Three Michigan State football players, Le'Veon Bell, Dion Sims and William Gholston, announced they will turn pro and enter the NFL Draft in April.
Bell, who led the Spartans in rushing this year, was expected to leave MSU after his junior season. A punishing, physical rusher, Bell took a lot of punishment this season and didn't stand to gain much from staying in East Lansing another season.
Bell tweeted, "As hard as it was to leave spartan nation, it was even harder to pass on such a great opportunity I have in front of me! But I love and thank spartan nation for everything! I will always be a Spartan!"
Sims' intentions were first reported yesterday by ESPN and confirmed today through a tweet as well.
"I want to thank #SpartanNation for 4 of the best years of my life! I'll always bleed green & white!!!"
Gholston's decision was first reported by Hondo Carpenter of SpartanNation.com and has not yet been confirmed by Gholston himself.
During his weekly appearance on Sirius XM radio, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said, "It's part of the deal in college football. You're going to have guys leave."
Dantonio later released the following statements:
On Le'Veon Bell:
"Le'Veon Bell established himself as a running back who could carry the load, as he carried the ball over 380 times this season for us. Although he was the Big Ten's leading rusher following the regular season, it was his physical durability that was most impressive.
"As a 20-year-old, Le'Veon faced an extremely difficult decision. While I do believe there was both personal and program value in Le'Veon returning for his senior season, I acknowledge the difficult choice he had to make."
On Dion Sims:
"Despite missing nearly three full games, Dion Sims still earned second-team All-Big Ten honors, so that says something about his production. He's a big target with great hands. With his combination of size and power, Dion is difficult to bring down, so he gains a lot of yards after the catch. He's also a much improved run-blocker.
"Although we'll miss Dion in our offense next season, he felt the timing was right and we wish him all the best in his future. Since returning to Michigan State, our offensive system has helped develop two tight ends that are currently playing in the NFL, in Kellen Davis (Chicago Bears) and Garrett Celek (San Francisco 49ers), so there's a proven track record of our players having success at his position at the next level."