Juniors Landon Collins, Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon will forgo their final year of eligibility declared for the 2015 NFL Draft on Friday.
“They have made a good business decision to decide what they want to do with the next year of their football career,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “I’m very proud of these guys in terms of what they’ve been able to accomplish here but more proud of the way they’ve represented themselves, their family, The University of Alabama. They’ve all done a phenomenal job, and we couldn’t ask for better people to be some of the best players on our team.”
In the 2014 season, Collins had 103 tackles, 60 unassisted. He had 4.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions along with two fumble returns and a forced fumble. One of his interceptions came late in the game against Arkansas to secure the 14-13 win.
In his three years at Alabama, Collins had 190 tackles, 120 of which were unassisted. He has 8.5 career tackles for loss, five interceptions, 13 pass breakups, three forced fumbles and three fumble returns.
In 2014, he was a unanimous first team All-American. He earned first team conference honors. Collins was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, Nagurski Award and Lott Trophy.
“I can honestly say that I’m a better man, and after spending three years in Tuscaloosa, now the time has come to me to take the next step to my journey, and I will dearly miss all of my teammates who I sweat, cried and laughed with,” Collins said. “I have no doubt that it’s true when they say that the best time of your life is playing college football, and I wouldn’t have picked a different place or a group of guys that I played with.”
Cooper had a FBS-leading 124 receptions. He led the team with 1,727 yards receiving and 16 touchdowns. He set several school records, including career touchdowns and all-time leading receiver. He won the Biletnikoff Award and was a Heisman finalist. He was a unanimous first team All-American.
“It’s been great,” Cooper said. “Been here three years and it seems like three days. I can remember the first day I came in here to this place. I wanted nothing more than to prove I could play at a high level. Had a lot of ups and downs here. Try to stay positive and fight through them and I was glad I was able to get past them.”
In three years at Alabama, he put up 31 touchdowns and 3,463 yards receiving on 228 receptions.
“Definitely there was a part of me that wanted to be able come back to end in a better way, but the more I thought about it, it doesn’t always end the way you want it to end,” Cooper said. “I thought it was the perfect time to move on with the season I had.”
Yeldon battled ankle and hamstring injuries. He put up 979 yards rushing in 2014, his only season at Alabama where he did not put up at least 1,000 yards rushing. He had 11 rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown.
He accumulated 3,322 yards on the ground and 37 touchdowns. He had 494 career yards receiving and two scores.
“Over Christmas break, I talked to my family a little bit about it,” Yeldon said. “I sent in a grade sheet and I got a second round [grade] so I decided it was best for me to come out.”
The three were 36-5 at Alabama, were on the 2012 National Championship team and won two SEC Championships.
“It’s crazy because we all had this dream and always had this mindset that we’re going to work until we get where we want to get,” Collins said. “We all had a dream and we’re making it come true.”