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‘Roll Tide for Life’ — Read Bama star’s heartfelt letter to fans as he and two teammates declare for the NFL

Alabama safety Landon Collins makes a tackle during the Tide's victory over Southern Miss.
Alabama safety Landon Collins makes a tackle during the Tide’s victory over Southern Miss.

Four chairs were set up on the stage but only three Alabama players chose to forego their final seasons and jump to the NFL.

Wide receiver Amari Cooper, safety Landon Collins and running back T.J. Yeldon officially announced their decisions today, with Alabama head coach Nick Saban there to compliment them.

Cooper and Yeldon kept their announcements short — Cooper apparently had a class to attend — but they used their time well, thanking the coaching staff, the University and the fans for their support.

Collins took a little longer to say goodbye, making a speech and saying that playing at Alabama and for Saban helped him develop as a player and a man.

“After spending three years in Tuscaloosa, the time has come to take the next step in my journey,” Collins said. “I can’t put into words the three years I spent here.”

Just as Collins was finished at the podium, he tweeted a picture from Instagram with a full letter thanking everyone from Saban, the coaching staff, the university, and all the “Roll Tide Fans” for taking “a young man from New Orleans” as one of their own.

Here is his statement, which ends with “Roll Tide for Life”:

I can’t put into words what these past three years have meant to me not only in my development as a football player but even more importantly as a man. I came in as a 18 year old boy who wanted nothing more than to play for Coach Saban and wear the prestigious “A” on my helmet. Coach Saban along with all the other coaches at Bama have not only mentored me on the field but also showed me the tools I would need to succeed in life outside of football. Hard work, dedication and discipline are not only words in a dictionary but the actual way of life taught to me during my time at the University of Alabama. I can honestly say I am a better man after spending the last 3 years in Tuscaloosa.

Now that the time as come for me to take the next step in my journey I will dearly miss all my teammates who I sweat, cried and laughed with. I have no doubt it is true when they say the best time of your life is when you are playing college football and I wouldn’t have picked a different group of guys to spend that time with.

Lastly but certainly not least I want to thank all the Roll Tide fans that took a young man from New Orleans and took him in as one of their own. I fed off the passion you all showed every Saturday at the games and can’t start to thank you for enough being the BEST FANS IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL!

Both Collins and Cooper were given first round grades by the Alabama coaching staff, and Yeldon said he received a second round grade. Anything below second round for Saban and his evaluators is a “stay in school” grade.

The deadline for players to declare for the NFL Draft is Jan. 15. While players like linebacker Reggie Ragland and defensive lineman Jarran Reed didn’t announce today, they could in the next week, similarly to what safety Vinnie Sunseri did last season.

When asked if any other players could declare, Saban said: “We’ll see how it goes.”

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