Alabama Football: Trio of Juniors to Enter NFL Draft (AUDIO)
Alabama juniors Dee Milliner and Eddie Lacy announced their decision to enter the 2013 National Football League Draft, Friday morning in the Naylor Stone Media Suite. Alabama head coach Nick Saban announced that junior D.J. Fluker will also forego his senior season to enter the draft.
“I would like to take this time to honor these young men for the great job that they have done in how they have represented the University of Alabama and their family,” Coach Saban said. “They have all been great people, in terms of how they have represented our organization. From a personal character standpoint, these guys have been great representatives and great ambassadors for the University of Alabama and we really appreciate that.”
Lacy finished the 2012 season with 1,322 yards and 17 touchdowns. The 17 rushing touchdowns are tied for the third most in single season school history. He averaged 6.5 yards per carry and 94.4 yards per game. In the national championship game the Geismar, La., native was named the Offensive MVP after rushing for 140 yards and scoring two touchdowns.
“I want to start by thanking the University of Alabama, Coach Saban and Coach Burns, my position coach,” Lacy said. “I want to thank all of my teammates and the teachers and academic staff here at the university; the training staff, Jeff Allen and especially Jeremy Gsell; we put in a lot of time over the years here.
“Of course I want to thank all of the fans. They are great fans. It has been an amazing experience here. I developed well as a player and as a person here at Alabama. As I look back at the four years, I feel that I have accomplished all of the goals that the team and I set out to accomplish.”
Milliner finished his junior season with 54 tackles, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions and 22 passes defended. He also forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and blocked a kick. The Millbrook, Ala., native was a finalist for the Thorpe Award and was a consensus first-team All-American.
“It’s been a great experience for me in my three years being here,” Milliner said. “I’ve learned a lot of things -not only becoming a better football player, but also becoming a better man. Coach Saban and the coaching staff do a great job of developing players here and helping you out all that they can.
“I’d like to thank all the coaching staff for what they did for me: Coach Pruitt, my defensive backs coach, for all the help and the things that he did for me; the trainers and all the strength coaches, for developing me as a better person and the things that they do; the academic center, for all the help that they gave me in academics, for making me become more of a student-athlete. I’d like to thank all my family for all the love and support they gave me over the years. Without them I don’t know what I’d be doing or where I’d be right now.”
Fluker started 36 games at right tackle for the Tide, including all 14 games in 2012. He was named a Walter Camp and Associated Press second-team All-American. The Foley, Ala., native blocked for 10 individual 100-yard performances on the season and helped Alabama average 227.5 yards per game on the ground and 218 yards in the air.
“After spending time talking to all of the people closest to me, I’ve decided to enter the NFL Draft. That is never an easy decision when you are playing at a place like Alabama,” Fluker said. “These four years in Tuscaloosa have been the best four years of my life and I appreciate everyone who helped me along the way. I especially want to thank my family, my coaches, and my teammates for helping me get to this point.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to play in the NFL, but I’ll also miss all of the people here. I’m sure I’ll be back plenty of times and these are memories that can never be taken away. Whether it was winning national championships or earning my degree, I’ve been able to accomplish all of the goals I had when I came here four years ago. I also want to make sure to thank the fans for making this such a special experience. In my heart, I’ll always be a Crimson Tider.”
Below, Eddie Lacy and Dee Milliner discuss their decisions to enter the NFL Draft. (Note: DJ Fluker was not present at Friday’s press conference).