Notebook: Decisions loom for 5 Gamecocks

jkendall@thestate.comJanuary 2, 2012 

South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (1) celebrates the Gamecocks win over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl game in Orlando, FL, Monday, January 2, 2012.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

— As South Carolina celebrated its 30-13 win Monday night over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl, several players had something more than the win on their minds.

Wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Bruce Ellington, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, defensive end Devin Taylor and running back Kenny Miles all might have played their final game with the Gamecocks. Juniors Jeffery, Gilmore and Taylor are considering giving up their final year of eligibility to enter this year’s NFL Draft.

“I am worried about celebrating with my teammates. I ain’t worried about that,” Jeffery said after being awarded the game’s most valuable player trophy for his four-catch, 148-yard effort. “I am just thinking about enjoying this night with my teammates.”

Jeffery, who could be a first round pick, is widely expected to leave.

Gilmore has mostly made up his mind, he said, but wants to finalize the decision before announcing it, he said.

“I am going to sit down with my mom and dad and see what’s the best for me,” he said.

Gilmore had a long talk Sunday with defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward about his decision, he said.

Ward “just said do what’s best for me, whatever decision I make, be 100 percent with it,” Gilmore said.

Taylor remains torn, he said.

“They have to do what they feel is right for them,” Ward said of Gilmore and Taylor. “We would love to have them back. They know we would love to have them back, but the decision comes down to them and what their family thinks.”

Ellington, who didn’t have a catch or a carry, will rejoin the basketball team for Tuesady night’s game against South Carolina State, he said. He is considering playing only one of the sports next year.

“I haven’t made that decision yet,” he said.

Miles may transfer in order to get more playing time in his final season of eligibility. He started Monday’s game and finished with 67 yards on 15 carries and his first touchdown since 2009, but he would be behind Marcus Lattimore next year and battling Brandon Wilds and Shon Carson for backup time.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I just know right now I am enjoying this 11th win that we got.”

MOB SCENE

After being presented the bowl game trophy, coach Steve Spurrier took the microphone and invited all the South Carolina fans in the stands to come onto the field and “hug a player.” The stadium’s security quickly vetoed that plan.

“Steve was emotional,” school president Harris Pastides said. “He tossed me this shirt and he said, ‘Let’s get the fans down here.’ They wouldn’t really let him do that, but I think he thinks, and I agree, they were the 12th man today.”

NOT SPECIAL AT ALL

The kicking game continued to be a problem. Punter Joey Scribner-Howard’s first two kicks went 30 and 23 yards, and place-kicker Jay Wooten shanked one kickoff. At one point, special teams coach John Butler appeared to check the special teams balls to make sure they were properly inflated.

“You never see me yell at our punter when he kicks one of those 25-yarders. He does it in practice, too,” Spurrier said.

After Wooten’s kick, Butler tried to demonstrate the proper kicking motion for Wooten on the sideline.

“I said, ‘Coach Butler, do you realize you’re on television right not acting like an idiot trying to demonstrate how to kick a ball?’ ” Spurrier said.

NUNN’S FINALE

Senior Kyle Nunn, who had not played due since Sept. 24 due to a back injury, played every snap at left tackle. Nunn had back surgery and was hospitalized due to a blood clot during his eight-game absence.

“I felt great,” he said. “I felt like I did game four, before I got hurt. I want to thank everyone who helped me get back here, trainers and doctors and everybody.”

Senior Terrence Campbell dressed out for the game but was unable to play in his final collegiate game due to a leg injury.

SAVE THE DATES

The Gamecocks announced several dates for the upcoming year Monday. They are scheduled to open spring practice March 12 and conclude it with the Garnet and Black spring game on April 14. The Ladies Clinic is scheduled for April 21. South Carolina, which opens the 2012 season on Aug. 30 at Vanderbilt, will open fall camp on Aug. 2.

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