South Carolina fans will remember a lot about Stephon Gilmore. It started with his high school days at South Pointe High School in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where he was a Parade All-American and led his school to a state championship as a senior and was also South Carolina's Mr. Football in 2008.
He played quarterback at South Pointe, but was one of the top-rated athletes in the country coming out of high school. Gilmore came to South Carolina and immediately stepped into the starting lineup as a cornerback and started every game.
As a freshman, Gilmore racked up 56 tackles, three sacks, one interception and eight pass breakups on his way to being named a Freshman All-American. Gamecock fans will have no trouble remembering the game against Clemson that year. Gilmore came in as a wildcat quarterback and had 20 yards rushing and a 39-yard pass completion to Alshon Jeffery in leading the Gamecocks to a touchdown in his only series.
The Rock Hill native had similar success his next two years at South Carolina. He was a third-team All-American as a sophomore and led the Gamecocks with 79 tackles and also had three interceptions, one of which he returned 80 yards the other way for a score against Furman.
As a junior, Gilmore had 46 tackles and a career-high four interceptions to go with a team-high 11 pass deflections.
A big presence at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Hampton was selected 10th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills.
Just like he did at South Carolina, Gilmore started every game his rookie season with the Bills. He made the most of the playing time, recording 61 tackles and deflecting 16 passes to go with an interception. Gilmore played in 25 games over his next two seasons and improved every year, particularly in the interception department. Last year, Gilmore picked off three passes and averaged over 20 yards per return on those takeways.
Now about to enter his fourth year, Gilmore will be playing under a new head coach in Rex Ryan. The former New York Jets head coach is known as one of the best defensive minds in the game and Gilmore is looking forward to playing for him.
"Rex Ryan, his name speaks for itself," Gilmore said. "He's a great players coach so I'm looking forward to it."
Gilmore will also have some notable new teammates, particularly on offense. Former Philadelphia Eagle tailback Lesean McCoy is now a Bill as well as versatile receiver Percy Harvin, a former Florida Gator star.
All-in-all, Gilmore is excited to try and help his team make the playoffs for the first time since Gilmore has been in Buffalo. If his first three years in the league are any indication, Gilmore is on his way to becoming a star in professional football.
"I'm definitely looking forward to it," Gilmore said. "We have Rex Ryan, we have a good defense and we have some more playmakers on offense, so it's going to be pretty good."
**Story by Kyle Heck/Photo courtesy of South Carolina Athletics Media Relations**