A week after junior wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and junior cornerback Stephon Gilmore declared for the NFL draft, the South Carolina football program has kept one of its key players in the fold.
Junior defensive end Devin Taylor announced Monday that he has decided to return for his final season.
I still have some things I'd like to accomplish at Carolina before I go on to the next level, Taylor said.
The 6-foot-7, 260-pound Beaufort native started all 13 games in USCs best season, compiling 42 tackles, including 8.5 tackles for loss, and six sacks. He has made 32 career starts in 39 games over the past three seasons, with 116 tackles -- 27 for loss -- and 15.5 sacks.
While preparing for USCs 30-13 victory over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Taylor told reporters that his feedback from the NFLs underclassman advisory board stated that he would probably be selected somewhere from the fourth to the seventh rounds if he entered the draft this season.
At that point, he said it was a 50-50 decision on whether he would declare, adding that he also was told that he could better his stock with a strong workout at the NFL combine. USC coach Steve Spurrier routinely advises his players not to declare for the draft unless they have some certainty that they can be a first-round selection.
Taylors return will be important to a defensive line that is losing All-American senior end Melvin Ingram and senior tackle Travian Robertson. With Taylor back, the Gamecocks will return a pair of top-flight pass-rushing defensive ends with Jadeveon Clowney, the SEC freshman of the year who had 36 tackles and eight sacks, on the opposite side.
The Gamecocks also will return end Chaz Sutton and tackles Kelcy Quarles, Byron Jerideau and Aldrick Fordham along the defensive front.
Taylor, a first-team All-SEC choice in 2010 and an honorable mention selection this season, has played a key role in USCs top back-to-back seasons in school history with a 20-6 record.
Also Monday, South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward confirmed that Gilmore will enter the NFL Draft.