Photo: Craig Cappy — LSU Linebacker Kevin Minter tackles Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd for a loss in the Chik-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome.
Peachtree Ridge graduate Kevin Minter, projected to go in the second round if not the late first, will enter the NFL draft rather than return to Louisiana State for a fourth season.
Minter, who has received his degree in sports management, was a first-team All-SEC pick and a second-team All-American choice as a redshirt junior before capping the season by being named defensive player of the game in the Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome.
LSU lost to Clemson 25-24 on a last-second field goal, but Minter was in on 19 tackles (seven solo). He had a sack and two other tackles for losses.
Minter's 130 tackles for the season rank fourth all-time at LSU and were the most since 2002. He was a finalist for the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker.
"I had to work hard and compete for everything I got, and that's made me appreciate it that much more," said Minter, who had started just 11 games at LSU before this season.
LSU's Les Miles praised Minter after the Chick-fil-A Bowl. "Just a great leader, great player," the coach said.
Minter, who is 6-foot-2 and 244 pounds, is the third rated linebacker by ESPN's Scout.com and the 33rd ranked player overall.
As many as four other LSU defensive players could declare for the NFL draft.
"It was a very difficult (decision)," Minter told ESPN Radio 104.5 FM in Baton Rouge. "I love LSU. There's a reason why I came to wear the purple and gold. I love the atmosphere there. I love the coaches. It's hard leaving all that, but it's something I had to do for me and my family."