Texas's Lil'Jordan Humphrey, Oklahoma's Marquise Brown, Penn State's Miles Sanders and others have announced an early departure from their college programs to prepare for the 2019 NFL Draft.

By Emily Caron
November 26, 2018

Several notable names in the world of college football will cut their collegiate careers short to prepare for the 2019 NFL draft. Whether the decision to leave was due to injury, as a precautionary measure or to simply have more time to prepare for their professional future, here are the top players to announce an early departure from their college teams to prepare:

Tyron Johnson – Oklahoma State, WR

Johnson tripled his production in his junior season, catching 53 passes in 2018 after hauling in just 18 as a sophomore. The New Orleans native found the end zone eight times in 2018, tallying 846 yards from scrimmage. Johnson was named offensive MVP of the Cowboys' Liberty Bowl victory over Missouri on Dec. 31 after he caught seven passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. 

Devin White – LSU, LB

White, a third-year defender at LSU, recorded back-to-back 100-plus tackle campaigns. In 2018, the junior middle linebacker was also credited for three sacks, six passes defended, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. The two-time All-American became the first linebacker in LSU history to win the Dick Butkus Award, finishing the year with a team-leading 123 stops.

T.J. Hockenson – Iowa, TE

After two seasons with the Hawkeyes, Hockenson announced that he will forgo the rest of his collegiate career to enter the 2019 NFL draft. The Mackey Award winner had 49 catches for 760 yrds in 2018, becoming the first tight end to lead Iowa in receiving yards since 1992. 

Mack Wilson – Alabama, LB

Following in the footsteps of several of his Crimson Tide teammates, Wilson will enter the draft after accumulating 71 tackles, two interceptions and a sack in his junior season. He helped lead an Alabama defense that was ranked fourth in points allowed per game and 10th in yards allowed. 

 

Deionte Thompson – Alabama, S

The junior All-American adds to the long list of Alabama players declaring early for the draft. He's rated as one of the top safeties in the class and projected by many to be a first-round selection. He finished the 2018 season with 78 tackles, two interceptions and three forced fumbles. 

 

Saivion Smith – Alabama, DB

The junior transfer cornerback will enter the draft after starting in 12 games for Alabama this season. Smith finished the year with 60 tackles and three interceptions while playing in 15 games.

Irv Smith – Alabama, TE

Smith, a junior, tallied 44 catches for 710 yards and seven touchdowns this season, which is the most for a tight end in school history. His father, Irv Smith Sr., played in the NFL for seven years and was selected in the first round of the 1993 draft by the New Orleans Saints.

Quinnen Williams – Alabama, DL

Williams announced his decision to enter the draft at a press conference with teammates Jonah Williams and Josh Jacobs. The redshirt sophomore defensive tackle had 71 tackles and 19.5 tackles for loss this season to distinguish himself as one of the best defensive players in the country this year. He won the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to college football's best interior lineman.

Jonah Williams – Alabama, OL

The junior was also a finalist for the Outland Trophy. Williams surrendered only two sacks during the regular season and SEC title game.

Josh Jacobs – Alabama, RB

Jacobs, a junior, led the Tide in rushing touchdowns with 11 on 120 carries and was Alabama's second-leading rusher with 640 yards. He tied wide receiver Jerry Jeudy with 14 total touchdowns to lead the team.

Clelin Ferrell – Clemson, DE

Ferrell will leave Death Valley with a season of eligibility remaining after helping the Tigers capture their second national title in three seasons. The redshirt-junior had 20 tackles for a loss and 11.5 sacks this past season.

Dexter Lawrence – Clemson, DT

Lawrence will leave Clemson a year early after serving a suspension for both of the Tigers' College Football Playoff games after testing positive for the banned substance ostarine. His ban, if upheld, could have lasted for as long as a year.

The junior tackle is widely projected to be a first-round pick in this year's draft. 

Tre Lamar – Clemson, LB

Junior linebacker Tre Lamar announced his decision to declare for the draft just two days after his Tigers took down Alabama for the national championship. Lamar recorded 79 tackles, 3 sacks and one interception in 14 games played in 2018.

