NFL Draft 2012: Trent Richardson, Dont'a Hightower, Dre Kirkpatrick Gone

Alabama stars Trent Richardson and Dre Kirkpatrick announced their exits at a Thursday afternoon press conference, with Dont'a Hightower following shortly after.

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NFL Draft 2012: Dont'a Hightower Also Leaving Alabama Early

Shortly after Alabama Crimson Tide stars Trent Richardson and Dre Kirkpatrick announced their declarations for the 2012 NFL Draft at an afternoon press conference, linebacker Dont'a Hightower decided to do the same, reports Chase Goodbread.

SBNation.com's most recent 2012 mock draft has him filling a big hole for the Philadelphia Eagles with their No. 15 pick (not to mention kicking off a run of three straight Alabama players, not including likely first-rounders Richardson and Kirkpatrick):

I'm still amazed that the Eagles could do what they did in free agency last year and completely ignore a gaping hole at linebacker. With Hightower they get a beast who can prevent opponents from continually racking up 150 rushing yards every week.

Hightower led one of the all-time best defenses in tackles, finished second on the team in tackles for loss and quarterback hurries, and added four sacks.

For more on the Tide, visit Alabama blog Roll Bama Roll. For more NFL Draft, visit Mocking the Draft.

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Trent Richardson, Dre Kirkpatrick Declare For 2012 NFL Draft

As expected, Alabama Crimson Tide running back Trent Richardson and defensive back Dre Kirkpatrick are leaving school early to enter the 2012 NFL Draft. Both expressed bittersweet emotions about leaving Alabama. Said Richardson on what he and his contemporaries have accomplished in Tuscaloosa:

To have two national championships in three years is pretty big. To only lose four games since we've been here is big.

Richardson is considered a solid first-rounder, which has otherwise been becoming something of a rarity for modern running backs. Kirkpatrick is also expected to go in the first round. In SBNation.com's latest 2012 mock draft, Kirkpatrick went No. 11 to the Seattle Seahawks and Richardson went No. 21 to the Cincinnati Bengals, along with a host of other Bama players going all over the place.

Coach Nick Saban said both players are committed to returning at some point to finish up their degrees. Richardson has previously said he was torn due to how close he was to graduating.

For more on the Tide, visit Alabama blog Roll Bama Roll. For more NFL Draft, visit Mocking the Draft.

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