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South Carolina Gamecocks football 2014 roster preview: No. 20, T.J. Gurley

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Will talented junior get back to form after 2012 knee injury?

T.J. Gurley
5'10'' / 194 lbs
junior safety
Cairo, GA

Recruitment:
Gurley was a consensus three-star recruit and the nation's consensus 55th-best cornerback in the 2012 class.

Other offers:
Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Louisville, Mississippi State, Southern Miss, and Tennessee

College career:
T.J. Gurley impressed the coaches out of the gate in 2012, earning immediate playing time on special teams and as a backup safety. He earned his first start against Missouri that year, getting his chance due to D.J. Swearinger's suspension. Gurley held his own in this role, but he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Florida game.

After this injury, Gurley came into 2013 with questions regarding whether he could play as well as expected.  In the early games, he was a major contributor to the defense, notching 20 tackles in the first two games. However, he lost playing time as the year progressed, and those first two games would be the stastical highlight of a season in which he notched 30 total tackles.

2014 outlook:
Gurley remains behind established star Brison Williams, upcoming star Chaz Elder, and solid contributor JJ Marcus in the safety rotation. That said, his inability to retain a spot high on the depth chart last year owed to lingering issues with his 2012 knee injury, and now that he's more fully recovered from that injury, he may be ready to contribute on the level expected after his promising pre-injury 2012 campagin. In any event, he provides good depth.

Trivia:
The nickname of Gurley's high school's sports teams is the Syrupmakers. The moniker dates back to when a major cane-sugar syrup factory was located in Cairo. ESPN awarded Cairo High for best nickname in 1986.