College football notes: Gamecocks losing star Jeffery to NFL; Ball is returning

South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery is giving up his senior season for the NFL.

The 6-foot-4, 229-pounder said Thursday he will enter the NFL Draft this spring.

Jeffery set the school record with 3,042 yards receiving over three seasons and capped his career as the Capital One Bowl MVP in the Gamecocks' 30-13 victory over Nebraska.

Jeffery is considered a first-round prospect. He doesn't have game-breaking speed but has the ability to catch nearly everything thrown his way — sometimes with only one arm.

Jeffery's best season came as a sophomore when he broke school single-season marks with 88 catches and 1,517 yards. He had eight games with 100-or-more yards in catches.

■ South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore is also giving up his final season to go pro.

Gilmore had an interception and five tackles in the bowl victory, and led the Gamecocks with four interceptions this year. He had eight interceptions and 181 tackles in three seasons.

Around the nation

Wisconsin: Running back Montee Ball is coming back for his senior season.

Ball said NFL evaluators informed him he would likely be a third-round draft pick and he thinks he can improve his stock. He acknowledged he's taking a gamble that he will make it through his senior season without a serious injury or a drop-off in his statistics.

Ball will be hard-pressed to improve on his junior year.

He scored 39 touchdowns this season, tying Barry Sanders' NCAA record. He finished the year with 1,923 yards rushing and 2,229 all-purpose yards, second in Wisconsin history only to Ron Dayne's 2,242 yards in 1996.

Western Kentucky: Former Seneca High star quarterback DaMarcus Smith plans to play at Western Kentucky, the Bowling Green Daily News reports.

Smith originally committed to Louisville before switching to Central Florida. But Smith was reportedly never cleared to play at UCF by the NCAA.

Georgia Tech: Stephen Hill is bypassing his senior season to enter the NFL Draft.

Hill caught 28 passes for 820 yards, including five for touchdowns, this season.

Oklahoma: Quarterback Landry Jones will come back for his senior year. Jones is the Sooners' all-time leading passer with 12,389 yards.

Michigan State: Defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, a first-team Associated Press All-American this season, is going pro.