Southern Hospitality

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Southern Hospitality
by Warren DeLuca

The Texans scored with their top pick in the 2004 draft when they selected South Carolina cornerback Dunta Robinson. Robinson started every game for the Texans and showed that he could cover (six interceptions and 19 passes defensed), hit (76 tackles and three forced fumbles) and even blitz (three sacks).

Maybe it’s that kind of production that has Charley Casserly looking to the South Carolina program again this year. Or maybe he’s just trying to suck up to Bob McNair by drafting players from the owner’s alma mater. Probably not. Regardless, rumor has it that the Texans are considering taking South Carolina receiver Troy Williamson with their first round pick. We asked Charlie Bennett of the Charleston Post and Courier for his thoughts on Williamson and the Gamecocks’ other pro prospects.

HPF: Troy Williamson obviously has speed since he averaged over 19 yards per reception at South Carolina, made several big plays (including a 99-yard touchdown in 2003), and blazed a 4.32-second 40-yard dash at the combine. What else does he bring to the table?

Bennett: Great hands, for one thing. He can catch. He also can take a hit.

HPF: Is he more than just a deep threat? In what areas does he need to improve?

Bennett: Like a lot of receivers coming out of run-oriented offenses, he needs to improve his route running.

HPF: How did he look against the better cornerbacks that he faced, such as Clemson’s Justin Miller?

Bennett: Hard to tell since South Carolina ran the ball two thirds of the time, and the Gamecocks’ quarterbacks weren’t exactly the most accurate passers in the country. Williamson did unbelievably well under the circumstances.

HPF: How ready is Williamson to contribute immediately in the NFL?

Bennett: I don’t think there’s any question he can contribute right away, but it’s probably going to take him a couple of years before he’s ready to put up All-Pro type numbers.

HPF: What kind of guy is Williamson in the locker room?

Bennett: I think he was generally very well-liked by his teammates, however he was a bit moody and rather guarded around the media. He was sensitive to what was written about him and went through periods where he wouldn’t talk. I would expect he’ll mature out of that pretty quickly in the NFL.

HPF: Were you surprised that he decided to come out instead of staying to play in Steve Spurrier’s pass-happy offense next year?

Bennett: Not given that he’s going to be a first-round pick, but it would have been truly interesting to see what kind of numbesr he would have put up under Spurrier.

HPF: DT Darrell Shropshire reportedly helped his stock with a strong showing in the East-West Shrine Game practices. What do you think of his potential as a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense?

Bennett: He’s a perfect fit at that position.

HPF: How well do you believe that DE George Gause, South Carolina’s sack leader in 2004, could make the transition from down lineman to 3-4 outside linebacker?

Bennett: That’s a little more iffy, but he’s definitely a talent.

HPF: MLB Marcus Lawrence also made some big plays for the Gamecocks. What are his strengths and weaknesses?

Bennett: He can run and certainly covers a lot of ground. Good instincts for the game. And he’s tough. He played with a lot of nagging injuries, but still got the job done. Being a bit injury prone might be a weakness.

HPF: Are there any other South Carolina players that you think could make it in the NFL? LB Rod Wilson, S Jamaica Jackson, or S Jermaine Harris?

Bennett: They could all wind up in somebody’s camp, but I would say all are long shots.

HPF: Have you heard any rumors regarding the Texans’ interest in any of USC’s players?

Bennett: No.

Charlie Bennett has covered University of South Carolina sports for the Charleston Post and Courier for the last six years. Before that, he covered LSU and later Tulane for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and also served as a general assignment writer. We thank him for time and insight. Troy Williamson Troy Williamson Home

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