Willie Gay’s career in Starkville is over.

The Starkville native turned down many national offers out of high school to stay close to home and play for Mississippi State but now he’s ready for the next chapter of his playing career as the linebacker has announced on Monday that he will leave school early for the 2020 NFL Draft.

Thanks to his involvement in the academic misconduct issues in Starkville leading up to the 2019 season, Gay missed eight games last fall but still managed to make an impact on the Hail State defense this season. Gay finishes his Mississippi State career with 99 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss, six sacks, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

While he may have never lived up to his All-American potential at Mississippi State, Gay could be one of the first linebackers selected in the 2020 NFL Draft based on talent alone. Should he have some impressive pre-draft showings, don’t be surprised when you see Gay’s name skyrocket up draft boards in the weeks and months to come.

Gay officially announced his decision with the following post: