Posted 06/01/2016 at 12:26 PM
Will Muschamp announced Tuesday that senior linebacker Skai Moore will miss the 2016 season and undergo neck-infusion surgery this Friday. Moore, who considered leaving school early for the 2016 NFL Draft, will be redshirted and return for the 2017 campaign unless he elects to go pro.
The latter scenario seems unlikely, especially given that he decided to come back when he was healthy. Moore will need to prove to NFL scouts that he's still the same player after surgery. The procedure will keep him out of contact drills for six months.
Moore has led the Gamecocks in tackles three years in a row. In 2015, he had 111 tackles, four interceptions, three forced fumbles, two sacks and four passes broken up. He was the catalyst in a season-opening win over North Carolina by a 17-13 count, producing three interceptions. Two of those picks came in the end zone, including a game-clinching interception in the final minute.
South Carolina now returns only four starters from a defense that finished last in the SEC in 2015. With this injury, Phil Steele dropped USC from No. 100 to No. 108 in his team experience rankings for 2016.
Muschamp told the media assembled in SanDestin on Tuesday at the SEC annual spring meetings, "He'll be fine. This is not a career-threatening situation. This is a very common procedure for a herniated disc. It’s unfortunate that it didn’t heal on its own.”
South Carolina opens the season at Vanderbilt on Sept. 1 in a Thursday night game. 5Dimes has the Gamecocks listed as 2.5-point favorites over the Commodores.