(STATS) - The Citadel is sustaining more hard hits in the offseason than it did winning back-to-back Southern Conference titles for the first time.
Two-time first-team All-America cornerback Dee Delaney's announcement Tuesday that he will leave after the spring semester for a graduate transfer season at Miami (Fla.) is especially damaging for The Citadel's 2017 outlook.
Previously, second-team All-America offensive lineman Isaiah Pinson announced he will surrender his final season of eligibility to pursue a pro career, and slotback Reggie Williams and defensive linemen Kevin Graham and Travis Johnson departed the program.
"This has been a tough decision for me, but I thought long and hard about it and feel like I am making the right decision for me. My family is behind my decision and also feels the same way," Delaney wrote in an open letter to the military school campus, published on its athletic department website.
"I will be transferring to the University of Miami to finish up my college football career. I am very grateful for everything I have learned here and will continue to grow as an athlete and person. The Citadel has truly helped me mature and become a better man. The things The Citadel has taught me will never be erased, and I can say have made me a better person. I hope everybody can be happy with the decision I have made and be behind me no matter what."
The 6-foot-1, 193-pound Delaney had been a part of The Citadel's spring practices before he pulled himself from them.
The NFL prospect, who started all 36 games of his Citadel career, is on track to receive his undergraduate degree in May. He made the STATS FCS All-America first team as a sophomore in 2015 when the Bulldogs earned a share of the SoCon championship and repeated on the first team last season while they won an outright championship under first-year coach Brent Thompson.
Delaney's 13 career interceptions are tied for second in Citadel history and his 32 passes defended rank fourth.
"The pursuit of Dee from one of the most visible and historic programs in college football is a testament to his work ethic and development over the last four years at The Citadel," Thompson said. "We were supportive of Dee while he came to this difficult decision, and we will be cheering for him next season."