South Carolina football is fighting for bowl eligibility. A win over the rival Clemson Tigers this Saturday would lock them in for a postseason berth, and there is a chance that they could get an invite at 5-7, as well.
However, according to Brad Crawford of 247Sports, the Gamecocks could be without the offense’s two best players if they do reach a bowl game.
In an article about the top-10 college football players who could opt out of bowls, Crawford (along with others from the 247Sports team) included quarterback Spencer Rattler and wide receiver Xavier Legette in his “best of the rest” section.
For this exercise, Crawford and 247 did not include players opting out due to hitting the transfer portal. Former South Carolina football players MarShawn Lloyd and Jaheim Bell did not play in last year’s Gator Bowl because they were transferring.
Spencer Rattler and Xavier Legette will both be selected in the 2024 NFL Draft. Both players have been mocked as high as the 1st round and as low as the 4th. The upper half of the draft is the prime position for opt outs, especially for offensive skill position players.
Rattler and Legette are not the only Gamecocks projected to be taken in next year’s NFL Draft, but they are the only two who likely are to be taken in the first few rounds. Fellow Gamecocks like TJ Sanders and Juice Wells could be picked, as well, if they elect to declare for the draft. Several other USC players would have an outside chance of late selections or undrafted free agent contracts.
Though quarterbacks, receivers, and running backs are often the primary opt out candidates, last season, Gamecock defensive backs Cam Smith and Darius Rush and defensive tackle Zacch Pickens did not play in the bowl game as they pursued their NFL dreams.
Crawford said that he thinks there could be a record number of opt-outs in this bowl cycle. Former Gamecock Jordan Burch (now at Oregon) was also named by Crawford as a potential opt-out candidate.