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LSU wide receiver Malachi Dupre (15) makes a one handed catch while being defended by Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander (10) in the second quarter of the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, Saturday, December 31, 2016, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fl.

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK

Malachi Dupre is taking the talents he flashed in LSU’s bowl game to the next level.

Dupre, a draft-eligible junior wide receiver, announced his departure to the NFL on Friday, becoming the fourth underclassman from last year’s team to bypass his senior season.

"It is time to part way with the great place I have called home for the past three years, but every ending has a new beginning and that new beginning for me is pursuing another dream of mine and that is to play in the National Football League," he posted in a message on Twitter Friday.

Dupre makes the pro leap after racking up a career-high in receiving yards (139) in LSU’s 29-9 win over Louisville in the Citrus Bowl on Dec. 31. He caught seven passes in the game and told reporters afterward that he’d use the next two weeks to make a decision on his future.

The deadline for underclassmen to declare is Monday. Dupre joins running back Leonard Fournette, defensive tackle Davon Godchaux and safety Jamal Adams as juniors to leave early. LSU has now lost eight underclassmen to the draft over the last three years. That’s a far cry from the seven lost after the 2013 season and 10 after the 2012 season.

A handful of players decided to return for next season, including defensive tackle Christian LaCouture, nose tackle Greg Gilmore and receiver D.J. Chark.

Dupre’s bowl performance was a final hurrah for a guy ranked by ESPN.com as the top high school receiver in the nation in 2014.  His one-handed catch was the highlight, coming on third down and amid a five-play stretch in which Dupre caught three passes.

The 6-4, 195-pound Dupre is projected as a second or third-round draft pick. WalterFootball.com has him as the seventh-best wideout in the draft class.

Dupre led the Tigers in receiving yards (593), receptions (41) and tied for the team lead in TD catches (3). Travin Dural, a senior, was second on the team in yards and catches, meaning the Tigers will lose their top two wideouts. 

A host of young talent is expected to fill the void, with Chark and fellow senior Russell Gage leading the way. Sophomores Dee Anderson, Stephen Sullivan and Drake Davis were highly recruited players who saw spot duty last season. 

The Tigers have one receiver committed in the 2017 signing class, junior college player Stephen Guidry. Mannie Netherly, a wideout from Texas, enrolled in classes this week and will participate in spring practice. 

Jumping Early

Early departures at LSU since 2005.

  • 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
*excludes Tryann Mathieu, who was dismissed during preseason camp

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.