South Carolina star cornerback Jaycee Horn announced his decision to opt out for the rest of the season late last night, citing his desire to go ahead and start preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Horn is the current team leader with two interceptions and six pass breakups this season. ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper has him listed as the sixth-best cornerback available, and Horn is widely seen as a first-round draft pick.
While this is a blow to the Gamecocks’ already struggling defense, it’s not a surprising move for multiple reasons. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many college players opted out either before the season started or did so along the way as cases piled up nationally and in locker rooms. There are also only three games left in a season that South Carolina has struggled to be competitive in, so opening himself up to potential injury is probably not worth the risk when he already has a first-round resume. And finally, this move comes on the heels of Will Muschamp’s firing, and of the positive things you can say about him, he’s definitely a player’s coach. It’s possible Horn just wasn’t interested in sticking around to see what happens under Bobo.
We’ll see how much of a domino effect this starts with other players opting out or transferring (as well as recruits walking back their commitments). Attrition is expected after a coaching change, so it’s something to keep an eye on.