Tulsa star linebacker declares for NFL Draft

It’s curtains on Zaven Collins’ career as a Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

The junior linebacker said Thursday he will declare for the 2021 NFL Draft and forego TU’s Armed Forces Bowl vs. Mississippi State on Dec. 31.

Collins was just named the Nagurski Trophy winner Wednesday, given to the nation’s best defensive player. He also won the American Athletic Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award.

The Hominy, Okla. native is the first Golden Hurricane player to win any current major award in college football. He is the first All-American for TU since offensive lineman Jerry Ostroski in 1991.

He established himself as a clutch, indispensable leader on the field for the Tulsa defense this season. Collins led all linebackers in the nation with four interceptions. Two of those picks came in tight moments - one sealed a win over SMU; the other he returned for a touchdown in overtime to beat Tulane.

Collins finished the regular season with 54 tackles, 11.5 for loss, four sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and one safety.