Abbate leaves Wake Forest after three years to go pro

Wake Forest junior linebacker Jon Abbate has signed with an agent and will enter the NFL draft.

Abbate, 5-foot-11, 245 pounds, led the Demon Deacons with 120 tackles, including six for loss and three sacks.

"I've wanted to reach this dream of playing in the NFL since I was a little kid," Abbate said Saturday. "The hardest part will not playing alongside my best friends."

Abbate is one of only three players in ACC history to lead his team in tackles for three straight seasons.

"I'm going to have to show my speed at the combine," Abbate said. "And I'm going to have to show that size doesn't matter. I'm 5-11, but I play like I'm 6-4."

Abbate dedicated this past season to Luke Abbate, his younger brother who died in a car accident last February. Abbate said it played a part in his decision.

"It was heavy on my heart," Abbate said. "You don't know when your life will end and when your opportunity comes, so you want to capitalize on it. Luke would have wanted this."

Joe Schad covers college football for ESPN.