Jan. 9, 2015
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Juniors Landon Collins, Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon announced they will be forgoing their senior season to enter the 2015 NFL Draft in a press conference in the Naylor-Stone Media Room on Friday.
Alabama has had 18 players leave early under head coach Nick Saban, 12 of which were first-round draft picks. The 2015 NFL Draft will take place April 30-May 2 at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago.
Cooper, from Miami, Fla., set Alabama and SEC records with 124 receptions while finishing second in SEC history with 1,727 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. Collins, a native of New Orleans, led the team with 103 tackles and three interceptions in 2014 with 4.5 tackles for loss and seven pass breakups. Yeldon, from Daphne, Ala., finished his Crimson Tide career with 3,322 rushing yards (fourth in school history) and 37 rushing touchdowns (third at Alabama).
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Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban
“First of all, let me say how very proud I am of the three young men that are with us today. I think it speaks volumes to the program that we have here to be able to recruit guys with good character, which is the type of guys that these men are and have been. They have represented The University of Alabama in a first-class way. I think it also speaks well to the program that we have been able to develop players like these guys to be as good of players as anybody in the country at their position, and at the same time, do extremely well academically. Each one of these guys are within 30 credit hours or so of graduating. They have done a terrific job of developing a career off the field as well.
“The fact that we have had 13 guys, prior to last year, and five last year that have gone out early and have done well, is something that is a real positive for our program. These guys have been a part of winning 36 games in the three years that they’ve been here, a national championship and two SEC Championships. We are not only proud of their accomplishments as individual players, which in T.J.’s case is All-SEC, in Landon’s case All-American, and in Amari’s case All-American and winning the Biletnikoff. We are very proud of their individual accomplishments, but we are also very proud of how they put the team first and how they played well, helped their teammates play better, and they were great teammates to have. I think these qualities are going to be assets for them as they move on in their careers because everybody wants to have guys on their team that are good teammates, and these guys have done a very good job of that.
“We are very supportive of what each and every one of these guys have decided to do. We make business decisions for our student-athletes when it comes to their future. The program is to help them develop personally, academically and athletically, so that they can have more success in the future. When it comes to these decisions, we try to help them make business decisions, and I think in each one of these cases, each one of these young men have made an excellent decision in what they want to do. It’s always been our philosophy that if a guy is a first-round pick or very near that, which Joe Mendez has done a really good job in evaluating those things, that we encourage them to make the best business decision for them and their families.
“Again, I am very proud of these guys in what they have been able to accomplish here, but I am even more proud of the way that they have represented themselves, their families, and The University of Alabama. They have all done a phenomenal job, and we couldn’t ask for better people to be some of the best players on our team.”
#26 Landon Collins, Safety
“I can’t put into words the three years I spent here. Not only developing as a player, but most importantly, as a man has meant a lot to me. I came here at 18 years old, and I wanted nothing but to play for Coach Saban and wear the Alabama uniform, one rich in tradition. Coach Saban, along with all of the other coaches at Alabama, have not only mentally helped me on the field, but have shown me the tools to succeed in life outside of football. Hard work, dedication and discipline are not only words in the dictionary, but are actually a part of life. The coaches taught me the meaning of those words in my three years of being here. I would consider myself a better man. After spending three years in Tuscaloosa, my time has come to take the next step in my journey. I will dearly miss all of the teammates that I have sweat, cried and laughed with. It is true that the best time of your life is playing college football. I wouldn’t have picked a different place and or a group of guys than those that I played with. Lastly, but certainly not the least, I want to thank all of the Roll Tide fans. They took a young man from New Orleans and took me as one of their own. I fed off their passion that they showed every Saturday night at the games. I cannot thank you enough for the best fans in college football. Thank you all, and Roll Tide…Roll Tide for life.”
#9 Amari Cooper, Wide Receiver
“First and foremost, I would like to thank God for allowing me to make the right decision and come to The University of Alabama. Secondly, I would like to thank my family, Coach Saban and all of my teammates for being great influences on my life. I came here as a 17 year old who wanted nothing more than to play football at a high level. In the process, so much more has happened. I think I have become more mature, a better person and a better Christian. I just wanted nothing more than to thank everyone that has been a great influence on my life, since I have been here: Coach Saban, this whole staff and everyone involved.”
#4 T.J. Yeldon, Running Back
“I would like to thank The University of Alabama, Athletic Director Bill Battle and Coach Nick Saban for the opportunity to play here. These past three years, I’ve had a great time with all of the coaches and my teammates. I wouldn’t change this experience for anything. I’ve become a better man; that will carry on to my future. I would like to thank Coach (Burton) Burns for everything he has done for me. He has looked out for me. I have just happened to become a better person because of Coach Burns and he has been like a father to me. Also, I would like to thank my parents, my friends and everyone who has supported me. Roll Tide.”