COLUMBIA — Sophomore defensive end Aldon Smith has decided to make himself available for the 2011 NFL Draft. He will give up his final two seasons of eligibility at MU.
"I'd like to thank everyone at Mizzou for supporting me," Smith said. "The coaches, our fans and alumni, everyone has been great, and they've definitely helped me get to this point. It's been my dream for as long as I can remember to play in the NFL, so this is something I'm really excited for."
Head coach Gary Pinkel said he was supportive of Smith's decision, according to a news release.
"There's no question that Aldon is one of the most gifted athletes in the country at his position," Pinkel said. "We'd love to have the chance to coach him longer, but we're 100 percent behind him and supportive with this decision. Aldon gave us three outstanding years, and it's going to be exciting to watch him in the pros, because his best football is ahead of him."
Chad Moller of the athletics department said that Smith was working with the agency Creative Artists in St. Louis. However, Missourian reporters were not able to confirm whether that was his sports agent.
As a redshirt freshman in 2009, he won 1st-Team All-American honors, as well as Big 12 Conference Defensive Freshman and Newcomer of the Year. He also captured the MU single-season record of 11.5 quarterback sacks.
In 10 games in 2010, Smith had 48 total tackles. He was named 1st-Team All-Big 12 by league coaches. His 17 career sacks ties him for the sixth-best record at MU.