Add one more to the list of underclassmen leaving Ohio State for the NFL draft, as redshirt sophomore linebacker Darron Lee announced Saturday night that he is leaving Columbus to turn pro.
“After thorough consideration and research,” Lee wrote in a message posted to Twitter, “I have decided to forego my final two years of eligibility and enter the NFL draft.”
In the screenshot he published, Lee thanked OSU coach Urban Meyer, defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and the rest of the coaching staff for giving him “the opportunity of a lifetime that has changed (his) life forever.”
Against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl on Friday, in what turned out to be his final game wearing scarlet and gray, Lee tied senior linebacker Joshua Perry for the team lead in tackles with seven.
On the season, the 6-foot-2 New Albany, Ohio, native finished with 66 tackles, 4.5 sacks and one interception, which was returned for a touchdown. During the Buckeyes’ national championship run in 2014, Lee had 81 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.
Lee joins junior running back Ezekiel Elliott, redshirt junior quarterback Cardale Jones and junior defensive end Joey Bosa as the OSU underclassmen already to have declared for the NFL draft.
In the next few days, more are expected to make their decisions public. Players speculated to leave include safety Vonn Bell and receiver Michael Thomas. Underclassmen have until Jan. 18 to do so.
Lee, who is considered by many experts to be an early-round pick in late April’s draft, wrote in the message that his time at OSU has been some of the “greatest years” of his life.
He added that he is “honored” to be a Buckeye for the rest of his life.
“It has been a pleasure to play for the greatest University (sic) on the planet, with the best teammates a guy could ask for,” Lee wrote. “I will never forget my time here and most importantly all the fun we had.”