COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC Athletics) - University of South Carolina first-team All-SEC performer Deebo Samuel has announced via social media that he will forego playing in the 2018 Belk Bowl and begin focusing on the 2019 NFL Draft.
“I now have a chance to support my family and community in a way that could impact so many around me,” Samuel said in part on his Instagram account. “As much as I would love to suit up one last time for the Gamecocks, having those extra weeks to better prepare for NFL will be crucial. As I look to the next chapter, I realize the next 6 months will determine my next four years and potentially even more. I will be at the bowl game to cheer on my brothers and to thank USC, the fans and my family for making my dreams come true!”
Samuel, was named to the 2018 Associated Press first-team All-SEC unit as an all-purpose performer and was a second-team selection at wide receiver. The 6-0, 210-pounder from Inman, S.C., led the Gamecocks with 62 receptions for 882 yards and 11 receiving touchdowns. He rushed eight times for 26 yards and returned 23 kickoffs for 570 yards, a 24.8-yard average. He also completed one pass attempt for a 13-yard touchdown. Samuel averaged 123.2 all-purpose yards per game in 2018 and scored 13 touchdowns overall. He ranked tied for fifth in the SEC with 5.2 receptions, seventh with 73.5 receiving yards, fourth in kick return average and second in all-purpose yards per game.
“I personally support his decision,” said head coach Will Muschamp. “Deebo has been a great student-athlete, both on and off the field, at the University of South Carolina and will graduate on December 17. We appreciate all of his contributions to the University and wish him the best of luck as he pursues his dream of playing in the NFL.”
For his career, Samuel ranks eighth on South Carolina’s all-time list with 148 receptions, 10th with 2,076 receiving yards and tied for ninth with 16 receiving touchdowns. His 3,457 all-purpose yards ranks eighth. He is the school’s all-time record holder and owns a share of the SEC record with four career kickoff returns for touchdowns, and is Carolina’s career kickoff return leader, averaging 29.0 yards per return. He scored 28 career touchdowns, tying for fourth on the all-time list with Brandon Bennett and Cory Boyd. Samuel logged 16 receiving touchdowns, seven rushing, four kickoff returns and one fumble recovery. He also threw a pair of touchdown passes.
The Gamecocks (7-5) will face the Virginia Cavaliers (7-5) out of the Atlantic Coast Conference in the 2018 Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday, Dec. 29. Game time is set for noon