South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel will skip Belk Bowl to focus on the 2019 NFL Draft

South Carolina senior wide receiver Deebo Samuel will skip the Belk Bowl and focus on preparing for the 2019 NFL Draft, the school announced Monday. The 6-foot, 210-pounder leads the Gamecocks with 62 catches for 882 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2018.

"I now have a chance to support my family and community in a way that could impact so many around me," Samuel said in a statement. "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 six 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 first team of the AP All-SEC team as an all-purpose player on Monday, and made the second team as a wide receiver. He returned 23 kickoffs for 570 yards and a touchdown for the Gamecocks in 2018. He also led the team in receiving as a sophomore in 2016 with 783 yards and one touchdown.

"I personally support his decision," said 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."

Samuel is widely considered one of the top draft-eligible wide receiver prospects in the 2019 draft class. He's the fifth-ranked wide receiver in CBSSports.com's most recent player rankings, and No. 43 overall. 

South Carolina will play Virginia in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 29 in Charlotte.

College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, analyst for CBS Sports HQ and host for the SiriusXM college... Full Bio

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