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Alabama Crimson Tide WR Calvin Ridley declares for NFL draft

Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley announced Wednesday on Twitter that he will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

Ridley, who is rated as the top draft-eligible receiver by ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., made the announcement less than 48 hours after the Crimson Tide beat Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game Presented by AT&T.

“Having been thoroughly prepared for that next step,” he wrote, “I am truly ready.”

Ridley was Alabama’s top receiver since he first set foot on campus as a freshman in 2015 when he caught 89 passes for 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns. All told, he caught 224 career passes for 2,781 yards and 19 touchdowns.

In addition to Ridley, junior defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne, an All-SEC selection who was the defensive MVP of both the national championship and semifinal games, will also enter the draft, a source confirmed to ESPN. Payne, who had six tackles against Georgia, is ranked No. 3 by Kiper in his draft-eligible position rankings.

With Ridley off to the NFL, Alabama will turn to a talented crop of freshman, including Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs and DeVonta Smith, who caught the game-winning touchdown against Georgia.

In addition to Ridley, reported on Wednesday that backup running back Bo Scarbrough will also turn pro, while top running back Damien Harris, a junior, will be returning to Alabama.

Scarbrough, a former top prospect, has dealt with a number of injuries during his career, which has seen him rush for 1,512 yards in three seasons.

Harris was ranked as the No. 5 draft-eligible running back by Kiper.

On Tuesday, Saban said he met with seven potential early entrants to the draft about their decisions.

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