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Auburn’s Corey Lemonier latest to leave early for the NFL

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Saying it “was a very difficult decision for me” while at the same time proclaiming himself ready for the challenges of the next level, defensive end Corey Lemonier announced Monday evening that he will be leaving Auburn and making himself eligible for the NFL draft.

“I prayed a lot and felt this was the best for me to pursue this opportunity,” Lemonier said in a statement. “I loved every minute of my time at Auburn and I’m very appreciative of my teammates, coaches and the entire Auburn family. It is sad to leave such a special place like Auburn, but ultimately I made a decision that was best for me and my family.”

Lemonier was a first-team All-SEC selection in 2011 and made second-team all-conference this past season.  He started 24 of the 34 games in which he played, and was credited with 17 sacks and 24 tackles for loss.  The latter total is tied for seventh on the Tigers’ all-time list.

Depending on the draft prognosticator, Lemonier is viewed as anywhere from a mid-first-round pick to somewhere in the second round.

“We appreciate Corey’s many contributions to the Auburn football program, both on and off the field, during his three years,” said new Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said. “Corey is a class act and we wish him nothing but the best as he pursues his dream to play professional football.”

Lemonier becomes the sixth draft-eligible underclassmen defensive lineman to leave early, the most of any one position.

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