Josh Kendall

Early NFL entry winners and losers on South Carolina’s 2018 schedule

Now that the list of early entries into the NFL Draft is official, we can take a look at how South Carolina’s 2018 season will be affected by the decisions.

The Gamecocks will lose one early entrant to the draft in tight end Hayden Hurst.

Some of the next season’s opponents avoided any losses, while some suffered many more. Of the 12 teams on the Gamecocks schedule, here are the winners and losers in the early entry pool:

Winners

Coastal Carolina, Sept. 1

A Chanticleers team that went 3-9 last season didn’t lose anybody early, which is not exactly a surprise.

Vanderbilt, Sept. 22

Vanderbilt didn’t lose anybody to the NFL, which is to be expected because, No. 1, it’s Vanderbilt and, No. 2, it went 1-7 in the SEC last year.

Kentucky, Sept. 29

The Wildcats didn’t lose anybody despite having three defenders who could have gone in linebackers Josh Allen and Denzil Ware and defensive back Mike Edwards. Head coach Mark Stoops trumpeted their return on Twitter as a good sign of the program’s potential. We will see.

Missouri, Oct. 6

Quarterback Drew Lock’s decision to return to Missouri was a little surprising but probably makes sense in light of the loaded NFL quarterback class this year. We’ll see how Lock performs under new offensive coordinator Derek Dooley. The Tigers didn’t lose any other players.

Chattanooga, Nov. 17

The Mocs return full strength in 2018.

Clemson, Nov. 24

The Tigers deservedly took some pride and encouragement from the fact that defensive linemen Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant all decided to return, but Clemson still will feel some pain from early entries. Wide receivers Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud, offensive lineman Taylor Hearn and cornerback Van Smith decided to leave a year early.

Losers

Georgia, Sept. 8

The Bulldogs benefited greatly this season because the likes of Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Lorenzo Carter decided to stay and play their senior season. Georgia wasn’t as fortunate this year as Butkus Award winning linebacker Roquan Smith is going pro, to the relief of the SEC and the nation. The Dogs also lost defensive tackle Trenton Thompson, but Smith is what made that defense so good last year.

Marshall, Sept. 15

You wouldn’t expect the Thundering Herd to have a name on the list but quarterback Chase Litton, the fourth-leading passer in school history, is turning pro a year early, meaning the Gamecocks will get a team in quarterback transition.

Texas A&M, Oct. 13

The Aggies only lost one player, but he was a good one. Wide receiver and kick return Christian Kirk is going pro, and while South Carolina managed to hem him in last year, Will Muschamp and company no doubt are happy not to worry about him anymore.

Tennessee, Oct. 27

The Volunteers lost one player, but it will leave a huge hole. That’s because that one player is defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 320 pounds.

Ole Miss, Nov. 3

Defensive lineman Breeland Speaks opted to leave early for the NFL, and quarterback Shea Patterson transferred to Michigan, which will help when South Carolina makes its first trip to Oxford, Miss., since 2008.

Florida, Nov. 10

The Gators lost one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in the country in Taven Bryan, plus super-talented wide receiver Antonio Callaway, although not many people will miss Callaway since he missed so much time due to suspension when he was on the team.

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