Washington DT Vita Vea intends to enter 2018 NFL Draft

The Pac-12's top defensive player is planning to move on to the next level in 2018.

Washington redshirt junior DT Vita Vea told the Seattle Times after UW's loss to Penn State in Saturday's Fiesta Bowl that he intends to hire an agent and apply for early entry into the 2018 NFL Draft. He also said there was talk about him sitting out the bowl game, but Vea played and recorded six tackles.

Vea, a mammoth 6-foot-5, 340-pound nose tackle, led a Huskies defense that ranked third in the country in rushing defense (allowing just 92.3 yards per game) and fifth overall in total defense (277.4 yards allowed per game) entering the postseason. The big D-lineman started every game for Washington this season, recording 44 tackles, including 5.5 for loss (3.5 sacks).

NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah was surprised Vea returned to the Huskies instead of entering the draft after last season.

"I was shocked when Vea decided to return to Washington," Jeremiah said in July. "He likely would've been a top-20 pick in the 2017 draft. He's a better version of Dontari Poe."

Vea was No. 17 in NFL.com analyst Chad Reuter's ranking of the top 25 future NFL stars of the 2017 regular season.

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