Updated with more information at 11:40 p.m. on Jan. 13, 2022.
Alabama left tackle Evan Neal, who defined "gargantuan" and "overpowering" as well as any player in college football this past season, announced Thursday that he would be bypassing his senior year in Tuscaloosa to enter the 2022 NFL draft.
The 6-foot-7, 350-pounder out of Okeechobee, Florida, had a unique three-year run with the Crimson Tide, starting at left guard as a five-star freshman in 2019 and at right tackle for the 2020 national champions before moving again. In his 28 career starts as an Alabama tackle, Neal allowed just 25 quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.
Neal made his announcement on Twitter less than three days after the Tide lost Monday night's national championship game to Georgia 33-18 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
"Though this season didn't end with the outcome my brothers and I were hoping for, this year was incredible," Neal wrote, "and I will forever remember all that it took to get us there. Playing football at the highest level was always my goal, and to be able to do that at the University of Alabama has been a dream come true."
Also declaring for the draft was junior receiver Jameson Williams, who injured his left knee during Monday's second quarter and did not return. Williams spent his first two seasons at Ohio State before transferring to Alabama, where he racked up 79 receptions for a team-high 1,572 yards and a team-high 15 touchdowns.
The Biletnikoff Award finalist's 19.9 yards per catch set a school standard for a player with at least 50 receptions.
"Wish it could have ended differently, but it's nothing but up from here," the 6-2, 189-pounder posted on Instagram.
Neal played nearly 1,100 snaps this past season, was named a permanent team captain after Alabama's 41-24 downing of Georgia in last month's Southeastern Conference championship game and was a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award and the Outland Trophy. As a sophomore, he played more than 800 snaps and had just six missed assignments and three penalties.
On April 28, Neal could be the first SEC player to have his name called at the draft, which is scheduled to take place in Las Vegas.
A Sports Illustrated mock draft earlier this week pegged Neal going first overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, while a Pro Football Focus projection had him going third to the Houston Texans. Mock drafts by CBS and NBC had Neal going fourth to the New York Jets and fifth to the New York Giants, respectively.
Williams has a chance to be in the upper half of the first round as well, with ESPN analyst Mel Kiper listing him as the top receiver in this class.
In other Alabama news Thursday, linebackers Shane Lee and Jaylen Moody entered the NCAA transfer portal. Lee was a Freshman All-SEC selection in 2019, while Moody opened this past season with an interception against Miami.
Bulldogs' Brini in the portal
Georgia defensive back Latavious Brini has entered the NCAA transfer portal and plans to use his second senior season elsewhere. The 6-2, 210-pounder from Miami Gardens, Florida, played in 13 games with 11 starts this past season, assembling 38 tackles, eight pass breakups and 2.5 tackles for loss.
Brini is the third Bulldogs defensive back this week to enter the portal, joining fellow senior Ameer Speed and redshirt freshman Jalen Kimber. Speed started the first three games of Georgia's championship run.
Vols' Bell might move on
Tennessee freshman tight end Trinity Bell entered the transfer portal on Thursday. The 6-7, 265-pounder from Albertville, Alabama, was a three-star signee in the 2021 class and did not play this past season.