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Denson chasing his dream

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

All he wants is an opportunity.

For the past five seasons, LaGrange High graduate Mon Denson has been a member of the University of South Carolina football team, and while he was never a starter, he had a productive college career.

Now, with his college days behind him and a diploma in hand, Denson is ready to pursue his dream of being a professional football player.

Denson hopes to hear his name called during the NFL draft that begins on Thursday, and if that doesn’t work out, he’ll try to land with a team as an undrafted free agent.

“I’m very excited right now,” Denson said on Wednesday. “I’ve been playing football since I was around 8-years-old, and my dream was to make it into the NFL. Whether it’s by

being drafted or getting into it as a free agent, I’m just looking forward to the opportunity, and being able to showcase my skills to the NFL teams, to show them what I’ve got.”

After a phenomenal senior season at LaGrange where he ran for nearly 1,300 yards, Denson was red-shirted as a freshman in 2015, and he didn’t get any playing time in 2016.

Denson’s opportunity finally came in 2017, and he played in all 13 games and ran for 152 yards with a pair of touchdowns.

Denson’s most productive season came in 2018 when he had 432 rushing yards and averaged five yards per carry, and he had two 100-yard games.

Denson missed some time with an injury last season, but he was effective when he was on the field with 232 yards on 39 carries with three touchdowns.

For his career, Denson had 816 yards on 166 attempts (an average of nearly five yards a carry), and he scored seven touchdowns.

Although someone else was always the featured back in South Carolina’s offense, head coach Will Muschamp knew Denson would always be ready.

“He saw me as a guy, whenever my number was called, I’d go in there and produce no matter what it is, whether was it was on special teams or running back,” Denson said. “Whatever they asked me to do, I was willing to do it.”

While Denson succeeded on the field, he also got the job done in the class room and earned his undergraduate degree last spring.

“Outside of football, that’s one of my most prized moments is graduating,” Denson said. “I’m the first one to go to college from my family, so I’m really proud of that. That was the biggest thing was I was always taught to keep those grades first.”

Denson was hoping to bolster his hopes of being drafted with a strong showing at South Carolina’s pro day, but that event was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Denson had been training hard in preparation for the pro day  at South Carolina, only to find out a few days beforehand that it wouldn’t be held.

“That week we were doing a lot of fine-tuning. I was real amped up for that,” Denson said. “We were making sure everything was going to be perfect. And then I got a phone call during the workout, and they said the coronavirus has postponed the pro day. I was real upset. I know a lot of NFL teams have been reaching out to me, and I wanted to get out there and show them in person, instead of doing this virtual thing they’ve got. I wanted to showcase my skills in person. I was ready to run that 40, and at my size, I felt like they were going to be amazed.”

Denson hasn’t let that disappointment slow him down, and he has been working hard on his own for whenever he’s able to get back on a football field.

“I’m running a lot, but there aren’t too many places you can lift. I do have a little set,” Denson said. “A guy from LaGrange reached out to me, and he had one, so I work out twice a day, just making sure I’m staying ready.”