Georgia Butkus Award winner Roquan Smith to enter NFL draft

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ATHENS, Ga. (AP) – Linebacker Roquan Smith, the leader of a defense that led Georgia to the national championship game, is entering the NFL draft.

The decision by Smith, the Butkus Award winner, was expected. He enjoyed a strong junior season, which boosted his draft status.

Smith led Georgia with 137 tackles, 6½ sacks and 17 quarterback hurries. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Smith was a game-changer with his speed and instincts and is seen as a possible first-round draft pick.

Despite his high draft status, Smith said in a statement released Monday by Georgia that his decision was not easy. He said he made the decision following “discussions with coaches and family and a lot of thought and prayer.”

Coach Kirby Smart said in a statement he expects “great success” for Smith in the NFL.

Georgia (13-2) finished No. 2 in the final Top 25 following its 26-23 overtime loss to Alabama in the national championship game.