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Jan. 19, 2013

University of South Carolina junior wide receiver/punt returner Ace Sanders has elected to forego his final year of eligibility and will enter the 2013 NFL Draft.

“Ace had an exceptional game in the Outback Bowl,” said head coach Steve Spurrier, “and he felt like maybe it was his time, he was as hot as he was going to be. We’re all for Ace and we wish him the best.”

Sanders, a 5-8, 175-pounder from Bradenton, Fla., earned second-team All-America honors and garnered Southeastern Conference’s co-Special Teams Player of the Year according to the league’s coaches during the 2012 campaign.

Sanders led the SEC and ranked fourth in the nation with a 15.13-yard punt return average, returning 28 punts for a school record 429 yards and two touchdowns. He was named the MVP of the Outback Bowl after catching nine passes for 92 yards and a pair of touchdowns and returning a punt 63 yards for another score in the Gamecocks’ 33-28 win over Michigan.

As a receiver, Sanders led the 2012 Gamecocks with 45 receptions for 531 yards and nine scores. A versatile performer, he also rushed three times for one yard, completed 1-of-2 passes for 16 yards and a touchdown and returned one kickoff for 16 yards. He tied for second on the team with 66 points and was second on the squad in all-purpose yards with 977.

Sanders played in 40 games, starting 21, during his three-year career in Columbia. He caught 99 passes for 1,230 yards and 13 touchdowns, rushed 12 times for 79 yards, completed 2-of-4 passes for 19 yards and two touchdowns, and returned 53 punts for 594 yards, an 11.2-yard average, with three touchdowns.