COLUMBIA - Connor Shaw flung the pass high in the air, Bruce Ellington settled under it, and suddenly South Carolina's Pro Day had turned into a nostalgic reunion.
They were kids playing catch in their backyard. Only, their backyard was Williams-Brice Stadium, and they had plenty of company. The former Gamecocks quarterback and receiver got one last chance to connect inside their home stadium Wednesday during pro timing day, showcasing their skills to NFL scouts.
"It's absolutely bittersweet," Shaw said. "This is my home, never lost here. I can always say coming back here, I'll always have great memories. It's pretty special to end on a note like this today."
For both, the work is far from complete. There are less than five weeks until the NFL draft. Both are expected to be drafted. Both have busy schedules in the weeks ahead.
"It is the world's longest job interview," Shaw said.
Ellington, a Moncks Corner native, is considered the better pro prospect, according to NFL scouts. He declined to talk with the media Wednesday, but his workout impressed ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay.
Behind Jadeveon Clowney, the top prospect in the draft, McShay said former defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles and Ellington could be taken in the third round. McShay said he's especially impressed with Ellington's game film.
"I think he's only going to get better," McShay said. "He's got the basketball background. I think he's just kind of scratching the surface as a football player. Good hands and explodes out of cuts. I think he's got a chance to be a good player at the next level. I thought he got better as the season progressed. You see in the bowl game, he finished strong."
Ellington caught six passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns in South Carolina's win against Wisconsin at the Capital One Bowl in January. Shaw took game MVP honors, contributing to all five of the Gamecocks' touchdowns in the 34-24 victory.
Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was in attendance for Shaw's workout Wednesday. The six-time Pro Bowler covered Pro Day as an analyst for Fox Sports 1, part of the national attention given to Clowney, but he shared praise for the Gamecocks' all-time winningest quarterback.
"I think he'll get a good chance to compete and show the coaches that he has the ability and the talent to adjust to their type of offense," McNabb said. "Here's a guy who, over his career, he's adjusted in so many ways, progressed each and every year, and that says a lot. So I think Connor Shaw will have an opportunity to compete to possibly be a No. 2 or 3 (quarterback on the depth chart), and then we'll see what happens years from now."
Shaw said his April is "slammed" with visits to various NFL teams, though he wouldn't disclose which teams he'll meet. Over the next five weeks, he'll try to capitalize on his opportunities.
"I'm excited for it," Shaw said. "I'm taking advantage of the stage I've been given, and I'm excited for the future."
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