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Connecticut's Yawin Smallwood entering NFL draft

Linebacker declaring for NFL draft Aaron Wilson

Print This December 07, 2013, 05:33 PM EST

University of Connecticut junior linebacker Yawin Smallwood is declaring early for the NFL draft.

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound All-Big East Conference selection had 120 tackles and four sacks as a sophomore.

This season, he has 118 tackles, four sacks and one interception.

He released the following statement:

"First, I would like to give my sincere thanks to University of Connecticut for providing me with a
tremendous educational and athletic opportunity. Attaining a higher education has been my lifelong
dream and I could not have made it this far without the love and encouragement from my family and
friends. Thanks to the endless support of my coaches, faculty, and everyone in the athletic department, I
have had the most amazing collegiate experience. I have learned lifelong lessons about responsibilities,
accountability, teamwork, loyalty, friendship, and grace under pressure. With the support of my Mother
and advisers, I have decided to forgo my final season in order to pursue my next dream: to become a great
professional athlete. I plan to enter the 2014 NFL draft."

"I am excited to take this next step in my journey to become a better person, to continue learning,
maturing, and to develop into a responsible, upstanding citizen. I pray I can become not just an honorable
representative of the sport of football, but also a role model and philanthropist, giving back to the
community and doing my part in making this world a better place."

"I would like to say a special thank you to my coaches. Thank you for your patience and your faith in me.
Thank you for never allowing me to settle, compromise, or give anything less than 110%. Thank you for
taking the time to teach me – I appreciate all you have done for me and the wisdom you have shared with
me. I will never forget the invaluable lessons, both on and off the field."

"To my teammates: I could not have made it through these years without you. You have all become my
friends, my teachers, my comrades. Through the glories and the losses, the sweat and tears, I will carry
these memories with me for the rest of my life."

"To the fans of Husky football, and each and every supporter, thank you for the humbling privilege of
playing for you. Thank you for your amazing support throughout the years.
It has been an honor to be apart of the husky family. I will forever call myself a husky and carry it with
respect, admiration, and pride."

"All my best,

Yawin Smallwood"

Follow me on Twitter: @RavensInsider

Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun.

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