Reports are now coming out that Clifton Geathers is going to declare for the NFL Draft. Geathers's decision ends a week or so of speculation on the topic.
As for whether or not I think this is the right move for Geathers, I'm not sure. Geathers was told that he projects from the 4th-7th round. If that ends up being the case, Geathers would have certainly been able to have a better shot at a guaranteed contract and more money if he had stayed and had a good 2010. A low-round selection would put him in the same shoes as Captain Munnerlyn, who is getting much less for his services to the Carolina Panthers than he might, or Emanuel Cook, who didn't make a roster. None of those eventualities would spell "good decision." On the other hand, though, I'm fairly convinced that Geathers can raise his draft stock with the probability of a good combine. Physically, Geathers is everything the NFL wants out of a defensive end. He's tall, huge, and fast, and that all suggests that he is potentially a ball-deflecting sack machine. He hasn't shown that on the field consistently yet, but he's shown flashes that may convince some GM to take a chance on him.
As for where this puts the Gamecocks, I'm not too worried. I would have loved to have Geathers back, but we have talent at defensive end. Cliff Matthews will be one of the SEC and maybe the nation's best next year, and another year of training will make Devin Taylor even better than he was this past year. We also have some good depth we haven't seen yet; Chaz Sutton and Aldrick Fordham, for example. I also have to think Geathers's departure might mean something to prospect Ego Ferguson, Jr., who would almost certainly see the field in his freshman year if he were to sign with us.
At any rate, I wish Geathers luck in his career. I'm not one to judge players for making this decision, as you never know what factors led up to it. I just hope he got good advice and I hope his career is a success.