South Carolina junior tight end Hayden Hurst, a 2017 First-Team All-SEC selection by the AP and SEC Coaches, announced on Thursday he will forgo his senior season with the Gamecocks and enter the 2018 NFL Draft process. 

"After sitting down with my family and Coach Muschamp I have decided to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft after this season," Hurst said in a statement. "This is one of the hardest choices I have ever had to make because of how special South Carolina is to me. This university has completely changed my life and leaving next month will be extremely hard, but I am on to pursuing my next dream and representing Gamecock Nation whenever I end up." 

A former professional baseball player, Hurst was a walk-on to the Gamecocks football team prior to the 2015 season. Over the past three seasons he has continually progressed to become one of the top tight ends in the nation. This season Hurst played and started all 12 games for the Gamecocks and was the team's second-leading receiver with 41 receptions and 518 yards, becoming the third tight end in program history to record over 1,000 receiving yards. His 89 career receptions at tight end (97 total) are the most in program history, surpassing Danny Smith's 78. 

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