Danielle Hunter has officially declared for the NFL Draft.
Speculation started Monday that the junior defensive end would forego his final season of eligibility of LSU. First reported by WBRZ, Hunter originally denied that he had given an indication on his decision to media. But as the day went on, several congratulatory messages from Hunter's LSU teammates provided the signs that Hunter's college career was finished.
Hunter finally confirmed the news himself Friday with a post on Twitter:
Hunter did receive a draft grade from the NFL, though the results have not been released. Projections have him landing anywhere from the late first round to the third round. ESPN's Todd McShay did say earlier in the week that he thinks Hunter should've returned for his senior year.
He was widely considered one of the underclassmen most likely to return for a senior season, stressing an importance of receiving a degree and improving his pass rush. Reports over the last few weeks indicated that Hunter was leaning toward staying, but the temptations of the NFL proved too much for him to ignore.
Hunter broke into the starting lineup four games into the 2013 season after playing in 12 games the previous year. Hunter never relinquished his starting role after notching eight tackles against Auburn in 2013.
Hunter tied for third on the team with 73 tackles, 30 of which were unassisted. He led the team with 13.5 tackles for loss and also had 1.5 sacks. He broke up six passes at the line of scrimmage, forced a fumble and recovered another one that he returned for a touchdown against Mississippi State.
He'll finish his LSU career with 142 tackles, 21 for loss and 4.5 sacks.
Hunter becomes the third LSU underclassmen to declare for the NFL Draft, joining Jalen Collins and Kwon Alexander. The Tigers still await final decisions from Jalen Mills, Vadal Alexander and Jerald Hawkins, though most consider them likely to stay.
LSU will have to replace both of its starting defensive ends from 2014, also losing senior Jermauria Rasco. Tashawn Bower received the most playing time as a backup, while true freshmen Deondre Clark and Sione Teuhema saw the field as well. LSU has one defensive end committed in the 2015 class — Edna Karr's Isaiah Washington — with several other targets still on the board.
LSU DE Danielle Hunter declares for NFL Draft
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