Former Gamecock Stephon Gilmore is learning to play a new game. He's taking golf lessons.
"It seems like everybody's golfing now, so I don't like losing, so I need to take lessons," Gilmore told WIS by phone Tuesday after finishing practice with the Buffalo Bills.
The defensive back is getting ready for his third season in Buffalo. And he's getting used to playing on the same team as one of his former Clemson rivals, Bills first-round draft pick Sammy Watkins.
"He looked pretty good," he said of Watkins' early workouts in Orchard Park. "I think he'll help us out, help us win games."
After playing across the field from Watkins, Gilmore has to get used to not seeing him, or the Bills 2010 first-round draft pick, C.J. Spiller, as targets. But the Rock Hill native has more to brag about.
"I tease CJ all the time and I told Sammy ‘Why are we getting all these Clemson guys on our team?'" he said. "So I'm like, ‘Well, why are we getting all these guys when we beat y'all five years in a row?' I always tease them but they're great guys and they're great athletes and it's been fun talking about the rivalry."
Gilmore says the Bills recent first-round draft picks from the SEC and ACC will make the team successful. He was the Bills' first-round selection in the 2012 NFL draft.
"We definitely got the athletes," he said. "There's no question about that. We just gotta' figure out how to play together as a team and make everybody accountable and I think then we'll start winning games."
Gilmore returns to Columbia Saturday to meet fans at Garnet and Black Traditions and at the Columbia Blowfish game Saturday night. It's his first time back in Columbia since he attended USC's Pro Day, where he caught up with former teammate Jadeveon Clowney.
"I knew he was going to go the number one pick over," he said of the advice he offered Clowney. "Just to have fun and once he gets to whatever team he goes to, just to work hard and go from there."
Once Clowney was drafted by the Texans, he spoke to him again.
"He actually said it's pretty hard right now but I told him to keep working and eventually his body and his mental part of the game, he'll get used to it."
Since Buffalo and Houston are in the AFC, he expects to see a lot of Clowney and a few other Gamecock teammates.
"I'm definitely looking forward to it," he said. "It's going to be crazy because actually, D.J. Swearinger and Jadeveon Clowney and Johnathan Joseph, all South Carolina guys, there's going to be four of us on the field. So it's going to be a great experience."
They'll meet in Houston on September 28.
Gilmore says he stays in contact with other Gamecock teammates in the NFL.
"I talk to all the guys that I played with like Melvin Ingram, Akeem Auguste, Alshon (Jeffery.) We all keep up and check up on each other so we all try to stay close and check on each other to see if everybody's good."
And through occasional contact with former coaches Ellis Johnson and Lorenzo Ward, Gilmore stays close to the current Gamecocks.
"I think they had some good talent. I talked to Lorenzo Ward and he says a lot of guys committed to the University of South Carolina that he likes and thinks that they'll help the team out and they got a lot of talent coming back. So I think that they can keep the ball rolling and win and hopefully they'll win the SEC this year."
Gilmore says he's looking forward to returning to the flock of Gamecock fans.
"Because there's no fans like the South Carolina fans and they always was there for us and I'm just looking forward to meeting them."
They're not that much different from Bills fans.
"The fans are crazy," he said. "It's a die-hard town and they just want to win, so if we get the team winning, I think it will turn Buffalo with the tradition around and it will be back like the old Buffalo of the 1990's."
And he's acquired a taste for Buffalo wings.
"Buffalo's got pretty good food. I think the soul food, it's better down south than it is here, so that's the only thing I crave, but it's good because if I could eat soul food every day, I wouldn't have my weight where it is now."
Gilmore is signing autographs and meeting fans at Garnet and Black traditions at 228 Knox Abbott Drive in Cayce from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Admission is free but only items purchased in the store will be signed.
Saturday night, Gilmore is throwing out the first pitch at the Columbia Blowfish game when they host the Forest City Owls. The game starts at 7 p.m. and it is The U.S. Army Birthday Celebration/ Military Appreciation Ike night.