"I am so thankful for my entire time at Clemson," Lamar wrote. "And though I may wear a new uniform going forward, I will always remain a Clemson Tiger."

Trayvon Mullen – Clemson, CB

Cornerback Trayvon Mullen will also depart from Clemson after his junior season, announcing his decision to forgo his senior season at the same time as Lamar. The talented cornerback is projected to go as one of the top corners in the 2019 NFL draft.

"I want Clemson to know that I will always be a part of the Clemson Family," Mullen said. "To the secondary, y'all hold it down!" 

Lil'Jordan Humphrey – Texas, WR

Longhorns receiver Lil'Jordan Humphrey will forgo his senior season at Texas to declare for the NFL draft. The junior from Southlake, Texas finished the 2018 season with 86 receptions fro 1,176 yards and nine touchdowns, becoming just the ninth player in program history to post 1,000 receiving yards in a single season. 

"I loved my time at UT," Humphrey said. "I'm going to represent UT on and off the field as I move forward in my career to take care of my family and all the communities that I can. Hook 'Em Horns for life!!!!"

Marquise Brown – Oklahoma, WR

The Sooners star wide receiver spent two seasons in Norman before deciding to declare for the draft. Brown announced his decision after Oklahoma was eliminated from the CFB Playoffs by Alabama. 

The junior from Hollywood, Fla. made 75 receptions for 1,318 yards and ten touchdowns in 2018.

Miles Sanders – Penn State, RB

Sanders had a breakout season after Saquon Barkley left for the NFL. Sanders rushed for 1,274 yards and nine touchdowns and added 24 catches in helping Penn State to a 9–4 record this season.

Hakeem Butler – Iowa State, WR

Iowa State's star wide receiver has decided to forgo his senior season to declare for the NFL draft. Butler made a team-high 60 receptions for nine touchdowns while setting a single-season school record for receiving yards with 1,318.

"The jersey may change, but I will always bleed cardinal and gold," Butler wrote on Twitter.

Taylor Rapp – Washington, S

Washington's All-American safety Taylor Rapp announced his decision to forgo his senior season at Washington to enter the 2019 NFL draft. Rapp suffered a hip injury during the Pac-12 championship game and did not play in the Rose Bowl against Ohio State.

He recorded 171 tackles, 7.0 sacks and seven interceptions during his time with the Huskies.

Shareef Miller – Penn State, DL

Penn State defensive lineman Shareef Miller annouced his decision to declare for the draft after the Nittany Lion's loss to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl.

The junior defensive end made 12 starts this season for Penn State, tallying 38 tackles and 7.5 sacks.

D. K. Metcalf – Ole Miss, WR

Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf announced on Twitter he will forego his final two years of college eligibility to turn pro. 

The 20-year-old Oxford native finished his college career with 67 receptions, 1,228 yards and 14 touchdowns in 21 games over three seasons before a neck injury sustained during the Rebels' Oct. 13 game against Arkansas sidelined the star receiver for the remainder of the season.

Rodney Anderson – Oklahoma, RB

Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson also decided to forgo his senior season to declare for the draft after sustaining a season-ending knee injury vs. UCLA on Sept. 8. Anderson announced his decision in early November after a stellar sophomore campaign.

Injuries plagued Anderson's first two seasons but he finished his breakout 2017 season with team highs of 1,161 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns, adding 281 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns.

Greedy Williams – LSU, CB

Williams announced that he will declare for the 2019 NFL Draft following his redshirt-sophomore season at LSU. Considered by many to be the top defensive back prospect in this year's class, the 6'3", 185-pound corner was named a Thorpe Award semifinalist this season. Last year, he led the SEC with seven interceptions.

Nick Bosa – Ohio State, DE

Ohio State star defensive end Nick Bosa withdrew from the Buckeyes program in October after suffering an abdominal injury on Sept. 15 against TCU. Bosa was ruled out “indefinitely” after surgery before declaring his decision not to return to Ohio State and instead focus on preparing for the draft once he is cleared medically.

