Juniors Kelcy Quarles and Victor Hampton are welcome to participate in the team’s Senior Day activities before next week’s Clemson game, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said.
Whether that means it will be the last collegiate game for both is yet to be seen.
Quarles, a 6-foot-4, 298-pound defensive tackle, leads South Carolina with seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss. His father, Buddy, told The State earlier this month that Quarles plans to enter the NFL draft following this season.
“I’ve talked briefly with Kelcy, and, possibly, Victor Hampton may want to come out early, too,” Spurrier said.
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“Right now, I am just focused on we’ve got a couple big games left,” Quarles said. “I just want to go out and play the best I can with my teammates while I can.”
Hampton, a 5-10, 202-pound cornerback, leads the Gamecocks with six pass breakups and also has two interceptions and 35 tackles.
“I’m considering it, but right now I am focusing on Gamecock football,” he said. “I still have, hopefully, three or four games here, and I’m going to focus about every game here before I can worry about going to the next level.”
If the players participate in Senior Day activities, it won’t lock them into leaving. Spurrier told them, “If you decide to stay, then you can get introduced next year also, the way Kenny Miles did.”
“We’ve had several players do that,” Spurrier said. “It’s up to them if they feel like they’re ready to go.”
Junior offensive lineman A.J. Cann will file paperwork with the NFL’s underclassman advisory committee to get an idea of his potential draft status, but plans to return next season, he said.
“I will (file), to see what it looks like,” Cann said. “I’ve got another year of school left, and that’s another year to get better, so I am going to stay in school.”
Offensive linemen Corey Robinson and Brandon Shell also are draft-eligible. Robinson is a junior, and Shell is a redshirt sophomore, but Cann said he wasn’t sure how any of the team’s other underclassmen are leaning.
“The (players) I am pretty close with, I think are all going to stay,” he said.
South Carolina’s coaching staff doesn’t ask the players to make their decision by a specific date, Spurrier said. The NFL deadline for a decision in the middle of January.
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney announced during the offseason that he would turn pro after this season.
Clowney (foot) rested Tuesday but is expected to be ready to play Saturday, defensive line coach Deke Adams said.
Quarles sat out Tuesday’s practice because of headaches but expects to return to the field Wednesday. Quarles does not have a concussion, he said.
“I have a real bad habit of leading with my head when I hit, so I am going to try to take a new approach to hitting people now,” he said.
Linebacker Cedrick Cooper did not practice because of a strained groin muscle.
Tailback Brandon Wilds (hamstring) return to practice, while teammate Mike Davis (ankle/ribs/shoulder) did not.
Backup fullback Jordan Diaz sprained his knee vs. Florida and is out indefinitely.
Other players who did not practice or wore yellow jerseys were: Brison Williams (forearm), Devin Washington (concussion), Mike Matulis (shoulder) and Ali Groves (shoulder).
By the numbers
Coastal Carolina’s 10-1 record gives the Chanticleers something in common with two of South Carolina’s other non-conference opponents. Clemson (9-1) and UCF (8-1) also have one loss each.
“Out-of-conference play has been some good teams, some very good teams,” Spurrier said.
The Gamecocks have the 21st-toughest schedule in the country, according to Jeff Sagarin’s computer rankings.
“I don’t know how many all-conference players we’re going to have — maybe two or three — but as a group, we have played pretty well. I don’t know if I’ve ever been 8-2 and won the kind of games we’ve won. We haven’t really blown out but a couple of teams, slightly blown out. So these guys are maximizing their talent. I really believe that. Hopefully, we can do it a couple more games here and take some time off and do it one more time. Whatever it may end up. Or maybe two more times. Who knows?” - Spurrier