Chantel JenningsESPN Staff Writer
The Washington Huskies will lose four starters as early entrants to the NFL draft this year, it was announced Tuesday.
Safety Budda Baker, wide receiver John Ross, cornerback Sidney Jones and defensive lineman Elijah Qualls will all bypass their senior seasons to enter the 2017 draft. All four players appear in the top 10 at each of their respective positions in the most recent draft rankings by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.
“These four players have been a big part of the progress this program has made during their time here,” coach Chris Petersen said in a statement. “We wish them all the success in the world as they pursue their professional goals.”
Baker, a three-year starter and two-time All-Pac-12 first-team selection, is listed as the third-best draft-eligible safety in Kiper’s rankings behind Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers and LSU’s Jamal Adams.
A key cog in coach Petersen’s first recruiting class and rebuilding efforts, Baker tallied 200 tackles in his three seasons at Washington.
Ross returned from his second college career knee injury this season to lead the Huskies with 17 receiving touchdowns and 1,150 receiving yards. Kiper ranks him as the second-best draft-eligible receiver.
On Tuesday, Ross tweeted that he “will always treasure the skills and knowledge that the University of Washington has fostered in [him].” He also ended the note with “#CoachPeteForPresident2020.”
Jones, like Baker, was a part of Petersen’s first recruiting class and has been a three-year starter for the Huskies. He ends his career with 145 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, nine interceptions and 30 passes defended. Kiper lists him as the ninth-best draft-eligible corner.
Qualls is a two-year starter and was named an All-Pac-12 first-team selection this season. He was a rock in the middle of the Huskies’ talented defensive line, and is ranked by Kiper as the third-best draft-eligible defensive tackle behind Michigan State’s Malik McDowell and Florida’s Caleb Brantley.