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Thursday, January 5, 2012
Alshon Jeffery, Stephon Gilmore declare

By Joe Schad
ESPN

South Carolina junior wide receiver Alshon Jeffery said Thursday that he is declaring for the NFL draft.

Gamecocks junior cornerback Stephon Gilmore also said he will enter the draft. Gilmore had an interception and five tackles in the Gamecocks' 30-13 victory over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl.

The 6-foot-4, 229-pound Jeffery had 49 catches for 762 yards and eight touchdowns this season. He is rated 25th overall and third among receivers, according to ESPN Scouts Inc.

"I'm ready for the next step. I'm physical and can make plays in the red zone. I can make big plays in big games. I can work on my speed and get quicker. I want to be like (NFL receivers) Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson," Jeffery told ESPN.com Thursday.

Jeffery tweeted, in part, "I would like to thank the fans, my teammates , coach spurrier and everyone involved for all the opportunities south Carolina has provided me, I am proud to say I will always be a gamecock."

Of his decision to turn pro, Gilmore said: "It's my time to leave. It's about my family. "

Gilmore, who is listed at 6-1 and 192 pounds, had eight interceptions and 173 tackles, including seven sacks, in his college career. He cited his ability to play man-to-man coverage as one of his best attributes as a player.

"I can press man. I can play physical. I have good size," Gilmore said. "I will try to do things like Al Harris did in the NFL."

Neither Jeffery nor Gilmore has retained an agent, sources told ESPN.com's Chris Low. Not having representation gives the players the right to change their minds by Jan. 14 in order to return to school. The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is Jan. 15.

Joe Schad is a college football reporter for ESPN. Chris Low covers SEC football for ESPN.com.