Junior defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles will enter the NFL Draft after this season, his father Buddy told The State on Wednesday.
Quarles leads the No. 13 Gamecocks in sacks (seven) and tackles-for-loss (11). He has started eight straight games since missing the first half of the season opener against North Carolina due to suspension, and he was named the SEC’s defensive lineman of the week two weeks ago for his performance against Missouri.
Quarles' departure is a mutual decision between the player and coaching staff, Buddy Quarles said. Head coach Steve Spurrier had an idea that Quarles was considering turning pro and told the Hodges, S.C., native to walk with the team’s seniors during pregame ceremonies on Senior Day before the Nov. 30 game against Clemson.
“I think they all came to that conclusion,” Buddy Quarles said. “They had a good assumption that he’s going to be leaving.”
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Kelcy Quarles addressed the possibility of leaving early last week but said at the time he was not thinking about it.
“You hear stuff about that and you just have to stay humble, stay grounded and stay rooted in what you are doing and just keep playing football,” he said.
NFL Draft analyst Tony Pauline reported last week that Quarles was likely to enter the draft, and Pauline predicted he would be picked among the first 75 selections. Buddy Quarles thinks the same thing.
“I’m thinking in the first three (rounds), but I don’t know right now,” Buddy Quarles said.
Kelcy Quarles will submit his paperwork for evaluation this week or next week, his father said.
Josh Norris, NFL Draft analyst for Rotoworld.com, isn’t sure Quarles will be picked that high but believes the 6-foot-4, 298-pounder good improve his draft stock in the coming months with a strong close to the season and impressive draft workouts.
“I looked at him a bit from a distance when looking at (Jadeveon) Clowney, but I don’t think I see a Top 75 talent,” Norris said. “That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t enter. People have different reasons to enter the draft, and he can rise through the process if he can test well and things like that, but as a general thing, the rest of that defensive line other than last week against Missouri, didn’t really clean up the mess that Clowney started. Quarles to me was stuck at the line of scrimmage too much. If he can use his hands a little more, use foot quickness to find space and take advantage of it by getting to the backfield and disrupting a little more like he did against Missouri, I think that’s big.”