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Da'Ron Payne: Alabama vs. Clemson 2018 Sugar Bowl

Five Alabama Juniors Declare For 2018 NFL Draft

Five Alabama football players announced on Thursday they will forego their senior seasons to officially declare for the 2018 NFL Draft.

Alabama Players Declare for 2018 NFL Draft news

Defensive backs Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison and running back Bo Scarbrough all decided to leave a year of eligibility for the NFL public in a press conference.

“It’s certainly a time of year when people have to make decisions about their future,” coach Nick Saban said Thursday. “We’ve got some young men here today that have done a fantastic job for the University of Alabama. Not only in what they’ve been able to accomplish on the field but the way they’ve represented the university, the football program, off the field as well.

“These guys have had outstanding careers here. Won two SEC championships and two national championships and all these guys have made tremendous contributions to the team, the team’s success and the internal sort of leadership that goes with having championship-type teams.”

The Crimson Tide defeated Georgia to win the national championship in overtime Monday night.

Wide receiver Calvin Ridley had already announced his decision to turn pro, while defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne will reportedly leave early, too.

Among the juniors who will return to play for Alabama in 2018 are running back Damien Harris and defensive end Isaiah Buggs. 

A unanimous All-American, Fitzpatrick recorded 60 tackles this season, and also contributed eight tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, eight pass breakups and three interceptions.

“The best three years of my life have been at the University of Alabama,” said Fitzpatrick. “Me and my family have been through a whole lot of highs and lows. We rebuilt our homes, rebuilt our lives and centered our lives around Christ. We’ve accomplished a lot together, a lot of things that not many people can say they’ve accomplished as a family and as a unit.”

“We’ve won two national championships together and I’ve attended one of the greatest universities in the world. I’ve been coached by some of the greatest coaches, coach Saban and the rest of the coaching staff and I’ve played with some of the greatest players, including Ronnie, the last couple of years, I’ve done a whole lot. I’ve been out of the country on mission trips, spreading the word. We’ve won national championships and SEC championships.”

“After all that, I think it’s best for me and my family for me to pursue my career in the NFL. It was an honor and a blessing to be part of this university. I’m forever grateful. Y’all gave me a whole lot of love, a lot of appreciation, a lot of blessings. I just want to say thank you, God bless and Roll Tide.”

Scarbrough grappled with several injuries throughout his career, but ultimately rushed for 596 yards and eight touchdowns on 124 carries in 2017 and 1,512 yards and 20 touchdowns since enrolling as a former 5-star recruit.

Ridley, another former 5-star recruit, caught 224 passes for 2,781 yards and 19 touchdowns during his three-year career in Tuscaloosa. This season, he had 63 receptions for 967 yards and five scores.

Payne delivered stellar performances in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Clemson and in the CFP national title game. The large defensive tackle posted 102 career tackles, three sacks and two total touchdowns.

Draft-eligible players must declare for the event by Jan. 15, although they have until Jan. 19 to withdraw their names from consideration and be permitted to return to their respective schools.

 

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Written by Pablo Mena

Writer and assistant editor for usports.org. NY Giants and Rangers fan. Film and TV enthusiast (especially Harry Potter and The Office) and lover of foreign languages and cultures.

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