Bruce Ellington

Tide’s Sunseri one of record 98 players declaring for draft

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A draft-eligible Alabama rumored to be headed to the NFL — or not — will indeed be a part of a record-breaking pool this May.

Tide defensive back Vinnie Sunseri was one of 98 players included on the NFL’s official list, released Sunday, of players “who have been granted special eligibility” for the upcoming draft.  It was reported a week ago that the safety was leaning toward making the early leap into the NFL, although there was some vacillation as the redshirt junior waited until right up until the Jan. 15 deadline — plus the three additional days allotted to reconsider, provided there’s no signing with an agent — before making his final decision.

Sunseri is still rehabbing a torn ACL, which he suffered in a mid-October win over Arkansas.

The 98 players granted special eligibility by the NFL is a record, shattering and/or obliterating the old mark of 73 set just last year.  That standard broke the record of 65 set the year before that.  In 2004, just 43 players with eligibility remaining left school early.

For the second consecutive year, LSU led all schools with seven early entrants.  In 2013, the Tigers saw 10 players leave early.  Sunseri gave the Tide five players leaving early, the same number as USC and one-win Cal (?).  Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame and South Carolina each saw four players take the early jump into the NFL.

2014 marks the sixth consecutive year that the number of early entrants has increased.

The number could have actually topped the century mark as four players who have left school early but have already graduated were not included in the NFL’s official count: Southern California defensive back Dion Bailey, Arizona State linebacker Carl Bradford, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard.

You can view the complete, official list of early entrants into the NFL draft:

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An unofficial list of underclassmen who declared for the NFL draft

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The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft is upon us. It looks like we’ll have a record 92 (at minimum) declarations this year, easily topping last year’s record of 73. This draft should be among the most talent-laden in recent history.

Why the sudden exodus? Blame the new rookie wage scale, which rewards less money to first round draft picks and delays the big payout until a player’s second contract. That means the more time spent in the league, the better. A lot of these players want to get moving on proving themselves, even if they are a late round pick at the start.

Here’s the unofficial list of early entries as of the Jan. 15 deadline. The NFL will have an official list on Jan. 19:

Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
George Atkinson III, RB, Notre Dame
Dion Bailey, S, USC
Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU
Kapri Bibbs, RB, Colorado State
Brendan Bigelow, RB, California
Russell Bodine, C, North Carolina
Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Chris Boyd, WR, Vanderbilt
Carl Bradford, DE/OLB, Arizona State
Bashaud Breeland, DB, Clemson
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, DB, Alabama
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama State
Jonathan Dowling, S, Western Kentucky
Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU
Mike Flacco, TE, New Haven
Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford
Khairi Fortt, LB, California
Austin Franklin, WR, New Mexico State
Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State
Xavier Grimble, TE, USC
Vic Hampton, CB, South Carolina
Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
Adrian Hubbard, LB, Alabama
Kameron Jackson, CB, California
Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
Storm Johnson, RB, UCF
Henry Josey, RB, Missouri
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
A.C. Leonard, TE, Tennessee State
Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon
Aaron Lynch, DE, USF
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Marcus Martin, C, USC
Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon
Viliami Moala, DT, California
Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
Adam Muema, RB, San Diego State
Jake Murphy, TE, Utah
Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Jeoffrey Pagan, DL, Alabama
Ronald Powell, LB, Florida
Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
Kelcy Quarles, DL, South Carolina
Darrin Reaves, RB, UAB
Ed Reynolds, FS, Stanford
Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Richard Rodgers, TE California
Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Yawin Smallwood, LB, UConn
Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming
Jerome Smith, RB, Syracuse
Willie Snead, WR, Ball State
Josh Stewart, WR, Oklahoma State
Xavier Su’a-Filo, OL, UCLA
De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Trai Turner, OG, LSU
George Uko, DL, USC
Pierre Warren, FS, Jacksonville State
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Terrance West, RB, Towson
James Wilder Jr., RB, Florida State
David Yankey, OL, Stanford

Bruce Ellington one of four Gamecocks going pro

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South Carolina expected to lose three standout members of its defense to early entry into the NFL draft.  Friday, they lost one on the offensive side as well.

As expected, and in a couple of cases as has been previously reported, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles and cornerback Victor Hampton “will forego their final year of college eligibility and take their talents to the next level,” as the school put it in its release.

Additionally, USC confirmed that wide receiver Bruce Ellington is leaving along with his defensive teammates.

Ellington, who also played on the men’s basketball team as well, led the Gamecocks with 49 receptions for 775 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013.  Having received his degree this past December, the receiver thanked all of those who helped prepare him for this next step in his life.

