Senior linebacker Skai Moore, South Carolina’s leading tackler each of the last three seasons, will miss the 2016 season with a herniated disc in his neck.
Moore, a 6-foot-2, 218-pound Cooper City, Fla., native, will have surgery Friday in Charlotte and will undergo a Level 1 fusion, Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said Tuesday. The procedure requires Moore to avoid contact for six months, but a full recovery is expected.
“He’ll be fine. This is not a career-threatening situation,” Muschamp said as he addressed media members on the first day of the SEC’s annual spring meetings. “This is a very common procedure for a herniated disc. It’s unfortunate that it didn’t heal on its own.”
Moore, who considered giving up his final year of eligibility after the 2015 season, will take a redshirt season in 2016 and plans to return to the team in 2017, Muschamp said.
Moore originally suffered the injury during the 2015 season and aggravated it during weight room work prior to spring practice, Muschamp said. Moore didn’t participate in spring practice, and the Gamecocks expected the injury to heal itself with rest. That didn’t happen, however, and the injury didn’t respond to a variety of non-surgical treatments.
“They thought it would shrink and heal, and it didn’t,” Muschamp said.
Moore was a second-team All-SEC selection in 2015 as he had 111 tackles, which tied for third in the SEC. He also led the Gamecocks in interceptions (four) and tackles-for-loss (6.5). He was the first South Carolina player to notch more than 100 tackles in a season since 2006.
He has started a team-high 24 games, and needs 47 tackles to move into the school’s top 10 career list. He’s also tied for third in career interceptions with 11.
“We are disappointed for Skai, but we need to support him right now,” Muschamp said. “He will graduate in the spring. It’s great he gets to come back and graduate and play his senior year.”
Linebacker depth chart
South Carolina’s post-spring linebacker depth chart
Bryson Allen-Williams (6-1 230), junior
Jonathan Walton (6-0 236), senior
or T.J. Holloman (6-2 240), senior
or Larenz Bryant (6-0 217), senior