Pit junior safety Jordan Whitehead intends to declare a year early for the NFL Draft, he announced on Twitter Monday.
Whitehead, 20, is a Central Valley alum and was one of Pitt’s top defensive players in his three seasons with the Panthers.
“After much thought and discussion with my family, I have decided to begin preparing for the next step in my career and enter the 2018 NFL Draft,” Whitehead said in a statement posted to his personal Twitter page. “It has been an honor and a privilege to play for this university, Coach Narduzzi and this coaching staff for the past three years. I would like to think them for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime, but I feel I am ready to take the next step in achieving my dreams.”
He was recognized as a three-time all-ACC player and was a consensus freshman All-American in 2015. Whitehead finishes his Pitt career with 162 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, three interceptions and 12 passes defended in 31 career games.
Whitehead was also an all-purpose player for the Panthers, returning kicks and playing on offense as a running back. He was named to the Hornung Award watch list of the nation’s best all-purpose player before the 2017 season. He had 22 carries for 142 yards and a touchdown this year.
Whitehead is rated as the No. 7 safety in the 2018 draft class by WalterFootball.com, but all of the players ranked above him are also juniors. Whitehead is the second of that group to declare for the NFL draft, after Texas’ DeShon Elliott. WalterFootball.com gave Whitehead a second or third round grade.
After playing 13 games as a freshman, Whitehead played just nine in each of the last two seasons. He missed four games in 2016, three due to injury. He was also suspended for the first three games of the 2017 season due to an undisclosed violation of team rules.
Whitehead is the second Panthers player to declare early for the NFL draft, joining fellow junior Quadree Henderson. Left tackle Brian O’Neill is another potential Pitt player that could depart a season early.