Alabama's annual exodus of underclassmen to the draft began Wednesday with wideout Calvin Ridley, defensive tackle Da'Ron Payne and backup running back Bo Scarbrough all turning pro, but the good news for the defending national champs is that top running back Damien Harris won't be among them.
Ridley, who is rated as the top draft-eligible receiver by ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., announced Wednesday on Twitter that he will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft.
Ridley made his announcement less than 48 hours after the Crimson Tide beat Georgia in the national championship game.
"Having been thoroughly prepared for that next step," he wrote, "I am truly ready."
— CALVIN RIDLEY (@CalvinRidley1) January 10, 2018
Ridley had been Alabama's top receiver since he first set foot on campus as a freshman in 2015, when he caught 89 passes for 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns. All told, he caught 224 passes for 2,781 yards and 19 touchdowns.
On Tuesday, Alabama coach Nick Saban said he met with seven potential early entrants to the draft about their decisions.
Harris, the Tide's top running back who has posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, will be returning for his senior season at Alabama, sources confirmed to ESPN's Chris Low. Kiper ranks Harris as the No. 5 draft-eligible running back.
Payne, an All-SEC selection who was the defensive MVP of both the national championship and semifinal games, will also bypass his senior year to enter the draft, sources confirmed to ESPN.
Ranked No. 3 by Kiper in his draft-eligible position rankings, Payne had six tackles against Georgia in the title game and a key interception and a touchdown reception against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl.
Scarbrough, a former top prospect, will join them in the draft, according to a report by AL.com, which first reported news on Harris and Payne.
Scarbrough has dealt with a number of injuries during his career, which has seen him rush for 1,512 yards in three seasons.
ESPN's Chris Low and Tom VanHaaren contributed to this report.