One of the top defensive players in college football is turning pro, with UGA football standout Roquan Smith announcing on Monday he will be forgoing his final year of eligibility to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft.
Smith, who earned the Dick Butkus award as the nation’s best linebacker and led the Bulldogs defense with 137 tackles, is viewed as a potential first-round pick.
The linebacker capped off his college career with a national championship appearance, after being named MVP of the SEC Championship Game and Rose Bowl.
“As you know this is somewhat of a crossroads for me. I’ve had discussions with coaches and family and a lot of thought and prayer,” Smith said in a statement, via the Telegraph.
“The decision to leave is not easy but I know it is the right one. Georgia will always be my school and my home and I sincerely wish all the best to the coaches, staff, and players as they continue to reach higher goals in the years to come.”
Smith added to his statement in a lengthy post on Instagram which read:
“My decision to enter the draft was not an easy one but after a lot of research and conversations, I concluded it’s the better decision. Obtaining a degree is a dream of mine as well and I have laid out a plan that will allow me to finish my degree while fulfilling my dream to play in the NFL. I have learned so much as a student-athlete. I value all the knowledge gained and every memory made. I cannot verbally express how grateful and honored I am to have been a student and football player at UGA. I can never thank my coaches, my professors and fans for all their support. I will miss my teammates and playing at Sanford Stadium but know that I will always be welcomed back to support current and future Dawgs in one of the most electrifying stadiums in football. Again, thanks so much to everyone who has made this an amazing journey!”
The 2018 NFL Draft takes place April 26-28.