USC Gamecocks Football

Practice report: Ellington still considering turning pro after bowl

Bruce Ellington lines up for a play during South Carolina's Capital One Bowl practices at Celebration High School.
Bruce Ellington lines up for a play during South Carolina's Capital One Bowl practices at Celebration High School.

Junior Bruce Ellington, South Carolina’s leading wide receiver, will decide whether to enter the NFL Draft or return for one more season with the Gamecocks football and basketball teams when he returns home from the Capital One Bowl.

Ellington has asked the NFL’s underclassmen advisory committee to project his draft status, and if he likes the answer, he’s leaning toward turning pro, he said Saturday after the Gamecocks finished their second on-site practice for the bowl game.

“I am just waiting on my papers right now. If it says pretty good, I am going to talk to (basketball coach Frank Martin) and tell him I want to go if there’s a chance I can leave,” Ellington said. “I am just thinking about it right now.”

Ellington believes the answer he’s looking for is in an envelope at his parents’ home right now, but he will not ask them to open it, he said.

“I want to wait and see it myself,” he said. “If it comes up that I want to make that decision to go the NFL, then I am going to have to talk to Coach Martin and make that decision.”

Ellington declined to say what round projection would be enticing enough to get him to leave college. Underclassmen must declare for the NFL Draft by Jan. 15, and if Ellington leaves, he will leave South Carolina’s basketball team without a point guard who started 19 games and averaged 9.9 points per game last season.

“I came here to play basketball,” he said. “I just ended up playing football, and it’s gone good.”

Ellington, who has one more year of eligibility remaining in both sports, has caught 43 passes for 635 yards and six touchdowns entering the bowl game.

“I want to go out with a win,” he said.

Returning tackles

Junior offensive tackle Brandon Shell also asked for his draft status to be evaluated by the NFL, but he plans to return regardless of the answer, he said Saturday. Shell also believes junior offensive linemen Corey Robinson and A.J. Cann will return. Robinson and Cann each submitted paperwork to the NFL.

“Yeah, we are all coming back next year,” Shell said.

On the mend

Sophomore running back Mike Davis is “pretty close” to 100 percent healthy, running backs coach Everette Sands said.

“He’s had some really good days of practice here,” Sands said. “I am looking forward to him being close to full strength and do some things and get back to that old Mike Davis.”

Davis rushed for 1,134 yards this season but averaged 2.7 yards per carry in the final three games as he battled shoulder, rib and ankle injuries. Davis declined to discuss his health.

Game time decision

Offensive line coach Shawn Elliott won’t name his starting center until game day. Freshmen Cody Waldrop, who stated the last three games, and freshman Clayton Stadnik, who started seven games in the middle of the season, are competing for the job.

“I am going to leave it right up until the game,” Elliott said. “I am going to let them have it out. I have been mixing and matching (in practice). I am not going to mention a word to them. They know who’s playing well and who’s not.”

Elliott was unhappy with Waldrop’s play against Clemson on Nov. 30.

Sands and The Citadel

Sands, a former Citadel running back and assistant coach, has not been “directly contacted” about the school’s open head coaching job and doesn’t believe the time is right for him to make a move if he is contacted, he said.

“That’s my alma mater. I love the Citadel. I want to one day be the head coach of the Citadel. Now’s just not that time,” Sands said. “I’ve got a real good thing going here. Got a young group. Coach (Steve) Spurrier is great to work for. Looking to do some good things here in the future.”

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