“I would like to thank Coach Spurrier, Coach Horn and Coach Martin for giving me the opportunity to play both football and basketball at South Carolina,” said Ellington. “I also want to thank all the Gamecock fans and my teammates for the past four years in Columbia. It’s been a great experience and I’ve been truly blessed.”

Connor Shaw’s five TDs leads Gamecocks to bowl win over Badgers

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After a brief respite, the Big Ten’s bowl woes have continued.

The latest from the league to stumble this postseason is Wisconsin, which fell to South Carolina 34-24 in the Capital One Bowl Wednesday afternoon.  The Gamecocks actually trailed by one at the half before outscoring the Badgers 21-10 the rest of the way.

Connor Shaw, wrapping up his tenure as arguably the greatest quarterback in the program’s history, passed for 312 yards and accounted for five touchdowns — three passing, one rushing and one receiving.  Bruce Ellington caught two of Shaw’s touchdown passes and threw one of his own, a nine-yarder to Shaw in the middle of the second quarter that pushed USC’s lead to 13-7.

Shaw, obviously, was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

In a losing effort, Melvin Gordon and James White again ran for 100-plus yards each, with the former collecting a team-high 143 and the latter 107.  It was the sixth time this season Gordon and White have cracked the 100-yard plateau in the same game.

Following the game, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney confirmed what’s been expected since he first suited up for the Gamecocks three years ago, that he will make himself available for the 2014 NFL draft.

Thanks to this loss as well as Iowa’s loss to LSU, the Big Ten finishes the day 1-2 in head-to-head matchups with the SEC.  Overall, the conference is 1-4 this postseason, 1-6 if you include future league members Maryland and Rutgers.

The SEC, on the other hand, is now 5-1 during the 2013-14 bowl season, with the four other wins coming from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Texas A&M and LSU.

The Big Ten has two games remaining during this postseason — Michigan State (vs. Stanford in the Rose Bowl) and Ohio State (vs. Clemson in the Orange Bowl — and are assured another sub-.500 bowl record while the SEC has four — Missouri (vs. Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl), Vanderbilt (vs. Houston in the BBVA Compass Bowl), Alabama (vs. Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl) and Auburn (vs. Florida State in the BCS title game).

Missouri’s BCS dreams clank off upright in double overtime

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Missouri’s undefeated season did not come quietly. Rather, it came with a loud clank off the left upright in the second overtime. South Carolina handed Missouri their first loss in the season after Connor Shaw came off the sidelines for a wild rally and Andrew Baggett‘s 24-yard kick in the second overtime ran in to the upright and bounced the BCS dreams of Missouri from the conversation. South Carolina, down 17-0 at one point in the second half, stormed back for a wild 27-24 victory.

South Carolina needed a spark in the second half. Trailing 14-0 to Missouri, Steve Spurrier wanted to see Dylan Thompson lead the Gamecocks back with the SEC East on the line, but three straight incomplete passes turned the football over on downs in Missouri territory, the ol’ ball coach made the move to call on a beat-up Connor Shaw. The way Shaw played some might wonder why he did not get the start in the first place.

Shaw led the Gamecocks all the way back from a 17-0 deficit in the in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 17-17 with 42 seconds to spare and the defense held Missouri to force overtime on the road.

Missouri struck first in the overtime, taking the overtime’s opening possession in on the ground with a Marcus Murphy run to the left side of the line near the goal line. With the game one down away from being clinched by Missouri, Shaw once again came through in the clutch with a fourth-and-goal pass to the end zone, where it was secured by Bruce Ellington to send the game to a second overtime.

The tension only built from there. With Missouri feeling so close to a trip to Atlanta as the SEC East champions, it would be up to the defense to make the first play in the second overtime. During the possession though South Carolina lost running back Mike Davis to what appeared to be a gruesome lower leg injury on his right leg. Amazingly, Davis walked off the field. Two plays later, the Elliott Fry kicked a 40-yard field goal to give the Gamecocks their first lead of the night. then the kicking game caught up to Missouri, when Baggett’s much shorter attempt hit the upright and fell no good.

Missouri’s loss will hurt in the standings, but the Tigers may still have a good shot to get to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. Missouri still holds a one-game lead in the loss column in the SEC East, with South Carolina now right behind them and owning a tiebreaker. This loss will be a setback for a team that has built plenty of momentum and deserved credit. This Missouri team is still going to play a factor in the SEC race and could still get back in to the BCS conversation before the end of the season. Missouri could still make a run to become the nation’s top one-loss team. If the Tigers can manage to run the table the rest of the way, which would likely include a win over Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, then Missouri would absolutely be one of the favorites to get in to the BCS Championship when all is said and done.

But for now Missouri just needs to bounce back next week against at home against Tennessee.