Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain, the centerpiece of the Crimson Tide's national championship defense, announced Monday that he was skipping his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
McClain won the Butkus Award this season as the top linebacker in college football and led the Crimson Tide in tackles. He was a three-year starter and has been calling the defensive signals since he was a freshman.
He led Alabama with 105 tackles and 14.5 stops for losses in 2009. He also had two interceptions and two sacks.
Alabama coach Nick Saban has called the All-American one of the smartest players he's ever coached.
"I'm going to leave the university pretty satisfied with what I've done here," McClain said.
He said he believes he is leaving the Alabama defense in good shape.
"I think also that I have a few good linebackers behind me that can come in and contribute in such ways that I did," he said. "Guys like Don'ta [Hightower] being back next year and Nico Johnson having a good year this year and I think they'll come in and do just as good as I did."
Most projections have McClain going in the top half of the first round.
Chris Low covers the SEC for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.