Two Gamecocks to enter NFL Draft

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South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery is giving up his senior season for the NFL Draft.

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South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery, who caught a Hail Mary touchdown pass at the end of the first half of the Capital One Bowl, is one of two Gamecock players set to skip their senior seasons and enter the draft.  JOHN RAOUX/ASSOCIATED PRESS
JOHN RAOUX/ASSOCIATED PRESS
South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery, who caught a Hail Mary touchdown pass at the end of the first half of the Capital One Bowl, is one of two Gamecock players set to skip their senior seasons and enter the draft.

So is cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

Both said Thursday they will enter the draft this spring.

“I would like to thank the fans, my teammates, Coach (Steve) Spurrier and everyone involved for all the opportunities South Carolina has provided me,” Jeffery said in a statement. “I am proud to say I will always be a Gamecock.”

Jeffery’s name will likely stay with South Carolina fans for some time to come. He set the school record with 3,042 yards receiving over three seasons and capped his career as the Capital One Bowl MVP in the Gamecocks’ 30-13 victory over Nebraska.

Jeffery is considered a first-round prospect. He doesn’t have game-breaking speed, but he has the ability to catch nearly everything thrown his way – sometimes with only one arm, as he did in a November win over The Citadel.

Gilmore’s mother Linda said her son had decided to enter the draft. She said he told his parents and the Gamecocks coaching staff of his plans Wednesday, two days after South Carolina’s 30-13 victory over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl.

Gilmore had an interception and five tackles in the bowl game, and led the Gamecocks with four interceptions this year. He had eight interceptions and 181 tackles in three seasons.

Stephen Hill said he is bypassing his senior season at Georgia Tech to enter the draft.

Hill caught 28 passes for 820 yards, including five for touchdowns, this season. He led FBS players and set a school record with his average of 29.3 yards per catch.

Hill said he is “ready to move forward and work on getting better.”

He had 49 catches for 1,248 yards in three seasons in Georgia Tech’s run-first option offense.

• Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy has also decided to skip his senior season and enter the draft.

COMING BACK: Wisconsin running back Montee Ball is coming back for his senior season.

Ball told reporters that NFL evaluators informed him he would likely be a third-round draft pick and he thinks he can improve his stock. He acknowledged he’s taking a huge gamble that he will make it through his senior season without a serious injury or a drop-off in his statistics.

• Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones also decided to come back for his senior year, saying “there is still a lot more to do.”

Jones said that it would be a great honor to play in the NFL, but with most of the offensive line, several receivers and defensive players returning, the team hopes to get another shot at a national championship.

Jones is the Sooners’ all-time leading passer with 12,389 yards.

FCS AWARDS: New Hamp­shire junior linebacker Matt Evans won the Buck Buchanan Award as the FCS’ outstanding defensive player.

He led FCS players with 154 tackles and 88 solo stops.

“I just try, and want to be, the best player I can be,” Evans said. “If I play well and get those honors, that is just added incentive. Obviously, it means more to me for the team to have a better season.”

Evans appeared on 113 of the 132 ballots and received 45 first-place votes. Northern Iowa senior linebacker L.J. Fort was seconds in the voting.

PENN STATE SET TO NAME COACH

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has agreed to become the coach at Penn State, sources told ESPN on Thursday night.

The Nittany Lions plan to make the move official with an announcement Saturday, the sources said.

O’Brien interviewed for the job on Thursday.

– Associated Press


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