South Carolina has lost one of its receiving targets for the 2012 season.
The school announced Monday that sophomore Bruce Ellington will give up football and stick to basketball. Here's what Ellington said in a release through the school:
"Basketball's always been my first love. After giving it a lot of thought, this is the decision I've made. If you want to be great at something you have to commit to it full-time. I appreciate Coach Spurrier for giving me an opportunity to play football at South Carolina. It was a great experience, but right now I want to focus on basketball. I also want to thank all the fans for their support throughout my time in Columbia."
Last season, Ellington registered 707 all-purpose yards for the Gamecocks, gaining 211 receiving yards, 106 rushing yards and 390 yards on kick returns. He also earned freshman All-SEC honors and scored two touchdowns on the season as well.
Ellington's biggest impact came on the basketball court, where he averaged 11 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game during the 2011-12 season. He posted 12 double-figure scoring games on the year, while leading or sharing the team lead in scoring 11 times and in assists 16 times. In two seasons, Ellington has scored 649 career points (12.0 points per game) and averaged 3.2 assists per game.
No matter how talented athletes are today, it's so difficult to balance two sports at once, especially when it comes to trying to play both SEC football and basketball. There is just too much to put on someone's plate. Ellington had his moments, but it was clear that he needed more time in the offseason to develop his game as a wide out and that was going to be tough with basketball in the spring.
The Gamecocks will now need more help at wide receiver. That puts more pressure on Ace Sanders, who stands just 5-7 inches, and South Carolina's big group of unproven wide receivers. Outside of Sanders and Alshon Jeffery last year, no other receiver/tight end caught 20 or more passes. Only two receivers — Sanders and Nick Jones — return with 10 or more catches.
South Carolina will have to dip into its freshman class, which signed three receivers, meaning four-star signee Shaq Roland will get even more attention from the coaches during the offseason. He was South Carolina's top member of its 2012 class, so regardless of if Ellington would have returned, Roland was going to get a chance at major playing time this fall.