In their franchise history, the Rams have drafted just three players out of South Carolina State: WR Darius McCarthy in 1975, DT Phillip Murphy in 1980 and TE Temmarick Hemingway in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Of course, there is one other former Ram who logged time at South Carolina State in his college career: Deacon Jones.
The Hall of Famer and eight-time Pro Bowler played one season for the Bulldogs before having his scholarship revoked for taking part in a civil rights protest.
As a hopeful roster selection and 2016 NFL Draft sixth-round pick, Hemingway may not be eyeing the lofty bar set by Jones, but at least there’s a shred of history lending a successful air to his candidacy to make the Rams’ roster in 2016.
The tight end position will look markedly different for the Rams in 2016. First, you’ve got the departure of former leading man Jared Cook. His absence opens up the door not only for longtime associate Lance Kendricks but also for an injection of new talent.
So if the fair assumption is that Kendricks and utility man Cory Harkey have the lead slots while Higbee is in line for the first reserve shot, that leaves Hemingway bumping up against Browne and Cunningham for a fourth potential slot. The Rams only kept three tight ends on last year’s initial 53-man, but the lack of experience behind Kendricks and Harkey may be reason to expand that by a slot.
This is a tough one to gauge.
Hemingway was drafted, so there’s at least some expectation of return on value. On the other hand, he’s a raw prospect out of South Carolina St. whose value likely comes at the longer end of the tail.
The question becomes how he shows out in training camp and the preseason. One big performance could elevate the level of expectations for him in 2016 perhaps an order of magnitude greater than any other rookie.
Chances of Making Final Roster: 5/10
Hemingway’s likely headed to the practice squad for 2016 to groom him for the future, but I’m pulling for him big time. He was easily one of the most likable prospects I met at the combine, so I’m pulling for him more on a personal level than a football one.
Still, there’s reason for optimism this early.
The question is if he’s ready to make the big jump from Orangeburg, South Carolina, to the pro-level in Los Angeles in 2016...