BY AARON BRENNER
INDIANAPOLIS – When any Missouri product takes a seat in the media room at the NFL Scouting Combine, they know they’re going to get the Michael Sam questions, and by this point, they’ve fervently got their guy’s back.
“The guy can play. SEC Defensive Player of the Year, up for the Nagurski Award,” Mizzou receiver L’Damian Washington said. “I mean, that doesn’t happen by mistake.”
After Sam announced Feb. 9 that he was gay, reports surfaced the NFL might not be ready to embrace such a player in the 32 locker rooms, despite Missouri going 12-2 last fall while the Tigers knew the entire time of Sam’s situation.
“Some of the guys were like, yeah, most of those guys already knew him and it wasn’t a big deal. But we had freshmen on the team that were 17 years old out of high school,” Washington said. “You’re pretty immature, just to be like, aw, snap, we got a gay guy on our team. Those guys embraced him because he was a great teammate, he was a great guy. He never brought any of that to the locker room.
“I feel like if a 17-year-old freshman can accept the fact that a teammate has a different preference of sex, why can’t 33-year-old vets accept the fact? I don’t understand that.”
BY AARON BRENNER
INDIANAPOLIS — The start of Tyshon Dye’s anticipated Clemson career will have to wait longer.
Dye tore his Achilles tendon during a Tigers’ All In winter workout session (also known as ‘mat drills’) Friday morning, the school announced this afternoon.
Dye redshirted the 2013 season while in recovery from back and ankle surgeries. Expected return time from a torn Achilles can range to an ACL tear – about six months if all goes well. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said in the statement he hopes to get Dye (Elberton, Ga.) back for the 2014 season, which opens Aug. 30 at Georgia.
Dye was among ESPN.com’s top 125 recruits in the class of 2013. He and Wayne Gallman redshirted 2013, and are among the group of tailbacks hoping to replace graduated senior Roderick McDowell.
BY AARON BRENNER
INDIANAPOLIS — It’s cold, it’s blustery, it’s winter. But that’s all outside, and the interior of Lucas Oil Stadium is a tad more cozy.
In fact, the heat is on for more than 300 NFL Draft hopefuls at this weekend’s Scouting Combine, and that includes eleven in-state college products – five a piece from Clemson and South Carolina, plus Furman OL Dakota Dozier.
So far, we the assembled Fourth Estate haven’t met with any Tigers or Gamecocks, though I was able to catch up with Brandon Thomas on Monday. His story is here; primarily, the story of whether he’ll play tackle or guard in the National Football League.
Thomas did measure in at 6-foot-3 and 317 pounds – nearly his exact specifications as listed in Clemson’s bowl guide, just two pounds heavier. His arms were measured at 34 3/4 inches and hands at 10.5 inches, not bad figures for a lineman known more for his footwork and technique than his raw strength.
Check in on our LIVE BLOG all day from the NFL Scouting Combine
We also have heard on measurements for a few Clemson and South Carolina wide receivers today. Trickling in this morning include:
CLEMSON – So I scored my invite to the NFL Scouting Combine. Even though I project as an unlikely late-round selection and am guaranteed not to run a 4.5 40-yard-dash.
But if I were busy running like the wind on the turf, I wouldn’t have any time to cover the crap out of your ten in-state college products and NFL Draft hopefuls – five from Clemson, five from South Carolina – over the next four to six days from Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis.
Be sure to stick with me on the blog, on PostandCourier.com, and on my Twitter account through the next week for all the latest news, notes and updates from the Combine.
Of course, our top priority are those ten guys, but I’ll also pass along stuff from Michael Sam, Johnny Manziel and other players in addition to agents, scouts, coaches and general managers. Should be a fun time.
For now, here’s a story on Tony Villani, the 1996 Clemson grad who runs XPE Sports in south Florida where he’s training Tajh Boyd, Martavis Bryant and Bashaud Breeland. Later today, I’ll have an article on Sammy Watkins playing nice with a few of the Gamecocks during training in Tampa.
And we’ll go from there. Pray for on-time departures and arrivals.
BY AARON BRENNER
CLEMSON — Weather canceled Tajh Boyd’s travel plans Thursday. But he’ll make it back to the Upstate for the main event.
The former Clemson quarterback previously committed, along with former South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw, to serve as honorary captains for tonight’s College All-Star Bowl at Furman University in Greenville. Neither will play, but they would administer the coin toss and be on hand for the 6 p.m. game featuring a few of Boyd’s Clemson teammates.
Boyd has been training in Boca Raton, Fla. in preparation for the NFL Scouting Combine, Clemson’s Pro Day and the 2014 NFL Draft. According to one of Boyd’s agents, Boyd will be able to catch a 2 p.m. flight into Greenville, and is expected to make the game on time.
Boyd’s autograph session with fans at a Travelers Rest, S.C. Wal-Mart in conjunction with Shaw was canceled. Boyd will jet back to south Florida Saturday morning, his agent said.
Boyd is captaining the Nationals Roster, coached by former Clemson coach Danny Ford, but not playing in the game. However, suiting up are ex-Tigers running back Roderick McDowell, linebackers Spencer Shuey and Quandon Christian, and long snapper Philip Fajgenbaum.
The College All-Star Bowl starts tonight at 6 p.m. and will be televised live by CBS Sports Network.