TUSCALOOSA — Alabama lost another receiver to the NFL draft but got good news on another front when DeVonta Smith announced he was returning for his final season Monday.
While Tua Tagovailoa’s turning pro announcement was the major news, Henry Ruggs III followed with an announcement of his own that he also was forgoing his final season with the Crimson Tide to turn pro. Ruggs made his announcement via The Player’s Tribune late Monday afternoon.
"I can honestly say that, as a member of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team, I tried my very best to do everything I could to help my team, my brothers, every way I could — every game, every practice, every day," Ruggs wrote. "In the process I have learned so much, about football and about life. And I truly believe that I’ve grown immeasurably as a player since that day back in the spring of 2017 when I left Montgomery for Tuscaloosa.
"So now, once again, I find myself at a point in my life where, as tough as it is, it’s time to leave home again."
Ruggs reportedly received a second-round grade from the NFL's College Advisory Committee but is considered one of the fastest players in college football and could certainly help his draft stock with a standout performance at the NFL Combine in February. He's expected to begin combine training later this week in Florida.
According to those close to the situation, Ruggs had been going back and forth regarding whether to return to school for his senior season or leave for the NFL. It wasn't until Ruggs left the Citrus Bowl game Jan. 1 with a concussion that the Montgomery native effectively made up his mind to take advantage of this NFL opportunity ahead of him and leave school early.
Ruggs ranked third with 40 receptions for 746 yards and seven touchdowns this past season. He finishes his Alabama career with 1,716 receiving yards and ranks third all-time in program history with 24 career touchdowns.
Minutes after Tagovailoa declared he was turning pro, the other side of Alabama's infamous "second-and-26" touchdown play from the 2018 national championship game made his own announcement.
Smith announced over social media that he planned to return to Tuscaloosa for his senior season.
"There's a lot I have left to accomplish as a player and as a student, and I feel that my time is not up at Alabama," Smith wrote in a social media message. "I have unfinished business to take care of and the only way to do that is to stay one more year. After praying and talking with my family and Coach (Nick) Saban, I've decided that I will return for my senior season."
Running back Najee Harris is the only draft-eligible junior left to decide his future.
Smith, who reportedly received a second-round draft grade from the NFL's College Advisory Committee, led Alabama with 1,256 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns on 68 catches this past season as one of the Tide's two 1,000-yard receivers along with fellow junior receiver Jerry Jeudy (77 catches for 1,163 yards and 10 touchdowns).