Late Friday night, Northwestern’s star middle linebacker Anthony Walker announced his decision to enter the 2017 NFL Draft with a prepared statement on his Twitter:
This announcement comes just a few days after Northwestern’s 31-24 Pinstripe Bowl victory over Pittsburgh, and the news that both Walker and safety Godwin Igwebuike were inquiring about the NFL draft.
Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald had this to say:
"We’re so proud of Anthony, and thrilled for the Walker family. He’s cemented a spot as one of the best players in Northwestern football history, will earn his degree this spring and has the opportunity to pursue his dream. That’s what Wildcats football is all about. I can’t wait to see him on Sundays proudly representing Northwestern and his family!”
As Fitzgerald mentioned in his statement, Walker will still be receiving his degree from Northwestern despite not coming back for his last year of eligibility. Since Walker was a redshirt junior this past season, he’s been at Northwestern as a student for four years and will still graduate on time.
Back in May, InsideNU’s own Sam Brief assessed Walker’s stock were he to enter in draft 2017. In 2016, ‘The Franchise’ racked up 105 tackles, three forced fumbles, two sacks and an interception en route to a successful junior campaign.
Walker is the first Northwestern football player to declare early for the NFL draft since Darnell Autry following the 1996 season.