Texas is doing something they haven’t done in a long time: being an NFL Draft trendsetter. Following the footsteps of Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette last season, the Longhorns are now ground zero for draft-eligible players skipping their senior year and the team’s upcoming bowl game at the same time.
The school confirmed reports on Thursday that defensive back DeShon Elliott would be the second Texas player to skip the UT’s bowl game and declare for the 2018 NFL Draft. He joins left tackle Connor Williams on the way out from Austin after the junior announced on Monday that he was doing the same.
“It was a very difficult decision that I put a lot of thought into,” Elliott said in a statement. “I want to thank my coaches and teammates for the support and all they’ve done to make an impact on my life. I really appreciate Coach (Charlie) Strong giving me the opportunity to play and grow as a player and person at Texas. Coach (Tom) Herman has been amazing, and I’m really excited about what he’s building here. I know that Longhorn football is in good hands. Coach (Craig) Naivar and our strength coach Yancy McKnight have helped me take my game to the next level, and because of that, I feel prepared to take this next step.
“To the awesome Longhorn fans, you have made every game in DKR an experience like no other, and for that, I thank you. And most of all, thank you to my parents for molding me into the athlete and person I am today. I couldn’t have done it without you. I am excited about the future but will forever be a Longhorn.”
Elliott was the only unanimous all-Big 12 selection on defense this season and had a stellar year to cap off his time on the 40 Acres. The safety finished the regular season with 63 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and six interceptions, the latter of which ranks third nationally. He also recorded two pick-sixes in 2017 as well.
Elliott does have a chance to pick up some hardware before he commences training for the draft, as he was named a finalist for the Thorpe Award last week.
It’s possible that the defensive back is not the last one out the door either, as there has been several reports linking linebacker Malik Jefferson to making a similar move to skip the Longhorns’ bowl game to focus on the draft and avoid an injury in an exhibition game next month. Either way, it seems Texas is back to being a focal point for NFL scouts once again — only not in the way many could have predicted a few weeks ago.