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December 16, 2008
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Emanuel Cook has left the building.
And, chances are, he's not coming back.
Cook, South Carolina's leading tackler the past two seasons, will likely be declared academically ineligible when final grades are released within the next several days and won't play in the Outback Bowl, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said.
"Right now, it appears Emanuel Cook didn't make it," Spurrier said. "He's the only one right now that appears didn't pass the six hours. So, right now, he will not play in the [Outback Bowl].
"It's disappointing that he did not think of his teammates or his university. It's not hard to pass six hours. He didn't put much effort in, it appears. That's why he's not playing. It appears right now he's played his last game [at South Carolina]."
Asked if he was surprised by the turn of events, Spurrier quickly responded "not completely."
Cook, seen walking alongside his teammates coming off the practice field, attended a portion of practice on Tuesday afternoon. Spurrier, however, said he does not consider the junior to be part of the team any longer.
"If he didn't pass six hours, he's really no longer on the team," Spurrier said. "Everybody has to pass at least six hours to be out here."
Spurrier declined comment when asked if he thought Cook had been looking ahead to the NFL draft, saying only that "it's disappointing." Asked later if Cook had played his last game for South Carolina, the coach said, "That's correct."
Cook filed papers with the NFL Player Advisory Committee seeking advice on where he would be drafted if he came out early.
"He sort of tossed it in midway through [the semester] from what I understand," Spurrier said. "That was disappointing."
Cook compiled 87 tackles during the regular season, including 62 solo stops, one quarterback hurry and one fumble recovery, which occurred in a key spot during the win at Ole Miss.
Overall, he concluded his career with 226 tackles, 179 solo, three interceptions and 13 tackles for loss, but none this year. The Riviera Beach, Fla., native was regarded by most opposing coaches as one of South Carolina's most feared tacklers and run stoppers.
The loss of Cook comes at a bad time for South Carolina since Iowa's offense is centered around powerful running back Shonn Greene, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Even with Cook, the Hawkeyes were expected to quickly test the Gamecocks' ability to stop their productive running game, one of the best in the nation.