South Carolina junior WR Alshon Jeffery and cornerback Stephon Gilmore have decided to enter the 2012 NFL Draft, ESPN's Joe Schad reported.
Jeffery had 88 catches for 1,517 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore, when defenses zeroed in on then-freshman phenom Marcus Lattimore. Without Lattimore, who suffered a torn ACL in October, Jeffery drew more attention and wasn't aided by a midseason switch at quarterback. He finished with 49-762-8 in 2011.
NFLDraftScout.com projects Jeffery as a fringe first-round pick. He's ranked 40th overall and fifth among wide receivers.
"I would like to thank the fans, my teammates, Coach Spurreir and everyone involved for all the opportunities South Carolina has provided me," Jeffery said, according to Schad. "I am proud to say I will always be a Gamecock."
The 6-foot-4 receiver was ejected from the Capital One Bowl on Monday after shoving Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard, a small, pesky cornerback who is also in the first-round mix. He has been frustrated when unable to separate and uses his body to shield receivers from the ball. If he runs near 4.6 in the 40 as NFLDraftScout.com expects, he is unlikely to be a first-round pick.
Gilmore and Jeffery have yet to hire agents, per the report, and therefore can return to South Carolina if they so choose by Jan. 14.
Gilmore has played mostly off-man coverage and has good size but fits best in a zone system. His size and skill set are comparable to Bears zone corner Charles Tillman, a second-round pick in 2003. Gilmore is an aggressive tackler and asset against the run. At 6-1, 193, he could work his way up from his current spot -- 50th overall -- in the NFLDraftScout.com rankings and be a pleasant surprise.