Thursday night marks the beginning of the 2013 NFL Draft, and fans of the Gamecocks are wondering where some of their favorite players will end up playing professional ball this fall.
With that being said, let's take a look at a few of the players whose NFL dreams may be about to come true.
Where does Marcus Lattimore land?
Among the many Gamecocks who declared for this year's Draft, running back Marcus Lattimore's shadow looms large.
Following two grotesque knee injuries, Lattimore's draft stock has tumbled. Scouts and coaches are worried about the health and durability of the former Gamecocks workhorse.
Just don't tell that to Lattimore. Since injuring his other knee in October 2012 during the game against the Tennessee Volunteers, Lattimore has been extremely active in rehabilitating his knee.
Lattimore has even expressed hopes that he'll be ready by the first week of the NFL season.
"Dr. Andrews actually said, 'You're going to shock the world,' so I quoted him. And I really do believe I'll be ready," said Lattimore in a previous interview on the NFL Network. "I'm going at a rate that I knew I could, and I feel great. When I start jogging and I get a little bit stronger, I know it's game on then."
The Draft prognosticators have been mostly unclear on which round Lattimore will land. Liberal estimates say he could go in the third round while conservative estimates believe he'll go in the later rounds.
Speedster Ace Sanders could be a late round surprise.
Ace Sanders was not a big-time prospect for South Carolina when he first arrived. However, coach Steve Spurrier put faith in his smaller receiver, and he quickly began to shine in the Head Ball Coach's offense.
While Sanders made plenty of circus catches for Spurrier's quarterbacks, the wide receiver also made his presence known as a deadly special teams returner.
Sanders was named 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.
Draft gurus believe Sanders is a fourth round pick.
DeVonte Holloman could "outplay his draft position"
For his final season in Columbia, DeVonte Holloman played the "spur" position in coach Lorenzo Ward's defense. In 2012, he recorded 55 tackles, two sacks, and three interceptions.
Holloman was also noticed by national football analysts and was added to the preseason Butkus Award list.
"Holloman could be a solid Saturday draft pick as a Sam 'backer, and a likely candidate to outplay his draft position," said the analysts from NFL.com.
DJ Swearinger is a solid second or third rounder.
If you're a South Carolina fan, you will likely never forget Swearinger's hit on Andre Ellington during the annual Battle of the Palmetto State.
Draft gurus remember it as well, but they are also looking at Swearinger's larger body of work as the captain of the Gamecocks' defense.
"He has played both free and strong safety, and his good performances as a
spot duty at corner against big receivers suggests he has the potential
to cover NFL tight ends in coverage well," said NFL analysts.
Of course, these are only a few of at least seven Gamecocks who are hoping to play in the NFL next year.
The 2013 NFL Draft begins at 8 p.m. on the NFL Network and ESPN.
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