

Height – 6'2 5/8
Weight – 304
Vertical – 29
Broad jump – 8-9 1/2
Bench – 34

Melvin Ingram

To say that anyone helped his draft status through his senior season, it was Melvin Ingram. Ingram was the only defensive lineman in the country to score three touchdowns, including a 68-yard touchdown run on a fake punt against Georgia. Ingram led the Gamecocks and one was one of the top in the country with 10 sacks, intercepted two passes, and recovered a fumble. Despite his superb senior season, Ingram still felt he had something to prove.

"I was coming out here and just trying to erase all the doubt," Ingram said. "Anybody that had any doubt that I couldn't something I just came out here and prove that I could."

A lot of what Ingram accomplished was based on talent and being in the right position at the right time, but there was more to it than that.

"I feel like I improved any every aspect, but first of all I improved my relationship with God and knowing that he makes everything possible, and I improved within myself," Ingram said. "I felt faster, stronger and more mature. I became a student of the game and I feel that once you become a student of the game it comes easier to you. I just try and study film all the time and work hard."

Ingram's season came with many awards and accolades, including an appearance on ESPN's Sports Science. Ingram was brought into the Sports Science lab to see if he could get to a quarterback before a pass is released in a three-step drop, approximately three seconds. Ingram had to use a swim move to get around a tackling dummy, spin around a second tackling dummy, and level the quarterback. Ingram is capable of hitting players with 2,500 pounds of force and got to the quarterback in 2.8 seconds.

To further show his freakish ability, Ingram demonstrated his ability to cut with the ball. Ingram was able to make his cuts in 0.3 seconds, on par with NFL running back Legarrette Blount.

"They came to me about it," Ingram said. "I guess Sports Science and those guys came to my agent and I like competing so it was a great experience."

Despite the successful season and appearance on Sports Science, there were still things that scouts wanted to see Ingram do better.

"They wanted to see me drop a little more; they wanted to see me change direction and flip my hips and stuff like that," Ingram said. "I just wanted to come out here and try and do that."

Ingram is one of the athletes that has been invited to New York for the 2012 NFL Draft and will get to walk up on stage when his name is called. It's something Ingram has dreamed of all his life.

"I envisioned this as a kid," Ingram said. "When you play football and you and you try and do things like this, it doesn't just happen when you come to college. I feel like it's born within you and you can't make this."

If Ingram's name is not called on the first day and he is one left sitting in the Green Room – an embarrassing place for many players – Ingram isn't bothered by it.

"If that happened to me I'd still be happy because it's a wonderful feeling having an opportunity to be there," Ingram said.

Ingram stats

Height – 6'1 1/2
Weight – 265
Vertical – Did not participate (34.5 at combines)
Broad jump – Did not participate (109 inches at combines)
Bench – Did not participate (28 reps at combines)

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