Liuget Joins Leshoure, Wilson in 2011 NFL Draft

Corey Liuget joins teammates Mikel Leshoure and Martez Wilson in entering the 2011 NFL Draft.
Corey Liuget joins teammates Mikel Leshoure and Martez Wilson in entering the 2011 NFL Draft.

Jan. 19, 2011

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget has officially announced that he will forgo his senior season at Illinois to enter the 2011 NFL Draft, joining Illini teammates Mikel Leshoure and Martez Wilson in declaring after his junior season.

"Playing at the University of Illinois was a wonderful experience that I will always remember, but I feel that I am ready to take the next step and enter the NFL Draft," Liuget said. "I want to give a special thanks to Coach Zook and the entire coaching staff, as well as all of the support staff and academic counselors at Illinois. I especially want to thank my teammates and all the Fighting Illini fans out there who made college such a great experience.

"During my time at Illinois," Liuget continued, "I have become a more responsible young man and have developed the character that I will need to make this journey a success. For that I will always be grateful."

Liuget had a career year in 2010, earning fourth-team All-America honors from Phil Steele and second-team All-Big Ten accolades after recording 63 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 10 quarterback hurries and three passes broken up. He was a force in Illinois' 38-14 win over Baylor in the 2010 Texas Bowl, recording five tackles, 2.5 TFLs and a sack, earning him recognition on's 2010 All-Bowl Team. During the Oct. 16 game at Michigan State, Liuget collected a career-high 11 tackles, the most by an Illini defensive tackle since 1996. During his three-year Illinois career, Liuget had 125 tackles, 25.5 TFLs and 8.5 sacks.

"Corey has worked extremely hard to get to this position and I'm very proud that he'll have the opportunity to realize his dream of playing in the NFL," Illinois head coach Ron Zook said. "He emerged as a tremendous leader this season and was an anchor on our defensive line. I'm confident that Corey will have a very long and successful professional career, and I wish him nothing but the best as he moves on to the next level."

Illinois is one of just four schools to have three underclassmen enter this year's draft, joining Alabama, Auburn and Pittsburgh.

With Liuget, Leshoure and Wilson all declaring early this year, six Illini in the last four years have entered the draft after their junior seasons. In 2008, running back Rashard Mendenhall was picked in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2009, the Miami Dolphins selected cornerback Vontae Davis in the first round. And in 2010, wide receiver Arrelious Benn was a second-round pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The 2011 NFL Draft will take place April 28-30 at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

The official list of players granted special eligibility for the 2011 NFL Draft