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Penn State Football: Jesse James Latest To Declare For NFL Draft

by on January 05, 2015 5:50 PM

A third Nittany Lion will be taking his talents to the NFL Draft and forgoing a final year of eligiblity.

Tight end Jesse James announced his decision on Monday evening.

The 2014 All-Big Ten honorable mention selection started every game the past two seasons and 31 contests in his career.

James leaves Penn State with 11 career touchdown receptions, breaking a tie with College Football Hall of Fame inductee Ted Kwalick against Maryland this past November for the school record by a tight end.

He made a season-long 44-yard touchdown catch and run in the win over Akron, for his third career scoring grab of 40 yards or longer. He increased his number of catches each year by at least 10 the past two seasons, making 15 catches in 2012, 25 in 2013 and 38 this past season. 

"After serious consideration and much discussion with my family, teammates and coaches, I have opted to declare for the 2015 NFL Draft,” James said. “Competing on Sundays has always been my dream and I believe the time to pursue this dream is now. This was an extremely difficult decision to make—my time at Penn State has been amazing and unforgettable. I would like to thank Penn State University, Coach (James) Franklin, Coach (John) Donovan; along with everyone on our incredible coaching staff.

“I want to personally thank my teammates for the memories and lifelong friendships that we have created together. I would especially like to thank the Penn State fans who have stood by us and have provided unconditional support for our team. I will never forget the remarkable experiences that we’ve shared."

"We want to thank Jesse for all he’s done at Penn State and wish him all the best in the NFL," Penn State head coach James Franklin said. "Jesse has been a big contributor for the program on and off the field and we’re looking forward to watching him at the next level.”

With the departure of James and graduates Deion Barnes and Donovan Smith for the NFL Draft, Penn State returns 15 starters (7 offense, 7 defense, 1 specialist), and 14 additional players who have started, for the 2015 season.

Penn State will return tight ends Kyle Carter, Mike Gesicki , and Brent Wilkerson next season as well as Adam Breneman, who missed the 2014 season with an injury after starting five games as a true freshman in 2013. While James will be a lost asset for offensive coordinator John Donovan, the tight end position should continue to be full of talent.

Carter, who will be a senior in 2015, started 10 games this past season and has 16 career starts.

James is working with the staff from the Morgan Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes to develop a plan to complete his degree in kinesiology.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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