Kevin Minter emerged as the Most Valuable Player on LSU’s football team, earned numerous awards and collected his degree this past season.
That left little left for the linebacker to accomplish individually in college, so Minter announced Thursday that he would forgo his senior season with the Tigers and enter the NFL draft in April.
“When you’re hot, you’re hot,” said Minter, who added that he has signed with agent Joel Segal, which results in him forfeiting his final year of eligibility.
But it’s unlikely Minter would have any second thoughts anyway. He made 130 tackles this season, the fourth-most in LSU history. His teammates voted him MVP, the Southeastern Conference coaches voted him first-team all-league and he was named second-team All-America by the Walter Camp Foundation.
“You never know what is going to happen from year to year,” Minter said. “I had confidence that I would play well next season, but I had to make the decision that was best for my family. I talked with my family (Wednesday), and we decided this was the best fit for us. The best time was right now to take the next step in my life.”
Several of Minter’s underclassman teammates are deciding whether the time is right for them to take that step. The deadline for declaring for the NFL draft is Jan. 15.
LSU will announce junior safety Eric Reid’s plans Friday, Reid’s father said Thursday night. Redshirt sophomore punter Brad Wing, who was suspended for the bowl because of a violation of a team rule, tweeted Monday that he would announce his decision Tuesday, then tweeted on Tuesday that the announcement would come Wednesday. Wing had not announced anything as of Thursday night.
Defensive ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery, defensive tackle Bennie Logan, cornerback Tharold Simon and running backs Spencer Ware and Michael Ford are other underclassmen believed to be considering turning pro.
But no Tigers stock rose as much this season as did Minter’s. He had 19 tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack in the Tigers’ 25-24 loss to Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Monday night, which he said “left a bitter taste.”
He said he was tempted to return to LSU “to come back and prove that we’re a great team and can win a national championship.”
Additionally, he said, “I love LSU and the time I had there — the atmosphere. There was a reason that I went there.”
But, ultimately the prospect of redemption for the bowl loss and for a 10-3 record in a season that began with national championship aspirations wasn’t enough to sway Minter away from the NFL.
Minter said preliminary information from the NFL projected him as a third-round draft choice, though he will have opportunities to further impress NFL evaluators at the NFL Combine and LSU’s Pro Day before the draft.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said last month he had Minter rated the No. 2 middle linebacker among juniors.
Minter, a fourth-year junior from Suwanee, Ga., finished his career with 206 total tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. He set a school record with 17 solo tackles among his 20 total in a 14-6 loss at Florida on Oct. 6, a game in which he missed most of two series with leg cramps.
His departure leaves the middle linebacker position up for grabs among largely untested players for next season. Ronnie Feist of West St. John and Trey Granier from Thibodaux playing sparingly as freshmen this season, and sophomore D.J. Welter saw his only action of the season Monday after being academically ineligible during the fall semester.