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FSU, ex-Cardinal Newman star Travis Rudolph officially in NFL draft

Travis Rudolph, Florida State’s leading receiver in 2016 and a former Cardinal Newman star, seemed to confirm Thursday on social media that he was going to enter the upcoming NFL draft. On Friday he finally confirmed his intentions and said why he chose to forgo his senior season.

Rudolph led FSU in receptions (56), receiving yards (840) and receiving touchdowns (seven) in 2016 as a junior.

FSU did not announce Rudolph’s departure Thursday. But his choice was initially reported by Tony Pauline of and was confirmed by a source to The Palm Beach Post. He formally announced on Friday his intentions to enter the draft.

“After carefully considering my options with my family, I have decided that it would be in my best interest to enter the 2017 NFL Draft,” Rudolph said. “This was a very difficult decision and one that I didn’t take lightly. It has truly been an honor to wear the Garnet and Gold.”

Rudolph said he appreciated coach Jimbo Fisher, receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey and FSU administrators for helping him mature on and off the field.

“I would like to thank Coach Fisher and Coach Dawsey for the way they developed me as a player, but most importantly, as a person,” Rudolph said. “I also want to thank the football support staff, academic staff, and student-development for all the hard work they put in to make me an all-around better person in the classroom as well as in the community.”

The decision means that FSU will lose its top four pass catchers from 2016. Kermit Whitfield and Jesus Wilson were seniors and tailback Dalvin Cook turned pro a year early.

Despite the losses, FSU has a group of talented receivers — and Nyqwan Murray (27 catches, 441 yards, 5 TDs) and Auden Tate (25 catches, 409 yards, 6 TDs) gained extensive experience in the second half of 2016. The Seminoles also can mix in Da’Vante Phillips, George Campbell, Keith Gavin and true freshman D.J. Matthews.

The 6-foot-1, 192-pound Rudolph led the Seminoles in receiving the past two years. He finishes in eighth place in FSU history in receiving yards (2,311). Rudolph also had 153 catches and 18 touchdowns.

Rudolph gained national publicity in September when he and several teammates visited Montford Middle School in Tallahassee. During the visit, Rudolph sat down with Bo Paske, a student with autism, who was sitting alone in the school’s cafeteria. Paske’s mother posted on Facebook a photo of her son and Rudolph eating together and praised the player’s kindness. The story quickly went viral.

He is listed as a fourth-round pick in a seven-round mock draft by Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller. Rudolph will need to use the NFL combine, pro day and personal workouts to increase his value to NFL teams.

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