COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - For the second time in as many days, a South Carolina defensive back has opted not to play for the rest of the season to focus on the NFL Draft.
Israel Mukuamu made the announcement on social media on Tuesday afternoon that he would leave the team to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Mukuamu ends his junior campaign with 10 tackles and tied for the team lead with two interceptions.
On Monday, Jaycee Horn also opted to prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft. So far, four players have opted out of the remainder of the season for personal reasons or COVID-19. Interim head coach Mike Bobo noted that RJ Roderick and Makius Scott have also opted out.
“We didn’t get into it,” Bobo said. “The NCAA has granted people the option to opt-out. So, there’s really nothing you can do about it.”
Earlier in the year, Mark Fox, OrTre Smith, and Randrecous Davis also opted out.
During his press conference on Monday, Bobo mentioned that 2020 has been a long year for the players because of the circumstances. He believes it’s possible that could be a reason the players opted out.
“I can’t speak personally for each one of those guys because you don’t know exactly what’s going on with each individual,” Bobo said. “Now, there was communication with all these guys. It’s been a long year. It’s a different year and when it’s told to young kids that, ‘Hey, you don’t have to play this year. You can opt-out and it doesn’t count,’ it gives them a way out in my opinion.”
The loss of Horn and Mukuamu hurts the Gamecocks' secondary. However, Bobo isn’t sure we’ve seen the last of players opting out.
“I think this is it, but you never know,” Bobo said. “We’ve had communication with all the guys the last two days -- coaches individually, with their position groups, one-on-one, myself with a number of guys -- and I feel like these guys want to play and play for each other. Now, we’ve got to have a good week of practice to get ready to play Saturday night.”
Bobo added that there were no hard feelings toward players to decided to opt-out, but he wants the players who are staying with the team to focus on playing for each other.
“It’s about us,” Bobo said when recalling his message to the team on Tuesday morning. “That’s the message. I want guys that’s about us to take the field with. If we do that and we work hard and they lay it on the line, then, you can put your head down at night and go to sleep and have some peace about [how] you prepared them and you’ve got your guys out there that fought their tails off.”
South Carolina hosts Missouri at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium.