Ole Miss

Ole Miss loses defensive standout to NFL Draft

Ole Miss defensive tackle Breeland Speaks (9) celebrates after they defeated Auburn 27-19 Oct. 31, 2015, in Auburn, Ala. Speaks has declared for the NFL Draft.
Ole Miss defensive tackle Breeland Speaks (9) celebrates after they defeated Auburn 27-19 Oct. 31, 2015, in Auburn, Ala. Speaks has declared for the NFL Draft. AP

Standout Ole Miss defensive lineman Breeland Speaks announced through the school Tuesday that he plans to forgo his senior season and enter the upcoming NFL Draft.

“After discussing it with my family, I have decided to forgo my senior season and enter the 2018 NFL Draft. There are so many people I want to thank including Chancellor Vitter, Mr. Bjork, Coach Luke, the coaching staff, my teammates and everyone at the university for an awesome four years,” Speaks said in a statement. “Most of all, I thank Rebel Nation for the incredible support they gave me from day one. I was proud to Lock The Vaught every Saturday in my home state, and now I look forward to representing Ole Miss at the next level.”

Speaks redshirted as a freshman in 2014 but went on to play in every game the last three years for Ole Miss. During that time he developed into an All-SEC caliber defender. He made 32 tackles and with 5.5 TFLs and one sack as a freshman, followed by 28 tackles with 1.5 TFLs and another sack last year. As a junior, Speaks stepped up his game, recording career highs with 61 tackles, eight TFLs and seven sacks. His seven sacks were good enough for sixth in the SEC, while his eight TFLs ranked third.

“I have seen Breeland grow as a person and a player over the last four years, and we’re excited to see him take this next step in his career,” Ole Miss coach Matt Luke said. “I am particularly proud of the leadership he brought to our team amidst the challenges we faced. He is a true Rebel, and we look forward to watching him continue our program’s rich NFL tradition.”

In a recent mock draft, WalterFootball.com projected Speaks to go 120th overall to the Cleveland Browns.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

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