Just 48 hours after Will Muschamp's firing from South Carolina, two notable Gamecocks have already opted out of for the remainder of the season.
Starting cornerbacks Israel Mukuamu and Jaycee Horn both announced they would forego the second half of the 2020 season to focus on NFL Draft preparation.
The two key South Carolina defenders announced their decisions this week. The loss of these two corners is a major hit to the South Carolina secondary.
Mukuama likely wasn't going to return to the field this season. The junior aggravated a serious groin injury he's battled all year in the first half of the Ole Miss game last week. But, with Mukuama's official decision to step away from the squad, the Gamecocks lose the chance to bring back their best defensive player.
The cornerback earned second-team All-SEC honors last year. The star corner had a monster year in 2019, recording 59 tackles and four interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. Some analysts have him as a fringe first-round draft pick in this year's draft.
The Gamecock's defensive stud took to Twitter to announce his decision on Tuesday afternoon.
“With great humility, gratitude and excitement, I’m announcing that I will forego the rest of the season to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft,” Mukuamu wrote. “As I go forward, I take the entire Gamecock family and community with me and will strive to make you proud.”
Mukuama made his announcement in the wake of a similar decision from his fellow South Carolina corner Jaycee Horn.
Horn announced his choice to opt out on Monday evening. The junior DB will also be preparing for the draft.
"The opportunity to play SEC football was a childhood dream that the University of South Carolina helped come true," Horn wrote on Twitter. "I am forever grateful for that. During these three years, there have been ups and downs, but USC has helped me create a lot of bonds and memories that I will cherish and hold for a lifetime. I am honored and words can't express how blessed I am to have played for this university. Thank you to all of the REAL fans for supporting me even when times were tough."
Horn has amassed 101 tackles over his two and a half years with the Gamecocks. The three-year starter had a solid year in 2020, recording 16 tackles and two interceptions.
It's been a whirlwind week for the South Carolina. With a record of 2-5, the Gamecocks will look to collect just their third win of the season as they take the field without Muschamp and their two stars in the secondary for the first time.
USC takes on Missouri under the lights in Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. E.T.