MOBILE, Ala. — Clemson won the national championship, but South Carolina receiver Deebo Samuel indicated Georgia might have been a better team.
“Georgia was the toughest competition this year,” Samuel said at the Senior Bowl Media Day at the Mobile convention center.
Georgia beat the Gamecocks by a 41-17 count, while Clemson beat South Carolina 56-35.
Samuel has already caught the eyes of NFL scouts this week at the Senior Bowl, producing first-day highlights leading up to the 2:30 p.m. all-star game on Saturday (TV: NFL Network).
Georgia coach Kirby Smart saw it coming, saying earlier this year that Samuel was “probably the most underrate player in all of college football …. the guy is phenomenal.”
Samuel went on to back that up, leading the Gamecocks in receiving with 882 yards and finishing second in the SEC with 1,478 all-purpose yards.
Georgia fans, however, know Samuel best for pregame comments this season, when he claimed not to know much about Bulldogs’ Thorpe Award winner and projected first-round NFL draft pick Deandre Baker.
“Who?” Samuel said, asked about Baker last September. “I really haven’t watch much of him.”
— Bryce Dixon (@dixonbryce) September 5, 2018
Samuel saw plenty of Baker and the Georgia defense when the teams met in Columbia, S.C., however.
South Carolina targeted Samuel 12 times, but with Baker shadowing him, the Gamecocks star managed just six catches for 33 yards — none longer than 10 yards.
Samuel was asked by DawgNation at the Senior Bowl about his gamesmanship before the Georgia game, and he shared his thoughts on the rivalry.
“Our rivalry in the SEC is Georgia, so you get fired up about the game, it’s just more oomph to that game than any other game,” Samuel said. “We actually started off slow in the game. They played trail two man, so you’re bracketed on the outside and inside, and it’s really hard to get open.
“I didn’t know him personally.”
Indeed, South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley attempted five passes to Samuel in the first quarter of Georgia’s 41-17 win that fell incomplete.
Baker missed the chance to compete head-t0-head with Samuel at the Senior Bowl this week, declining his invitation after also skipping the Sugar Bowl.
Deebo Samuel Senior Bowl highlights
Deebo vs Rock Ya Sin. Oh man. Deebo is a baller pic.twitter.com/TYaFnajHg4
— Billy Marshall (@BillyM_91) January 22, 2019
Deebo Samuel’s foot speed is disgusting… pic.twitter.com/6dYpe7BSXt
— Jake (@SeedsofJake) January 22, 2019
South Carolina star Deebo Samuel