Thursday’s Outback Bowl figures to be the final game for a few of the Gamecocks’ juniors.
Confirmed that cornerback Captain Munnerlyn received his evaluation from the NFL’s advisory committee and is projected as a first-day draft pick (somewhere in the first three rounds).
Though Munnerlyn has not made it official, USC coaches had the sense that Munnerlyn was leaning toward turning pro even before he heard back from the NFL. Munnerlyn has not had a great season, but you’ve got to think that with a grade like that he will not be returning to USC for his senior season.
Not surprisingly, strong safety Emanuel Cook has informed coaches that he plans to enter the draft rather than return to school, where he faced a long, though not impossible, road to restore his eligibility for the 2009 season.
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Tight end Jared Cook says he has not made up his mind, yet, though his size and speed could make him the Gamecocks’ highest draft pick if he leaves. Linebacker Eric Norwood said he’s 50-50 in terms of which direction he’s headed.
Safety Darian Stewart is USC’s fifth junior who asked for an evaluation. Still get the sense that Stewart will be back.
Conservatively, the hunch here is the Gamecocks lose three of the juniors. But it could be four if both J-Cook and Norwood decide to come out.
A bright spot: Defensive tackle Nathan Pepper said he never considered filing the paperwork for an evaluation. If the Gamecocks return to a bowl game next season and Pepper is healthy, he would become the first player in USC history to play in four bowls.