Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas intends to apply for early eligibility to enter the 2017 NFL Draft.
"Since pulling out a symbolic Stanford tree and donning nerd glasses on National Signing Day in 2014, I have had the most amazing time of my life. I have grown and matured more than I ever could have imagined," Thomas stated in a release by the school. "I arrived at Stanford somewhat shy and uncertain; now I stand a curious, intelligent, dedicated, and motivated man who is ready to take on any challenge, including the NFL. With the support of my family, I have decided to forgo my last years of eligibility at Stanford and enter the 2017 NFL Draft."
The junior led the Cardinal in tackles for loss (13.5) and sacks (7) on the regular season, finishing second on the team in tackles with 55. He also played a key role in Stanford's 25-23 win over North Carolina in the Sun Bowl, recording a sack of UNC star quarterback Mitch Trubisky late in the fourth quarter to force a punt, thwarting a 2-point conversion attempt near the end of regulation, and earning MVP honors for the game. NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks, who attended the game, noted Thomas' combination of agility and power in showing a variety of pass rush moves.
"Solomon is explosive, strong, athletic, relentless and he's worked extremely hard to put himself in the position to be an early draft pick," said Stanford coach David Shaw. "He's ready for the next challenge. I'm looking forward to hearing his name called early in the 2017 Draft."
College underclassmen face a Jan. 16 deadline to apply for early draft eligibility.