COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina linebacker Ernest Jones is declaring for the NFL draft.

The 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior from Waycross, Georgia has led the Gamecocks in tackles the last two seasons. He announced on social media Tuesday he was leaving South Carolina to enter the NFL draft.

Jones is the third defensive starter in the past few weeks to move on to the NFL. Defensive backs Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu both opted out of the final three games of the season after coach Will Muschamp was let go last month.

South Carolina wrapped up its season with six straight defeats to finish 2-8.

Jones had a team-high 97 tackles in 2019 and followed that up with 86 stops this season.

Jones thanked teammates, coaches and South Carolina fans for his three seasons with the program.

“As a kid, I always dreamed of how it would be to play in the NFL,” Jones said.

South Carolina hired Shane Beamer to take over for Muschamp this past Sunday.


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