Five Tigers opt for NFL Draft

BATON ROUGE – LSU running back Spencer Ware, punter Brad Wing and cornerback Tharold Simon have opted to forgo their remaining college eligibility and enter the NFL Draft, head coach Les Miles confirmed on Friday.

Ware and Simon were both true juniors, while Wing was a redshirt sophomore making him eligible for the NFL Draft in April. Ware, Wing and Simon join linebacker Kevin Minter and safety Eric Reid as LSU’s early NFL Draft entries.

“I feel confident that I’m ready to go to the NFL,” Ware said. “I want to thank Coach Miles and his staff for helping me develop on the field and mature as both a player and person. I’ve made lifelong friends at LSU and I am extremely grateful that I had an opportunity to attend such an outstanding university.”

Ware was one of the few players in LSU history to rush for a TD, catch a TD pass and throw a touchdown pass during his career. Ware finished with 1,249 rushing yards and 10 TDs to go along with 39 receptions for 404 yards and a pair of scores. He threw a 39-yard TD pass to Rueben Randle against Auburn in 2010.

Wing departs LSU after two seasons as the starting punter. In two years, Wing punted 118 times with a 44.6 average, which ranks as the highest average in school history for a player with at least 100 punts. Wing, who earned first-team All-America honors as a freshman and second-team honors as a sophomore, had 39 punts of 50-yards or more during his career with another 48 punts downed inside the 20-yard line.

“I want to thank the fans, my coaches and my teammates for three amazing years at LSU,” Wing said.

Simon was a two-year starter at cornerback for the Tigers where he recorded 96 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 22 pass breakups and intercepted seven passes. In 2012, Simon led the Tigers in pass breakups with nine and interceptions with four.

“It is with mixed emotions and serious consideration with my family that I have decided to enter the 2013 NFL Draft,” Simon said on Friday. “I have loved every minute of being a LSU Tiger, and my heart will always remain at this incredible institution that taught me so much about being an athlete, student and person. I truly hope that I will be lucky enough to make an NFL roster and do LSU proud.

“I am profoundly grateful for the teammates, coaches, academic advisors and the entire staff at the LSU and in particular Coach Miles who have prepared me for this exciting opportunity.”

Reid, a first-team All-America selection in 2012, has played on teams that won 10 or more games all three years, including last year’s 13-1 squad that captured the Southeastern Conference title and reached the BCS National Championship Game. Reid’s three-year record at LSU was 34-6.

“I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to have been able to play football at LSU,” Reid said. “It was always my dream to go to LSU and play football.

“I want to thank Coach (Les) Miles and all of the people that played a role to get me to this point in my life. This was a very difficult decision because I always wanted to be a Tiger and I love LSU. But, after careful consideration and talking with my family, I feel like this is the right time to make this decision. I will always be a LSU Tiger.”

In his final season with the Tigers in 2012, Reid started all 13 games and finished third on the team in tackles with 91. He had seven pass breakups, two pass interceptions, one tackle for loss and recovered a fumble for an LSU defense that ranked among the best in the nation.

Reid earned was a consensus All-America in 2012 after earning first-team All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America and the American Football Coaches Association. He was also a first-team All-Southeastern Conference pick from both the media and the SEC Coaches.

Reid continued a trend of outstanding defensive backs at LSU as the school has now produced six first-team All-American defensive backs under Les Miles, including four over the past three years.

For his career, Reid played in 39 games, starting 29 times. He finished with 194 career tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and six interceptions.

Minter, a native of Suwanee, Ga., just finished one of the most productive seasons for a Tiger defender in school history, racking up 130 tackles, 15.0 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks and four quarterback hurries. His 130 tackles in 2012 rank as the fifth-highest total in school history, while the 15.0 tackles for loss ties for ninth in LSU history. 

Minter earned first team All-America honors from Sports Illustrated in 2012 and was one of five finalists for the Butkus Award, which goes to the top linebacker in college football. Minter, who was named LSU’s most valuable player in 2012, was also a first team All-Southeastern Conference selection and was twice named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week.

Minter finished his LSU career with 206 total tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks. He played in 38 games, starting 24 times.

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