Texas A&M senior center Ryan McCollum announced Wednesday via Twitter that he will enter the NFL draft instead of returning to school for an extra season.
“I am excited to announce that I am officially declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft,” McCollum tweeted, also thanking coaches and the fans. “I appreciate your continued support.”
McCollum is the second of four seniors on the offensive line to announce his intentions for next season. Senior tackle Dan Moore Jr. declared for the NFL draft Tuesday, with guard Jared Hocker and tackle Carson Green yet to announce.
Seniors who played in 2020 can return to their college teams next season thanks to an NCAA ruling that does not count the recent fall sports season against eligibility.
McCollum has been in school five years, having redshirted in 2016. In addition, he graduated in December and is married.
The 6-foot-5, 300-pound McCollum was projected to be the starting center for the 2019 season after making seven starts at guard as a sophomore. But McCollum had a lingering back injury that limited him to spot duty in eight games last season as Colton Prater replaced Erik McCoy in the starting lineup after McCoy left after his junior season for the NFL.
McCollum was fully healthy this season, starting all 10 games. He joined the other four returning offensive line starters to form one of the country’s best units, which was a finalist for the Joe Moore Award that goes to the nation’s best offensive line. A&M ranked third in the nation in time of possession and also ranked third in third-down conversions. A&M ranked fifth in sacks allowed at only 0.7 per game.
McCollum appeared in 43 games in his Aggie career, making 23 starts. True freshman Smart Chibuzo was listed on A&M’s depth chart as McCollum’s backup, but when McCollum was injured and had to miss a play in Saturday’s 41-27 Orange Bowl victory over North Carolina, the Aggies moved sophomore All-American Kenyon Green from right guard to center with true freshman Layden Robinson inserted at right guard.
A&M senior defensive tackle Jayden Peevy announced Sunday that he would return for a fifth season.
A&M’s other key seniors yet to announce their intentions include quarterback Kellen Mond, linebacker Buddy Johnson, cornerback Myles Jones and defensive end Micheal Clemons.
The deadline for players declaring for the NFL draft has yet to be determined. Expectations are that it will be around Jan. 18, which is seven days after Monday’s national championship game. The NFL draft will be April 29-May 1 in Cleveland, Ohio.