Sanders Leaving Early For NFL

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By Sports Department

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) -- The news on social media wasn't what Gamecock fans were hoping to see Tuesday night.

Just a few hours before the midnight deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL Draft, Ace Sanders announced via Twitter his intentions to skip his senior season at Carolina. "Welcome to the real world," Sanders tweeted about 9:20 p.m. "Time to make it happen!"

The Outback Bowl MVP made his intentions a little cleared about 45 minutes later. "Day full of emotion," Sanders said on Twitter. "Thank you everyone apart of #Gamecock Nation. I appreciate everything you did for me. #TearsOfJoy I love you guys!!!"

Sanders set the USC career record for punt return yardage during a stellar junior season that peaked with 6 catches for a career-high 119 yards and a touchdown in the Gamecocks' 27-17 win against Clemson, and then a 63-yard punt return for TD and two TD catches in the Outback Bowl, tying Ryan Brewer's USC record for most TDs in a bowl game. He led Carolina on the season with 45 catches and 9 TD catches. He was second on the team with 531 receiving yards.

Tuesday night's news seemed to be a change of heart for Sanders. The night of the BCS title game, Sanders posted a picture of himself in a Gamecock uniform with the caption, "1 more year."

Underclassmen have 72 hours after Tuesday night's midnight deadline to change their minds and return to college if they don't hire an agent.

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