Alabama will be moving on without its leading tackler from the 2019 season.
Junior safety Xavier McKinney, who racked up 95 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, three interceptions and three sacks for the 11-2 Crimson Tide, announced Sunday afternoon that he would forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder from the Atlanta suburb of Roswell revealed his decision on Instagram and thanked Alabama coach Nick Saban.
"From the time I arrived my freshman year until now, he has made me a better player and pushed me to be the best version of me," McKinney said. "I can not thank him enough. My time in Tuscaloosa has been special."
A CBS mock draft last week had McKinney going 17th overall to the Dallas Cowboys.
McKinney is part of Alabama's sensational 2017 signing class that included quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, running back Najee Harris, offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood and receivers Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III and DeVonta Smith. Leatherwood has announced his return to Tuscaloosa, while Jeudy declared his intention to enter the 2020 draft.
Tagovailoa has set a noon Eastern news conference Monday to announce his decision, with Saban scheduled to be alongside him.
Underclassmen have until Jan. 20 to declare their intentions.