Ed Oliver – Houston, DT

Houston defensive lineman Ed Oliver, a likely top choice in the 2019 NFL draft, will sit out the Cougars' upcoming bowl game to focus on preparation for his professional career. Oliver announced his intention to depart from the program following his junior season last spring, but his decision to end his season early was announced on Friday, Nov. 30.

During his last game with the Cougars on Nov. 23, Houston suffered a 52-31 loss to Memphis and Oliver aggravated a previous knee injury in the defeat.

Rashan Gary – Michigan, DE

Rashan Gary released a video in which he thanked Michigan and announced his plans to declare for the NFL draft. He finishes his Wolverines career with 10.5 sacks and 134 tackles.

N'Keal Harry – Arizona State, WR

Harry plans to enter the NFL draft after a season in which he recorded 73 receptions for 1,088 yards and nine touchdowns. He has reportedly signed with an agent and will sit out the Sun Devils' Las Vegas Bowl matchup against Fresno State in order to focus on prepartion for the NFL.

Will Grier – West Virginia, QB

Grier will not play in the Mountaineers' Camping World Bowl game against Syracuse to focus on preparing for the 2019 NFL draft. The senior quarterback threw for 3,864 yards and 37 touchdowns and added three scores on the ground in 2018 as a season-long Heisman contender.

Tyree Jackson – Kentucky, QB

Jackson entered the 2019 NFL Draft despite reportedly receiving an evaluation suggesting he remain in school one more season. The 6'7", 245-pound Kentucky product was named 2018 MAC Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 3,131 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2018.

Jace Sternberger – Texas A&M, TE

Sternberger announced his plans to forgo his senior season to enter the NFL draft after playing in the Aggies' 52–13 Gator Bowl victory over NC State. The junior led Texas A&M with 48 catches for 832 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Darrell Henderson – Memphis, RB

Henderson announced on Twitter that he plans to forego his senior year at Memphis to enter the 2019 NFL draft. He was the nation's second-leading rusher with 1,909 yards on 214 carries. Henderson also lead the FBS with 25 total touchdowns and averaged 8.9 yards per carry.

Noah Fant – Iowa, TE

Fant earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2018. He led all tight ends in yards per catch in 2017, registering 11 touchdowns.

Brian Burns – Florida State, DE

Burns, considered one of the 2019 NFL class' top edge prospects, declared for the draft following three seasons at Florida State. During his junior season, he tallied 10 sacks and 15.5 total tackles for loss.

Kelvin Harmon – N.C. State, WR

Harmon declared early after recording 1,000-yard seasons in back-to-back seasons to finish his career at N.C. State. He caught 75 passes for 1,119 yards and six touchdowns during his junior year. Harmon will skip the Wolfpack's Gator Bowl matchup against Texas A&M.

Jawaan Taylor – Florida, OT

Taylor announced that he would enter the 2019 NFL draft following the Gators' win over Michigan in the Peach Bowl. As a freshman, Taylor garnered All-American honors as a freshman and was a three-year starter.

  

Dax Raymond – Utah State, TE

The Aggies junior will declare for the darft after catching 24 passes in nine games last season.

Justice Hill – Oklahoma State, RB

Hill was named an All-Big 12 First Teamer after rushing for 930 yards and nine touchdowns during his junior season in Stillwater. He announced he will sit out the Cowboys' Liberty Bowl matchup against Missouri in order to focus on preparation for the NFL draft. 

Dre'Mont Jones – Ohio State, DL/DT

Jones will play in the Rose Bowl with the Buckeyes before heading to the NFL draft. The junior tallied 8.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss this season.

Caleb Wilson – UCLA, TE

The 6'5" tight end hauled in 60 passes for 965 yards in 2018. Wilson torched Arizona State on Nov. 10, snagging a career-high 11 catches for 164 yards. 

Greg Little – Ole Miss, OT

The 6'6", 332-pound tackle was ranked as a five-star prospect and the best offensive lineman in the country in his recruiting class. Now, Little is projected as a first-round NFL pick.

