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LSU running back Derrius Guice (5) slips the tackle by Notre Dame linebacker Nyles Morgan (5) in the second half, Monday, January 1, 2018, in the Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. Notre Dame won 21-17.

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK

The Derrius Guice era at LSU is at its expected end.

The former Catholic High star and record-setting Tigers running back will forgo his senior season for the NFL draft, he announced Wednesday with a post on social media.

The news had been expected for months.

"Nothing will ever replace LSU in my heart, because you had a big part in raising me from a young boy to becoming a man. To my family, thank you for everything. I promise not to let you down. I promise I'm going to come back and get my degree one day," Guice said in a video message he posted.

"Entering the NFL draft has always been my goal, and it is the next chapter in my life. I'm grateful and excited to start this new journey. I promise to make you proud."

Guice will finish his LSU career as the school’s single-season record holder for career yards per carry (6.527), shattering the one set by predecessor Leonard Fournette. The 5-11, 220-pound Baton Rouge native also holds the school’s single-game rushing record (285 yards at Texas A&M in 2016) and the longest rushing score from scrimmage in school history (96 yards at Arkansas in 2016).

Guice is projected by many as a first-rounder, and his injury-plagued year did nothing to slow that, draft analysts say. The up-and-down seasons for Guice and edge rusher Arden Key did not result in a drastic drop in their projections.

“Entering the year, I thought both were top 10,” said Rob Rang, a senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com. “Now I believe they’re both in that top 25 mix."

Guice joins cornerbacks Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver, tackle Toby Weathersby and Key as LSU players who have announced their early departures. Offensive linemen Will Clapp and Garrett Brumfield submitted requests for draft grades, a sign they're at least contemplating an early departure. Neither player has announced his intention.

The five early departures is the most for the Tigers since seven underclassmen left in 2014.

Guice’s sophomore season was his most explosive in an LSU uniform, as he replaced an injured Fournette, emerging from his shadow and into the national spotlight. He finished with 1,387 yards rushing, the fourth-best season in the program’s history, and posted a stunning 7.6-yard average on 183 carries.

Guice ended a banged-up junior season in 2017 with 98 yards and two receiving touchdowns in a Citrus Bowl loss to Notre Dame. In a parallel to Fournette’s final year in Baton Rouge, Guice suffered an injury in camp that lingered through much of the season. He then re-injured the knee in Game 3 at Mississippi State. He still managed to run for 1,251, eighth on the all-time single-season list, and 11 scores.

His 12 career 100-yard rushing games puts him fifth all-time, one ahead of Jeremy Hill, and his three 200-yard games is more than any LSU player outside of Fournette (five) and Kevin Faulk (four). He is just one of five to break the 4,000-yard mark for his career, too. He’s also tied for sixth with 29 touchdowns rushing.

Guice is the third consecutive LSU starting running back to bypass his senior season and turn pro, joining Fournette and Hill. This time, there does not seem to be an obvious replacement, and it’s something that Orgeron revealed this season he “worries about at night.”

The Tigers are expected to return rising senior Nick Brossette, fourth-year junior Lanard Fournette and sophomore Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The trio combines for 61 career carries and 357 yards. The Tigers signed two running backs in the early period in December: Florida native Chris Curry and Tae Provens of Alabama.

JUMPING EARLY

Early departures at LSU since 2005

  • 2018: 5**
  • 2017: 4
  • 2016: 1
  • 2015: 3
  • 2014: 7*
  • 2013: 10
  • 2012: 3
  • 2011: 2
  • 2010: 1
  • 2009: 1
  • 2008: 0
  • 2007: 1
  • 2006: 0
  • 2005: 0
*includes Alfred Blue, who passed on a fifth-year of eligibility
**includes Derrius Guice, Arden Key, Toby Weathersby, Kevin Toliver and Donte Jackson

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.