Washington DT Vita Vea says he'll forgo senior year, enter NFL draft

Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea made it official Monday night, announcing that he plans to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

Vea revealed the news in a social media post in which he also thanked his coaches, teammates and fans.

A 6-foot-5, 340-pound space-eating interior lineman, Vea is projected by ESPN's Todd McShay to be a first-round draft pick. He was the centerpiece of a Washington defense that allowed the fewest rushing yards in the FBS during the regular season.

Vea's decision to turn pro didn't come as a surprise. It was first reported by the Seattle Times after Washington's 35-28 loss to Penn State at the Playstation Fiesta Bowl on Saturday night; he confirmed the choice Monday.

"As I begin the next chapter of my football career, I will never forget where it all began," he wrote in the post Monday. "The University of Washington is a special place. ... I cherish every game I was able to play in purple and gold."

Vea won the Pac-12 defensive player of the year award this season after making 43 tackles and 3.5 sacks.