This was supposed to be Chaz Suttons year.
With Jadeveon Clowney scaring every opponent in his direction, Sutton, South Carolinas only senior defensive line starter, was expected to complete a steady climb to, if not stardom then at least statistical fame.
Instead, Sutton goes into the final game of his college career hoping for a sendoff that will help him, fans and NFL scouts think less about his 12 regular season games.
Obviously, the numbers arent there the way he wanted and the way we wanted as a team and a staff, but I think hes done a good job, defensive line coach Deke Adams said. Hes played hard, and hes done what weve asked him to do.
Sutton had 29 tackles, including 7.5 for loss, and two sacks during the regular season. The 6-foot-5, 263-pound defensive end had five sacks last season.
I could have done some things better. I think I left a lot of plays out on the field this year that I wish I could have made, Sutton said. There are no do-overs now. I am just moving forward and looking forward to the bowl game so, hopefully, I can go out and have an excellent game.
Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward described Suttons year as solid.
I think hes played better down the stretch than he played earlier in the season, Ward said. He played real good against Clemson, and I expect him to have a big ball game coming up.
Sutton, who has played on a sprained foot most of the season, was second on the team with four quarterback hurries and led the Gamecocks with two forced fumbles. The Savannah, Ga., native was a four-star recruit who spent one season at Fork Union Military Academy before joining the Gamecocks.
Chaz plays hard, Adams said. He does everything weve asked him to do, and it just hasnt happened as much as we wanted it to. He has played his behind off.
That will be evident to pro scouts when they watch film of Sutton from this season, Adams believes.
I think those guys are going to look on film and see the potential of what he can do, Adams said. Obviously, with any of these guys here, what they do after the bowl will help all of them, but Chaz is going to be fine.
Still, Sutton would like to play well against No. 19 Wisconsin so those scouts dont have to look quite so long and hard to see his ability.
People are always going to have questions about you whether you do good or you do bad, Sutton said. You always have something to prove to somebody.