Notebook: NFL keeping Gilmore, Ingram busy

Spurrier hopeful Jeffery will be drafted in first round

jkendall@thestate.comApril 25, 2012 

— Stephon Gilmore hasn’t thought once about the moment Thursday night when he is selected to be an NFL football player, he said.

Melvin Ingram can’t believe that’s true. Ingram has thought about it “every second of the day,” he said.

The two former South Carolina teammates are expected Thursday night to become just the second pair of Gamecocks selected in the first round of the same NFL Draft. The first round begins at 8 p.m. in Radio City Music Hall.

“It’s something you can’t not think about every second of the day,” Ingram said. “Of course, everybody thinks about that, but you really don’t know, you just have to see on draft day.”

Both players agonized over their suit selection for the event, they said.

“I tried it out last night, and I liked it a lot,” Gilmore said Wednesday. “I don’t think (the moment) has hit me. I don’t think it’ll hit me until (NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell) calls my name and I actually walk on the stage.”

BUSY SCHEDULE

Ingram and Gilmore, and the 24 other hopefuls here to attend the draft, participated Wednesday morning in an NFL Play 60 event in which they played flag football with area youth at Chelsea Waterside Park. Goodell was part of the event, and former San Francisco head coach Steve Mariucci addressed the players, telling them to take advantage of their opportunity.

Later in the day, the players visited the site of the draft, Radio City Music Hall, for a dress rehearsal and a photo opportunity on top of the famous Radio City Music Hall marquee.

“They keep us busy all day,” Ingram said.

Prior to Thursday’s draft, Ingram and Gilmore will visit the Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mt. Sinai Medical Center

ALSHON IN?

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is hopeful wide receiver Alshon Jeffery will defy analyst projections and be picked late in the first round, he said. In fact, Spurrier is hoping to call his shot.

“I am picking the Houston Texans are going to take him,” Spurrier said. “I’m taking a wild guess, Bob McNair, South Carolina graduate.”

The Texans have the 26th pick of the draft but are expected to take an offensive lineman with the pick. Spurrier recently watched a highlight reel of all his team’s 2011 touchdown passes (eight of which featured Jeffery) and was reminded of Jeffery’s knack for big plays.

“Man some of those catches he made were…” Spurrier said. “They were just jump balls, just don’t throw it out of the ball park and give him a chance. When he gets his hands on it, it sticks. I mean, it sticks.”

Jeffery has dropped almost 30 pounds after playing his junior season at close to 240.

“He would have some plays where he would jog and this, that and the other,” Spurrier said, “but overall he was really good for us. He helped win a bunch of games for us.”

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