Harris, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound redshirt junior from Kansas City, announced his decision at a press conference at the Missouri Athletic Training Complex.
“I will forego my last year of eligibility and make myself eligible for the NFL Draft,” Harris told the assembled crowd, which included reporters, family, friends and teammates. “I feel like I’ve taken advantage of all the resources here at Mizzou, which is what every student-athlete should strive to do, and I’ve had complete success in doing so.”
Harris told reporters he received a second-round grade from the NFL Draft advisory board a year ago. He is set to graduate next semester.
The Kansas City native could be the Tigers’ eighth first-round pick since 2009, following Jeremy Maclin (2009), Ziggy Hood (2009), Sean Weatherspoon (2010), Aldon Smith (2011), Blaine Gabbert (2011), Sheldon Richardson (2013) and Shane Ray (2015). Missouri has also had five second-round picks during that time frame — William Moore (2009), Kony Ealy (2014), Justin Britt (2014), Markus Golden (2015) and Mitch Morse (2015).
The Tigers standout defensive end had a breakthrough season in 2015 when he had seven sacks, led the Southeastern Conference in tackles for loss (18.5) and earned second-team All-SEC accolades.
This season he had nine sacks, 12 tackles for loss, 10 quarterback hurries and finished second on the team with 61 tackles.
Harris ranks seventh on the school’s all-time list for sacks (18) and 12th in tackles for loss (34.5).
“Charles and I have had a few conversations about his future,” Missouri coach Barry Odom said in a statement. “I am extremely proud of his approach on a very big decision. Certainly, I wish we could have another year with Charles leading our program, but there’s no question in my mind that he’s ready for the next level.
“He knew the time would come to make a decision, but his primary focus was always this team and doing what he could to make himself better and to help his teammates and coaches. Charles was voted as a team captain, which shows the level of competitor he is and the respect he had on this team. We’re going to miss him, no doubt, but it’s time for him to take his talents to the NFL. We’ll be beaming with pride when we turn on the TV on Sundays and see Charles out there representing Mizzou.”
With Harris leaving, the Tigers will have to replace six starters — linebackers Michael Scherer and Donavin Newsom, cornerbacks Aarion Penton and John Gibson and defensive tackles Rickey Hatley — as well as reserve defensive tackle Josh Augusta next season.
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