Missouri DE Aldon Smith enters NFL Draft

January, 7, 2011
1/07/11
5:18
PM ET
Missouri sophomore defensive end Aldon Smith is forgoing his final two seasons of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft, the university announced on Friday.

"I’d like to thank everyone at Mizzou for supporting me," Smith said in a release. "The coaches, our fans and alumni, everyone has been great, and they’ve definitely helped me get to this point. It’s been my dream for as long as I can remember to play in the NFL, so this is something I’m really excited for."

Smith suffered a broken leg early in the season that forced him to miss three games and was still hampered by the injury briefly when he returned, but he finished with 48 total tackles, including 10 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.

"There’s no question that Aldon is one of the most gifted athletes in the country at his position," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "We’d love to have the chance to coach him longer, but we’re 100 percent behind him and supportive with this decision."

Smith redshirted his first year at Missouri, allowing him to be three years removed from high school and draft eligible. He joins his teammate, quarterback Blaine Gabbert as early entrants into the draft. Gabbert, a junior, declared for the draft earlier this week.

Before this season, receiver Jeremy Maclin was the only Gary Pinkel recruit to leave school early for the draft. Smith and Gabbert's departures make it three.

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