Gilmore eager for homecoming with current Gamecocks

jkendall@thestate.comJune 7, 2014 

Stephon Gilmore signs Saturday for Tom Braun and grandson Connor Cross.

JOSH KENDALL — jkendall@thestate.com

Stephon Gilmore made a quick trip to Columbia this weekend. Later this summer, he plans to return and stay longer in order to introduce himself to a new group of South Carolina Gamecocks.

“I don’t know all the guys there now,” Gilmore said Saturday during a signing event at Garnet and Black Traditions in Cayce. “After mini-camp, I am going to try to come back and show my face around the locker room and get to know those guys. I might work out with them.”

Gilmore played for the Gamecocks from 2009 to 2011 and was the No. 10 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, joining the Buffalo Bills. Gilmore’s selection kicked off a three-year run in the NFL Draft in which 15 South Carolina players have been picked. Jadeveon Clowney, a Rock Hill native like Gilmore, was the No. 1 overall selection earlier this year.

“I was on a plane, and I bought the Internet just so I could watch (Clowney be selected),” Gilmore said. “I was very proud. I felt like I got drafted again.”

Hundreds of fans showed up Saturday to meet Gilmore and have him sign Gamecock and Bills merchandise during a three-hour event. He will return to Buffalo on Sunday for the final week of the team’s organized team workouts (OTAs).

Gilmore has high expectations for the Bills, and himself, this season.

“My game has gotten a lot better. I feel better. My technique feels better, and the game has slowed down,” he said. “It’s kind of like when you first start off in college. By the time you leave, the game has slowed down a lot more. It’s the same thing. You see more things and make more plays.”

Buffalo has finished 6-10 in each of Gilmore’s two professional seasons, but he is predicting an improvement this year.

“We have the most talent on our team of any team in the league,” he said. “If you really break our team down as far as different positions, I think so. We just have to win games.”

The Bills selected Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins with the No. 4 overall pick this year, which has given Gilmore and Watkins a chance to get to know each other.

“When he got there, we hit it off pretty well,” Gilmore said. “He’s a great guy.”

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