The Jan. 15 deadline for underclassmen to decide if they want to return to college or declare for the 2018 NFL draft is fast approaching. With bowl season in the rear-view mirror and only the College Football Playoff title game remaining for the 2017 season, decisions from prominent players will be coming out left and right in the coming days.
This year, we’ll have a post every day — updated throughout the day — with the players who decide to pursue professional football.
Deontay Burnett, WR, USC: Burnett was USC’s top receiver in 2017, registering 86 catches for 1,114 yards and nine touchdowns on the year. Those totals gave him 152 catches for 1,897 yards and 16 scores over his three seasons with the Trojans.
USC WR @Deontay_Burnett has decided to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft.
Du’Vonta Lampkin, DT, Oklahoma: Lampkin, a 6-foot-4, 335-pound defensive tackle, is leaving Oklahoma after just his redshirt sophomore season. Lampkin started two games for the Sooners in 2017 and appeared in 12 games overall. In total, Lampkin played in 17 games and had 22 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and one sack.
Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State: In two seasons as a starter at outside linebacker for Ohio State, Jerome Baker combined for 155 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks and two interceptions.
Kevin Toliver, CB, LSU: Toliver started 18 games over the course of his three seasons at LSU, totaling 82 tackles, three tackles for loss and two interceptions. Toliver mainly played outside, but also lined up as a nickelback and safety for the Tigers.
Mike Hughes, CB, UCF: Hughes made the most of his only season at UCF. He began his career at North Carolina and spent a year in community college college before registering 49 tackles and four interceptions for the undefeated Knights this season. He also thrived as a kick returner, averaging 31.8 yards per kickoff return, 16.6 yards per punt return and returning three kicks (two kickoffs, one punt) for touchdowns.
Christian Sam, LB, Arizona State: After not suiting up in the Sun Bowl, Arizona State’s Christian Sam has announced his decision to declare for the draft as expected. Sam led the Sun Devils with 127 tackles this season while also adding 9.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and an interception. For his career, Sam had 240 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, seven sacks and three interceptions for his career.
— Christian C. Sam (@ShowinStatsSam) January 8, 2018
Tre’Quan Smith, WR, UCF: The leading receiver on UCF’s undefeated team is moving on. Tre’Quan Smith had 59 catches for 1,159 yards and 13 scores this year for the Knights, giving him 168 receptions for 2,748 yards and 22 scores for his career.
Jordan Akins, TE, UCF: Jordan Akins totaled 81 catches for 1,149 yards and eight touchdowns during his UCF career. Akins missed most of the 2015 season after tearing his ACL, but returned for 23 catches for 347 yards in 2016 and 32 catches for 515 yards this year.
Auden Tate, WR, Florida State: Auden Tate tied for the team lead in 40 receptions this season while leading the team with 10 touchdowns. His 548 yards was second on the Seminoles behind Nyqwan Murray. For his career, Tate totaled 65 catches for 957 yards and 16 scores.
— Auden Tate (@lil_t8te) January 6, 2018
Tarvarus McFadden, DB, Florida State: McFadden led the country with eight interceptions in 2016 for the Seminoles, but he did not pick off a pass this year. McFadden did register 10 pass breakups for Florida State this year along with 30 tackles.
To the most high I️ will forever be indebted and I will forever bleed garnet and gold!!!!! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/R2MAj9Sg16
— Teetime4️⃣ (@T_McFadden4) January 6, 2018
Ray Ray McCloud, WR, Clemson: McCloud had 49 catches for a career high 503 yards this season, giving him a total of 127 catches for 1,226 yards and four scores over three years. McCloud has also been a dynamic returner for the Tigers. He averaged 12.1 yards per punt return this season and brought one punt back for a TD.
"I am truly thankful for all the memories we share & I will always bleed orange & purple. I salute you all & GO TIGERS!" Proud & honored to announce that Ray-Ray McCloud III will be entering the 2018 @NFL Draft.
— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) January 7, 2018
Van Smith, DB, Clemson: Smith totaled 164 tackles, eight tackles for loss and four interceptions in three seasons at safety for Clemson. Smith was a second-team All-ACC selection in 2016.
"I just want to say thank you to the coaches, Clemson Football and the whole Clemson community." Excited for the next step for Van Smith as we announce that he will be entering the 2018 @NFL Draft.
— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) January 7, 2018
Khalil McKenzie, DT, Tennessee: The son of Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie is the third Tennessee player to declare, joining running back John Kelly and corner Rashaan Gaulden. McKenzie had 35 tackles as a junior and 24 tackles as a freshman. He missed most of his sophomore season due to injury.
Austin Roberts, TE, UCLA: Roberts totaled 35 receptions for 500 yards and three touchdowns in three seasons at UCLA. In 2017, Roberts had 19 catches for 220 yards and two scores.
Jessie Bates, DB, Wake Forest: Bates totaled 177 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and six interceptions over the last two seasons for the Demon Deacons. He had five interceptions in 2016 and returned two for touchdowns.
— Jessie Bates III (@jlbiii3) January 5, 2018
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