South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst has decided to skip his final year of eligibility with the Gamecocks in order to enter the 2018 NFL Draft.

Hurst, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound junior who joined South Carolina as a walk-on after spending two years in the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system, is the Gamecocks second-leading receiver with 41 catches for 518 yards and two touchdowns. He also has seven carries for 37 yards and one touchdown this season.

Hurst, 24, announced his decision Thursday on social media with a poster headlined, “Thank you Gamecock Nation.”

“I have been searching for the right way to announce my decision without being a distraction to my team during the season, but after many questions I wanted the announcement to come from me personally,” Hurst wrote. “After sitting down with my family and coach (Will) Muschamp I have decided to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft after this season.”

Hurst plans to play in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 when South Carolina (8-4) faces Michigan (8-4) in Tampa, Fla., at noon, according to a source.