COLUMBIA -- South Carolina could have used Kenny Davis a year ago. Now, with defensive tackle as thin as it is, the Gamecocks need the redshirt sophomore.

"They've already told me it's my time to shine," Davis said, referring to his coaches. "I've gotten a lot older. I've got to give back to the university that's put me here."

Those same coaches weren't altogether pleased last season with Davis. They believed he was capable of more than he showed. Davis, who was even suspended for the opener at North Carolina State because of a missed curfew, didn't display the work ethic of an SEC lineman, they said.

Defensive line coach Brad Lawing calls it "high school heritage," in which a player presumes he'll be successful in college because he was in high school.

Davis believes he's past that now.

"I think I finally have gotten it," Davis said. "I go out there now and give it my all. That's what they've been trying to get out of me."

Davis has been slowed the past week by a shoulder ailment, but he's expected back next week -- in plenty of time to participate in the spring game.

Davis said there's a conscious sort of click that has to take place before you're ready to play college ball.

"After a little while, I'm not playing and I'm wondering why," Davis said. "Then it all comes together. You realize if you're not working hard, you're not going to play."

Taking a step

Lawing thinks redshirt sophomore Devin Taylor has taken a step toward maturation.

"Until you start shaving, your stuff hasn't kicked in," Lawing said. "He's just kicked in."

The 6-8, 250-pound Taylor played in 12 games last season, starting five, as a redshirt freshman. He recorded 28 tackles, including two sacks and 5 1/2 tackles for a loss.

Brown's Pro Day

The book on former receiver Moe Brown was mostly positive until a poor bowl game showing and then an after-the-fact arrest report came out in January.

Brown worried briefly what pro scouts would think, but he's calmed his nerves since then.

He worked out for scouts Wednesday at the school's Pro Day, performing well in the route-running drills.

"The knee-jerk reaction was that it hurt me," he said. "It was like a, 'Oh, man. Seriously?' kind of thing. But then all the scouts knew I was a good-character guy, a lot of people vouched for me, so it doesn't hurt me at all."

-- Travis Haney