Skai Moore will have a chance to lead South Carolina in tackles four years in a row.
The linebacker from Florida reversed course Thursday and announced he will return to the Gamecocks for his senior season after originally deciding to skip his final year and enter the 2016 NFL Draft.
“I think Skai made a mature decision to come back to the University of South Carolina,” South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said in a statement released by the school. “He took all the information we gathered for him and decided it was in his best interest to return to school for his senior year. I’m excited about coaching him.”
Moore, 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, has 260 tackles in a three-year career. The school record for career tackles is J.D. Fuller’s 405 (1979, 1981-1983) He has led the Gamecocks in stops the last three years and had 111 tackles last year, the most by any South Carolina player since Jonathan Martin had 122 in 2002.
Moore announced his decision via his Instragram account on Thursday morning.
“After talking with my family about this big decision I feel it’s only right to go back to school and finish what I started!” he wrote. “I can’t wait to be in front of the best fans in the nation next year! Ready to give y’all all I got one more round! Y’all ready?!?!?!”
Moore, who could not be reached for further comment, could have been as high as a second-round selection in this year’s draft with a good workout, Rotoworld.com NFL Draft analyst Josh Norris said.
“I’m a big fan,” Norris said. “ As long as he stays healthy, I don’t see how (coming back) can hurt him. Hopefully, South Carolina is better next year and when teams are better you can get a more favorable look at someone. It’s tough to be an outstanding player in a bad situation.”
Moore included the word “bigsafety” in his Instagram post, but Norris says he projects as a linebacker in the NFL. Moore split time at middle linebacker and weak side linebacker last season.
“If a player is successful close to the football, why move them further away from it?” Norris asked. “I think he could be potentially be the first-, second- or third-best coverage linebacker in this year’s class. It can be tough to find linebackers that are that comfortable out in space. That is one of the pivotal traits you are looking for now.”