Wide receiver D.J. Neal transferring from Gamecocks

D.J. Neal caught eight passes for 104 yards last season as a freshman at South Carolina. (Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)

COLUMBIA — South Carolina is losing a promising young wide receiver who started three games for the Gamecocks last season.

D.J. Neal, a rising sophomore from Atlanta who caught eight passes for 104 yards last year, is transferring. USC confirmed the departure Tuesday night, after Neal thanked well-wishers on his Twitter feed and told the Columbia newspaper “I feel like I need to be in another environment and get off to a better start.”

ESPN rated Neal as a four-star prospect, the 44th-best player in Georgia and the No. 45 wide receiver nationally. He had offers from 20 Division I schools including Georgia, Tennessee, Clemson and Auburn, and was also a baseball prospect drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 32nd round of the 2015 Major League draft.

Neal played in nine games, and had his best outing in a four-reception, 49-yard effort against Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks are losing their top three pass-catchers from last season, including All-SEC wideout Pharoh Cooper, who led USC with 973 yards and eight touchdowns and left after his junior season for the NFL draft.