Mailk Jefferson

Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Junior linebacker Malik Jefferson is going pro.

Jefferson announced late Sunday afternoon via The Players’ Tribune that he is declaring for the NFL Draft.

The news comes as no real surprise as it was widely expected that Jefferson would forgo his senior season for a chance at the NFL. Jefferson is the fifth Longhorn to declare for the 2018 draft, joining junior left tackle Connor Williams, junior safety DeShon Elliott, junior cornerback Holton Hill and junior punter Michael Dickson.

“It’s been a long process and a very difficult decision by leaving my teammates, and they supported me in everything I did,” Jefferson said in a video tweeted by The Players’ Tribune.  “But it’s a dream of mine, and I appreciate them for all the support.”

The junior turned in his best season as a Longhorn in 2017, in which he was named a second team All-American by the Associated Press and the Sporting News.

Jefferson was also selected as the Big 12’s co-defensive player of the year and named first team All-Big 12.

Jefferson led the Longhorns in tackles this season with 110 and finished tied for first on the team in sacks with four.

He did not play in the Texas Bowl against Missouri due to a turf toe injury.

“I also want to thank the coaches that have been in my life who have been a great motivation and a great influence on me,” Jefferson said. “I want to thank Coach Strong for bringing me in in 2015 and allowing me to create this recruiting class for my brothers that I still bear with to this day, and Coach Herman for coming and finishing that out with me and making me a great player.”