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Q&A With Israel Mukuamu: NFL Draft Talk, What Separates Him From Other CBs

Israel Mukuamu celebrates on the field.

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 2: Defensive back Israel Mukuamu #24 of the South Carolina Gamecocks celebrates after an interception was confirmed during the third quarter of their game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 2, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)

Every year the NFL Draft contains a few prospects that jump off the screen due to their athletic gifts. South Carolina cornerback Israel Mukuamu fits that mold as a 6-foot-4 cornerback with a ton of versatility.

Mukuamu was dominant during his 2019 season at South Carolina, finishing with 59 total tackles, nine passes defended and four interceptions. An injury prevented him from putting up monster numbers in 2020, but he still had two interceptions in just five games.

Though there are plenty of talented cornerbacks available in the upcoming draft, Mukuamu's frame might just make him the most unique one from this year's class. The All-SEC cornerback simply possesses traits you can't teach.

We sat down with Mukuamu to discuss his preparation for the NFL Draft, relationship with former South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp, and much more.

The Spun: The NFL Draft is roughly two months away. How is this entire process been for you thus far and what’s your preparation been like?

Israel Mukuamu: It’s being going pretty well. Right now we work out twice a day. Usually in the morning we do footwork drills, getting faster. And then in the afternoon we weight lift, so getting my arms and legs stronger.

The Spun: You had an incredible 2019 season followed up by a groin injury in 2020. What do you think your 2019 tape showed scouts?

IM: I think the 2019 tape definitely speaks for itself, but I feel like with the 2020 tape a lot of people forgot about me. Everything happens for a reason, but I’m still the same prospect. I’m 6-foot-4 and I feel like there’s no one like me in the draft.

The Spun: What would you say is the one trait that separates you from other cornerbacks in this class?

IM: I feel like my height is the big trait, but not only that, I can line up right beside a 6-foot-2 corner and move just as well, if not better. I feel like that alone separates me because I’m bigger than him and can move just as good as him. And not only that, I’m versatile. I can play outside, I can play at safety, I can play nickel, I can guard wide receivers and guard tight ends. So I just feel like my whole game is different from everyone else in the draft.

The Spun: Who was the toughest WR you faced during your time in the SEC?

IM: I’d have to say Jerry Jeudy from Alabama.

The Spun: You’re a unique corner at 6-foot-4 with smooth movements. Is there a CB who you’ve studied over the past few years?

IM: Actually there are multiple guys. I like taking things from different corners in the game right now. One of our own, Stephon Gilmore, Jalen Ramsey because he’s big, and I like to watch Richard Sherman. Those are the three for me.

The Spun: Have you been able to chat with Stephon Gilmore and get any advice for the NFL?

IM: Not at the NFL in particular, but I have talked to him over the years while I was at South Carolina about football in general, what does he see on the field, technique and things of that nature.

The Spun: South Carolina made a coaching change mid-season. How was your relationship with Will Muschamp during your time with the Gamecocks?

IM: Me and Coach Muschamp have a great relationship. I love that guy. He’s a respectable guy and a hard worker. I just thank him for everything he did for me - just seeing me come to South Carolina as a young cat, recruiting me and giving me an opportunity.

The Spun: Did you guys bother him about joining Georgia’s staff?

IM: We just let that be (laughing).

The Spun: Have you been able to virtually meet with any teams yet, and if so, are there any you’d love from a schematic standpoint?

IM: I definitely got the chance to meet with a couple teams so far, and I feel like schematically I fit in any system because I’m so versatile and I can do so many things on the field.

The Spun: You and Jaycee Horn were a special duo at South Carolina. What should fans expect from both of you at the next level?

IM: I don’t want to speak for Jaycee, but just from knowing the type of guy he is, they can expect both of us to go into the NFL world working hard because that’s what we did at South Carolina. Our work speaks for itself, but I definitely know he’s the type of guy that’ll go in there and work hard, and so am I.

Similar to the phrase on his merchandise, Mukuamu is ready to do "Whatever It Takes" to show that he can be an elite cornerback in the NFL.

Mukuamu is currently projected to be a Day 2 selection in the upcoming draft. He'll get the chance to boost his stock even higher in the coming weeks.

You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.