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Thursday, January 12, 2012
Tide's Richardson, Kirkpatrick leaving

By Chris Low

There were no surprises Thursday for Alabama's football team.

The feeling around the program all along was that running back Trent Richardson, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and linebacker Dont'a Hightower would all enter their names into the NFL draft, and that's what happened.

Meanwhile, safety Robert Lester announced that he was returning to school for his senior season.

It's the second year in a row that Alabama has lost three juniors to the draft. A year ago, Marcell Dareus, Julio Jones and Mark Ingram all went in the first round.

Richardson's a potential top 5 pick. Kirkpatrick is projected by most analysts to go somewhere in the first round, while Hightower may end up going in the second round.

Here's an updated list of the SEC underclassmen declaring early for the NFL draft: