Redshirt junior cornerback Jalen Collins announced Thursday that he will forego his final season of eligibility and test his luck with the professional ranks. He made his decision public on social media:
Collins saw his draft stock rise after reentering the starting lineup this season. Some projections have him as high as a second rounder, though he told reporters in advance of LSU's bowl game that he received a "stay in school" grade from NFL evaluators.
Collins played in all 13 games this season with seven starts, including each of the final four. He worked back into the starting lineup when Rashard Robinson became indefinitely suspended before the Alabama game on Nov. 8.
He finished second on the team with 10 passes defended and tied for the team lead with nine pass breakups. He also had an interception that sealed LSU's victory against Texas A&M in the season finale.
Collins played in all 39 games through the last three seasons, making his first start in 2012 as a redshirt freshman. He made two more starts in 2013 but fell out of the starting lineup in favor of true freshmen Tre'Davious White and Robinson. He'll finish his LSU career with 80 total tackles, 17 pass breakups and three interceptions.
His most notable performance of the 2014 season came against Alabama, when he was targeted several times while defending Biletnikoff Award winner Amari Cooper. Though Cooper still caught for 83 yards and a touchdown, Collins started getting national recognition that showed up in his rising draft projections.
Collins was considered the most likely of LSU's underclassmen to declare for the draft. He's the second to do so after Kwon Alexander put his name in the mix on Wednesday. Vadal Alexander, Danielle Hunter and Jerald Hawkins are the three other Tigers left to make a decision that received NFL Draft grades.