Antoine Wesley – Texas Tech, WR

Wesley snagged 88 receptions for 1410 yards and nine touchdowns in his junior season, leading the Red Raiders in all three categories. The 6'6", 332-pound tackle was ranked as a five-star prospect and the best offensive lineman in the country in his recruiting class.

Alex Barnes – Kansas State, RB

Barnes led the Big 12 in rushing in 2018 with 1,355 yards and averaged 5.3 yards per carry. The junior also ran for 12 touchdowns.

Benny Snell — Kentucky, RB

Snell was a third-team AP All-American after running for 1,305 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2018, including a four-score game against Mississippi State. The 5'11" running back ran for 100 yards six different times as a junior and totaled 99 in a seventh game.

Devin Bush — Michigan, LB

Bush, a second-team AP All-American, had 79 total tackles, nine tackles for loss and five sacks for the Wolverines this season. The defense allowed only 4.39 yards per play, and ranked first in the NCAA in total defense. He will not play in the Peach Bowl against Florida due to a hip injury.

Jeffery Simmons – Mississippi State, DT

Simmons was named first-team All-SEC in 2018, leading the nation's No. 1 scoring defense. The junior led Mississippi State in tackles for loss at 15.5. He will play in the Bulldogs' bowl game against Iowa on Jan. 1. 

Diontae Johnson – Toledo, WR

Johnson was named the Mid-American Conference special teams player of the year and earned first-team All-MAC honors at WR. The junior caught 49 passes for 761 receiving yards and eight touchdowns this season.

Jachai Polite – Florida, DL

Polite will forgo his senior season at Florida to enter the NFL draft and work to make his Twitter handle and goal a reality: @RetireMoms. The junior defensive lineman recorded 11 sacks and 45 tackles this season. He also tied a school record for forced fumbles in a single season with six.

Daniel Jones – Duke, QB

The redshirt-junior quarterback threw for 2,674 yards and 22 touchdowns this season and added three scores on the ground. The former walk-on helped lead Duke to an 8–5 record this season.

Kaden Smith – Stanford, TE

The junior tight end will forgo his senior season to enter the NFL draft after playing in Stanford's 14–13 Sun Bowl victory over Pittsburgh. Smith recorded 47 catches for 635 yards and two touchdowns this season.

David Edwards – Wisconsin, OT

The redshirt-junior offensive tackle will skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft. His final game with the Badgers was a 35-3 win over Miami in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Cody Ford – Oklahoma, OG

The redshirt-junior left guard is not using his final year of eligibility and will enter the NFL draft. After breaking his fibula in the third game of his redshirt-freshman season, Ford has become one of the best offensive lineman in the nation.

JJ Arcega-Whiteside – Stanford, WR

The senior will enter the NFL draft after recording 63 catches with 1,059 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. Arcega-Whiteside's final game came in Stanford's 14–13 Sun Bowl victory.

Isaac Nauta – Georgia, TE

Nauta will skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft after he tallied 30 catches with 430 receiving yards and three touchdowns. His biggest game of the season came against Florida, where he had five catches for 73 yards.

Mecole Hardman Jr. – Georgia, WR

Hardman is another Georgia player skipping his senior season to enter the draft. The junior got off to a hot start this season by scoring one touchdown in each of the Bulldogs' first four games. He totaled 35 catches for 543 yards for with seven touchdowns for the year.

Riley Ridley – Georgia, WR

Hardman will also forgo his senior season after leading the Bulldogs with 43 catches for 559 yards and nine touchdowns this season. The junior had one of his best games of the year in Georgia's 28–21 loss to Texas in the Sugar Bowl with five catches for 61 yards.

Julian Love – Notre Dame, CB

Love tallied 63 tackles, three tackles for a loss, one interception and one quarterback hurry with the Fighting Irish this season. The junior had a rough final game of his college career after exiting the first half of Notre Dame's 30–3 Cotton Bowl loss to Clemson with a head injury. The All-American returned during the second half.

This post will be updated as players make announcements.

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