ORLANDO — David Njoku is the latest Hurricanes tight end headed to the NFL.
Njoku, a redshirt sophomore, told reporters after Miami’s 31-14 win in the Russell Athletic Bowl over No. 16 West Virginia that he will forgo his final two seasons of college eligibility and enter the draft.
“It’s kind of bittersweet, leaving my team a couple years early, but I feel like it’s what’s best for me and my family,” he said, adding that coach Mark Richt “wished me the best.”
Though junior quarterback Brad Kaaya said he still has some “soul-searching to do” and will decide his future in the coming days, Miami (9-4) returns a loaded defense and several major pieces on offense. That, he said, made his decision hard.
However, Njoku said his coaches told him he had the potential to be drafted in the first two rounds. He would join Greg Olsen (Carolina), Jimmy Graham (Seattle), Clive Walford (Oakland) and Erik Swoope (Indianapolis) as former Miami tight ends in the league.
“Nothing’s going to happen unless I work,” he said. “I’ve got to get working.”
A 6-foot-4, 245-pound former high school national champion high-jumper, he caught 43 passes for 608 yards and eight touchdowns in his final season.
In his last game at UM, he caught five passes for 44 yards and a touchdown, which made it 28-7 early in the third quarter. He said he “was thinking about it a lot” going into his final game and made his decision beforehand.
“This was about myself and my family,” he said. “I think [my teammates] understand.”
Russell Athletic Bowl 2016