published Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Nearly 30 SEC underclassmen entering NFL draft

In this Dec. 8, 2012, file photo, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel gestures as he talks to reporters after winning the Heisman Trophy in New York.
In this Dec. 8, 2012, file photo, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel gestures as he talks to reporters after winning the Heisman Trophy in New York.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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Five SEC football players who are putting their pro prospects on hold by coming back for their senior seasons:

CEDRIC OGBUEHI -- The Texas A&M right tackle is expected to move to left tackle for his senior year, replacing Jake Matthews.

ALVIN "BUD" DUPREE -- Kentucky's defensive end will be the league's top returner in sacks, having tallied seven this past season.

TREY DEPRIEST -- The Alabama linebacker totaled 65 tackles this past season and will assume C.J. Mosley's leadership role.

A.J. JOHNSON -- The only starter back among Tennessee's defensive front seven has racked up 324 tackles in his three-year career.

RAMIK WILSON -- Georgia's inside linebacker was a relative unknown before leading the SEC this past season with 133 tackles.

BIDDING FAREWELL

SEC players who have decided to forgo remaining eligibility for the NFL draft:

ALABAMA -- OT Cyrus Kouandjio, S HaHa Clinton-Dix, CB Vinnie Sunseri, LB Adrian Hubbard, DE Jeoffrey Pagan.

ARKANSAS -- None.

AUBURN -- TB Tre Mason, OT Greg Robinson.

FLORIDA -- CB Loucheiz Purifoy, CB Marcus Roberson, LB Ronald Powell.

GEORGIA -- None.

KENTUCKY -- None.

LSU -- TB Jeremy Hill, TB Alfred Blue, WR Odell Beckham, WR Jarvis Landry, OG Trai Turner, DT Ego Ferguson, DT Anthony Johnson.

OLE MISS -- WR Donte Moncrief.

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- None.

MISSOURI -- TB Henry Josey, DE Kony Ealy.

SOUTH CAROLINA -- DE Jadeveon Clowney, DT Kelcy Quarles, WR Bruce Ellington, CB Victor Hampton.

TENNESSEE -- OT Antonio Richardson.

TEXAS A&M -- QB Johnny Manziel, WR Mike Evans.

VANDERBILT -- WR Chris Boyd (dismissed from program in September).

Texas A&M's talented tandem of quarterback Johnny Manziel and receiver Mike Evans are forgoing their final two seasons of college eligibililty for the National Football League, but not everybody is leaving the high-powered Aggies.

Junior right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi announced last week that he was returning despite receiving a first-round grade from the NFL's draft advisory board.

"The NFL has always been a dream of mine," Ogbuehi posted on Twitter, "but I want to achieve that dream with my education and as much preparation as possible at my position."

Ogbuehi, who is expected to move to left tackle this year and replace Outland Trophy finalist Jake Matthews, may be the most notable Southeastern Conference underclassman who has elected to return for another season. Kentucky's defensive end tandem of Alvin "Bud" Dupree and Za'Darius Smith chose to come back along with linebacker tackling machines such as Tennessee's A.J. Johnson and Georgia's Ramik Wilson, but it's a list that pales to the 28 who have announced they are leaving the league early.

The deadline for college underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft is today, and Ole Miss junior safety Cody Prewitt had yet to announce as of Tuesday evening. Prewitt led the SEC this past season with six interceptions and earned All-America honors.

Manziel, Evans, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Alabama left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio lead a group of SEC underclassmen who could produce 10 or more first-round selections in May's NFL draft. The SEC had 12 first-round selections in the 2013 draft, and 11 of those (all but Alabama guard Chance Warmack) were underclassmen.

Ten of the 14 SEC schools will have players who are leaving early. Those include Vanderbilt receiver Chris Boyd, who was dismissed from the program in September. Georgia is not scheduled to lose anybody early for the first time since 2008, though former Bulldogs tailback Isaiah Crowell declared for the draft following two seasons at Alabama State.

LSU leads the league with seven departing underclassmen after leading the SEC last year with 11, which included former Tigers cornerback Tyrann Mathieu. Last year's losses were mostly on defense, but the offense has been hit harder this time around with tailbacks Jeremy Hill and Alfred Blue, receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry and guard Trai Turner moving on.

The Tigers did get some good news Tuesday when junior tackle La'el Collins announced he would return.

"We give them the best information that we can," LSU coach Les Miles said Tuesday at a news conference. "We try to dispel what would be false information as best we can, but it really is their decision. What we've got to tell them is 'Let's not give the NFL a deal.' There's no reason for it. The guaranteed money and the best position to go into the draft is the first round.

"What we want to encourage is to really view your decision in relationship to where you can be and where you are."

Auburn tailback Tre Mason, who led the Tigers to the BCS championship game, is also among the 28 SEC players leaving early and among the record 93 in college football who had declared as of Tuesday night. The previous record was 74 last year, which topped the 65 in 2012 and the 56 in 2011.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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