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Geathers will explore NFL

USC head football coach Steve Spurrier watches as the Gamecocks run through drills during practice.
USC head football coach Steve Spurrier watches as the Gamecocks run through drills during practice.

South Carolina defensive end Clifton Geathers had not given much thought to the NFL draft - until everyone started asking him about it.

The junior from Georgetown said Tuesday he plans to ask for an evaluation from the NFL's underclassmen advisory committee, but expects to return to USC for his final season.

"It's a big decision, and I don't think I'm going anywhere as of right now," said Geathers, who put the odds of leaving at 20 percent.

USC has had juniors leave early after three of Steve Spurrier's first four seasons, including three last season: Tight end Jared Cook was a third-round pick, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn went in the seventh round, and safety Emanuel Cook went undrafted.

Said Geathers: "Coach Spurrier told us, if you're a junior, send your papers in. See how it looks. If you're a first- (or) second-round pick, then leave. If you're not, then stay."

Though none of the Gamecocks' juniors has indicated they plan to leave, Geathers said it would not surprise him if someone decides to go.

"There are going to be guys that test the waters," he said. "I guess every school's that way."

USC linebacker Eric Norwood announced after the Outback Bowl he planned to turn pro, before reversing course a couple of days later. Norwood, who on Tuesday became the Gamecocks' first first-team AP All-American in 25 years, said he has talked to the juniors about their options.

"I tell them the same thing coach tells them: Unless they're a first-rounder, it ain't too smart to go out," Norwood said. "But at the same time, people go through different situations. You never know what a guy's going through and their reasons for going."

Signs of progress. Spurrier was excited about Norwood's All-American selection and the Freshman All-American honors for receiver Alshon Jeffery and cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who made Scout.com's first team.

"I feel good about trying to make a big run with this team the next four years. We've got a lot of good players," Spurrier said. "Eric Norwood making All-American, that's a nice honor. It shows you can certainly come to University of South Carolina and make All-American. Now what we need to do is win some championships around here."

Extra points. Tailback Kenny Miles, the Gamecocks' leading rusher, was the only player in a yellow (noncontact) jersey Tuesday when USC held its first bowl practice. Miles sustained a concussion against Clemson. ... The Gamecocks will practice the next eight days before breaking for the holidays. The team leaves for the Papajohns.com Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., on Dec. 29.

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