Trio of Alabama Juniors, Including Running Back Lacy, to Join NFL Draft
Alabama will defend its national title next year without several key players as three juniors opted to skip their final season and join the upcoming NFL draft.
In a joint news conference, running back Eddie Lacy, cornerback Dee Milliner and right tackle D.J. Fluker announced their decision to take their game to the professional level.
"I would like to take this time to honor these young men for the great job that they have done in how they have represented the University of Alabama and their family," coach Nick Saban said.
"They have all been great people, in terms of how they have represented our organization. From a personal character standpoint, these guys have been great representatives and great ambassadors for the University of Alabama and we really appreciate that," Saban added.
The three are expected to be picked in the first or second round because of their outstanding credentials.
A finalist for the Jim Thorpe award as the top defensive back in the country, Milliner is the highest-rated junior on the Crimson Tide and is the No. 1 cornerback in Scouts Inc.'s rankings, finishing in the top five nationally in passes defended.
"To cap it off with another national championship was one of the best feelings," Milliner said. "It's hard to say it's come to an end. Hopefully on the next level I can continue my success."
Lacy, who played all 14 games this season despite nagging injuries, rushed for 1,322 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was named offensive MVP of the BCS title game Monday after rushing for 140 yards and scoring twice in Alabama's 42-14 win over Notre Dame.
Lacy is the sixth-ranked draft-eligible running back, according to Scouts Inc. With his departure, the Crimson Tide are left with a talented true freshman in T.J. Yeldon along with a bevy of other elite prospects.
"It's been an amazing experience here," Lacy said. "Now is the right time to make the move to the National Football League."
Fluker blocked for six 100-yard rushers this season and a total of 21 in his career at Alabama. The 6-foot-6, 335-pound redshirt junior was part of arguably the best offensive line in college football, producing the school's first pair of 1,000-yard tailbacks.
With Fluker's departure, along with seniors Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack, Alabama will have two returning starters on the offensive line in junior guard Anthony Steen and sophomore tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.
"I think Anthony Steen and Cyrus are two guys that have played very, very well all year long, and their time is coming," Saban said. "They're going to be the guys who get featured next year as being the most experienced guys, who have the most starts, who have played with the most consistency".
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