Utah's Joe Kruger declares for 2013 NFL Draft

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Joe Kruger will skip his senior season to enter the 2013 NFL Draft, leaving another big hole along the Utes defensive line.

Utah defensive end Joe Kruger will enter the 2013 NFL Draft, skipping his senior season with the Utes. The university announced the decision on Wednesday afternoon, and Kruger also issued a statement on his three-year tenure in Kyle Whittingham's program (via Deseret News):

"These past three years, I have been honored to be a part of a very special group of teammates and coaches at the University of Utah. I have cherished what has been my amazing college experience," Kruger said. "The privilege to play under someone as great as Coach Kyle Whittingham has been a tremendous opportunity. The experience of playing together with my brother Dave has been priceless. Now it is my journey to pursue a lifelong dream, which is to become a professional football player in the National Football League."

Kruger will join his brother Paul, a productive linebacker with the Ravens, in the professional ranks. Tony Bergstrom, Kruger's brother-in-law, also plays in the NFL as an offensive lineman for the Oakland Raiders. His brother Dave finished his career at Utah this season, playing four years along the defensive line.

Kruger made an instant impact as soon he joined the program, playing in all 13 games as a true freshman. He led the Utes with six sacks in 2012, rushing off the edge at 6'7 and 280 pounds. While he certainly has NFL-caliber size and skill, the announcement to skip his final season comes as a moderate surprise. Star Lotulelei, Kruger's teammate on the defensive line, is expected to go near the top of April's draft.

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