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Wake Forest safety Jessie Bates declares for NFL Draft

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Wake Forest defensive back Jessie Bates is joining the crowd of underclassmen in declaring for the 2018 NFL Draft. Bates announced his decision to declare for the draft this spring with a statement on Twitter.

Bates ended his 2017 season with 77 tackles and an interception. Some scouts seem to think Bates could have benefitted with his NFL Draft stock if he stuck around another year, but Bates will still be a talented prospect NFL teams in need of some defensive and special teams help will consider. He could go in the second or third round of the NFL Draft, in all likelihood.

There are now at least 75 underclassmen declared for the upcoming NFL Draft, with the deadline to make such a decision quickly approaching. Bates announced his decision th same day as USC running back Ronald Jones IINotre Dame running back Josh Adams, and Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Josh Adams becomes second Notre Dame player to declare for draft in two days

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For the second time in as many days, Notre Dame is losing a productive member of its offense.

On his Instagram account Friday afternoon, Josh Adams announced that, “[w]ith a lot of thought, prayer and discussion with my family, I’ve decided to forgo my senior year and enter the 2018 NFL Draft.” In the missive, the running back stated that he’ll “always have Notre Dame in my heart” and will “definitely be back to earn and receive my degree” from the university.

Adams led the Fighting Irish in rushing each of the past two seasons. After running for 933 as a sophomore in 2016, he ran for 1,430 this season, a total that was good for 14th nationally. During his three seasons in South Bend, he also accounted for 20 touchdowns on the ground.

Thursday, Adams’ teammate and wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown announced that he too will be leaving the Irish early for the NFL.

Notre Dame wideout Equanimeous St. Brown declares for the NFL draft

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The man with the best name in college football is no longer going to play college football.

Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown took to Twitter on Thursday evening to announce that he was leaving South Bend and declaring for the 2018 NFL Draft.

St. Brown was the Irish’s leading receiver each of the past two years and one of the team’s biggest playmakers. While his numbers (33 catches, 515 yards and four touchdowns) were down from 2016 to 2017, the 6-foot-5 wideout turning pro early was expected and it’s possible he could wind up going early come draft weekend. He joins Notre Dame offensive lineman Quenton Nelson in making the jump from this year’s team to the pros but the pair is not expected to be alone with decisions coming from running back Josh Adams and linebacker Te’von Coney among others.

Losing St. Brown is still a big blow to Brian Kelly’s 2018 squad though, especially when you factor in receiver Kevin Stepherson has been indefinitely suspended from all football-related activities. The Irish will have two quarterbacks with plenty experience but finding reliable targets for them will be one of the key questions facing the team over the next several months prior to the season opener.

Late touchdown lifts No. 14 Notre Dame to second straight bowl win over No. 17 LSU

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A late touchdown pass from backup quarterback Ian Book to wideout Miles Boykin lifted No. 14 Notre Dame to a 21-17 win over No. 17 LSU in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. It was the second time in four seasons the Irish have closed the year with a bowl win over LSU; the Irish booked a 31-28 Music City Bowl defeat of the Bayou Bengals to conclude the 2014 campaign.

After a 3-0 first half, LSU took the lead on a 20-yard pass from Danny Etling to Derrius Guice, then extended its advantage to 14-6 on a 2-yard Guice run with 11:13 left in regulation. However, two missed field goals late in the first half cost LSU a chance to take complete control of the game with Guice’s scores.

With Book in the game for starter Brandon Wimbush (3-of-8 for 52 yards), Notre Dame drove 75 yards in 10 plays to score on a 5-yard Dexter Williams run, then tied the game on a Josh Adams shovel pass that was originally ruled short of the goal line but overturned upon review.

LSU moved to the Notre Dame 1-yard line with 2:03 remaining, but Ed Orgeron elected to go for a 17-yard Jack Gonsoulin rather than risk a 4th-and-1 play. Gonsoulin’s kick was good, giving the Tigers the lead.

Notre Dame needed only three plays to take the lead, when Book (14-of-19 for 164 yards with two touchdowns and one interception) found Boykin for this 55-yard score.

LSU’s last-gasp chance to win the game died on an incomplete Etling pass on a 4th-and-15 from his own 29-yard line.

LSU closed Orgeron’s first season as head coach at 9-4, while Notre Dame successfully erased the taste of last year’s 4-8 season with a 10-3 campaign. The win allowed Brian Kelly to become the fourth head coach in Notre Dame history to record three 10-win seasons.

Arden Key among three defensive starters ruled out for No. 17 LSU in Citrus Bowl against No. 14 Notre Dame

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A cursed season for LSU’s star pass rusher will apparently continue through the team’s postseason as well.

Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron, speaking at a signing day press conference in Baton Rouge on Wednesday evening, confirmed that edge rusher Arden Key, as well as linebackers Corey Thompson and Donnie Alexander, will be among the starters who won’t play in the Citrus Bowl against Notre Dame on New Year’s Day.

Key has been dealing with hand and knee injuries throughout the 2017 season and has missed time on the field and during practice for LSU this year. He’s projected as a first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft so it seems likely that his career in Baton Rouge is over even if he pops up on the sidelines of the Citrus Bowl.

Just as big of a loss is that of Thompson and Alexander, the latter who has dealt with shoulder problems this season as well. Given the Irish’s ground game is one of the better attacks in the country with two first round picks at left tackle and left guard, it goes without saying that LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda will be earning every bit of his salary over the next few weeks.

Based on the team’s depth charts, it appears that freshman K’Lavon Chaisson will replace Key, freshman Tyler Taylor will take Alexander’s spot, and sophomore Michael Divinity will take over for Thompson. Not exactly the news you want to hear if you’re a fan of the Tigers though such absences might be music to Notre Dame running back Josh Adams ears once he gets to Orlando.