Players have until January 15 to throw their name into the ring for the 2016 NFL Draft, and the latest college star to do so is Michigan State offensive lineman Jack Conklin. Michigan State announced Conklin's decision this afternoon.
">January 6, 2016
Mark Dantonio had some high praise for his three year starter, and stands behind his decision.
“Jack Conklin is a gifted athlete, who embodies all of the qualities of the ideal left tackle,” Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. “He’s an intelligent player, who runs extremely well for his size. Jack was an impact player in our starting lineup for the last three years, and his toughness permeated the entire offensive line.
“The pre-draft numbers project Jack as a probable first-round selection, and there’s no doubt that he’ll be an outstanding tackle at the next level. He’s well prepared to transition into the next chapter of his life, and we wish him nothing but the best as he chases his dream of playing in the NFL. He’s not only been a major contributor over the last three seasons, but he’s also been a tremendous ambassador for our football program.”
Conklin also spoke at length about his decision.
“The decision to forgo my final year was a very difficult decision,” Conklin said. “I took time to talk to my family and the coaches to find out what the best decision would be for me. Ultimately, my family and I felt it was time to take the next step and start training for the NFL. I’m excited about it.
“I’m going to really miss being at Michigan State and everything about this place. I’ve loved it. Coach D was great – he gave me a chance to play Division I football when no one else believed in me. For him to give me that chance and to now be in this position is unbelievable. It’s a blessing to have been able to work with Coach D, Coach Staten and Coach Bollman. They really helped mentor me, especially in the ways of becoming a great offensive lineman. I’ll take everything that they’ve taught me and use it at the next level to help me become even a better player.
“My career really comes down to being part of a team and a group of guys that put Michigan State back on the map. When I first got here, the teams in the past started to build a foundation here. While I was here, my teammates and I really have created this sense of championships around Michigan State. When you hear the name Michigan State, you think of Big Ten Championships and now, a team that’s going to be in playoff contention, year in and year out. The great thing about it is this is a legacy now that we’ve created here and will go on for years and years and years and really has a bright future ahead. “My first goal is to become a first-round draft pick,” Conklin continued. “That’s been my dream since I was a little kid. I feel like I’m in the situation where I have the capability of doing that going into training now. One day I want to be a Pro Bowler; I want to be an All-Pro guy, and those are the types of goals I have set for myself now, but none of that would be capable without the experience I’ve had here at Michigan State and the opportunity I was given.”
CBS Sports ranks Conklin fourth among offensive tackles and grade him as a first rounder.