PRACTICE NOTEBOOK -- Former South Carolina wide receiver Tori Gurley left the Gamecocks with two years of eligibility remaining and then went undrafted in April, prompting some to question why he left USC in the first place. Gurley, though, appears to be having the last laugh.
Notes: Late father, Norris Gurley, was a power forward at Virginia Tech who played with 16-year NBA veteran Dell Curry, Tori's godfather. Changed his last name from Childers to Gurley to honor his father, who died in a car accident on Mother's Day 2008. Tori was an All-South Carolina performer in football and basketball, winning state titles in both sports. Graduated in '06 and committed to North Carolina with the opportunity to play both sports but failed to qualify academically. With a grandmother suffering from diabetes, he moved to Alabama to help take care of her and worked two jobs for a year. After impressing in a basketball camp against UNC players, drew an offer from New Hampton School, a prep school in New Hampshire, where he caught 40 passes for 700 yards (17.5-yard average) and 12 touchdowns and averaged 10 points and eight rebounds on the hardwood in '07. With a new staff at UNC, committed to the Gamecocks but was not cleared academically until the eve of the '08 season. After redshirting, started 5-of-13 games outside in '09 and posted 31-440-2 (14.2). Was moved inside in '10 in an effort to get him and Alshon Jeffery on the field at the same time - started all 14 games, catching 44-465-4 (10.6). Was a 23-year-old sophomore.
Positives: Excellent size with rare arm length - presents a big target. Works to get open and makes himself available to the quarterback. Plays with confidence. Tracks the ball over his shoulder. Reliable hands - did not drop a pass as a junior. Showed surprisingly well in the gauntlet drill at the Combine, never weaving and catching all but one ball in two trials.
Negatives: Has some stiffness in his body. Lacks speed to separate vertically. Long strider with build-up speed. Not a great route runner. Double-catches and lets throws into his body. Not agile or elusive. Could struggle against man coverage. Limited athlete. Has a 33½-inch vertical jump. Inconsistent blocker. Average production.
Summary: A rangy, big-framed possession receiver with a basketball background, Gurley opted to forgo two years of eligibility when facing the prospect of returning as a 24-year-old junior as the No. 2 receiver in a run-oriented offense. Is not a playmaker and lacks exceptional athletic traits. Size is his best asset.