Three juniors from South Carolina’s football team – including the player who was expected to be the Gamecocks’ starting running back in 2016 – are leaving the program despite having another year of eligibility, coach Will Muschamp announced Wednesday.
Running back David Williams, wide receiver Jamari Smith and defensive back Jasper Sasser are all on track to graduate by May, according to a statement released by the school.
“We appreciate their contributions to the program and wish them the best in the future,” Muschamp said in the statement.
As graduates, the players will be immediately eligible at another FBS or FCS school if they choose to finish their careers elsewhere. None of the three is expected to enter the NFL Draft. None could be reached for comment Wednesday night.
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Williams’ departure is the most surprising. The one-time four-star prospect from Pennsylvania said prior to the team’s senior day game he planned to return for his senior season. However, Williams’ role diminished throughout the season, and he didn’t play in the 46-39 loss to South Florida in the Birmingham Bowl.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound running back entered fall camp No. 1 on the depth chart but immediately fell out of favor, dropping as low as fifth on the depth chart during preseason practice. He worked his way into the rotation, starting against East Carolina in Game 3 and UMass in Game 7.
He finished the year third on the team in rushing with 56 carries for 239 yards and three touchdowns. For his career, Williams had 188 carries for 794 yards and five touchdowns. He caught 27 passes for 264 yards in three years. His career-high in rushing came in his freshman season against Furman when he had 110 yards.
Smith’s plans to transfer were first reported by The Big Spur in November. The 5-foot- 10, 210-pound Florida native had 16 catches for 115 yards in his career.
Sasser posted a message on Twitter the morning of the Birmingham Bowl saying it would be his final game at South Carolina. The 6-foot, 210-pounder had nine career tackles, all coming this season.