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Jalin Hyatt declares for NFL Draft, opts out of Orange Bowl

What an incredible rise.

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Jamar Coach/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Jalin Hyatt is cashing in on his incredible 2022 season and turning pro, as expected. The Biletnikoff award winner made the announcement this afternoon via Instagram, also saying that he will not play in the Orange Bowl as he begins preparations for the 2023 NFL Draft.

The former four-star recruit out of South Carolina alway had game-breaker potential, but it took him two seasons to come into his own. As a freshman, Hyatt torched Alabama a couple of times, providing us with a glimpse of what he could offer. An injury derailed his sophomore season, but he came back stronger than ever in 2022.

Hyatt exploded onto the college football scene with five touchdown receptions against Alabama, powering Tennessee to a dramatic 52-49 win in Knoxville. It wasn’t anything too complicated scheme-wise — Alabama just didn’t have anyone that could run with Hyatt.

That game jump-started his season, and he poured it on from there. 67 catches for 1,267 yards and 15 touchdowns was his final total, numbers good enough to be recognized by the Biletnikoff as the nation’s best receiver.

The 6-0, 185 pound burner now sets his sights on the professional level, where teams will be highly interested in his elite speed. Recent mock drafts have Hyatt going in the first round, completing a stunning rise from being a national unknown in the offseason.

For the Orange Bowl, Tennessee will now be without both Cedric Tillman and Jalin Hyatt. Bru McCoy and Ramel Keyton will be the main targets, but I’d guess that Squirrel White gets most of the run out of the slot position. It’s a true preview of 2023 against a really good Clemson defense.

Tennessee has also been looking at receivers in the portal, so that’s something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.

For Hyatt, draft prep begins now. We’ll next see him live at the NFL Combine, where he’ll have plenty of eyes on his 40 yard dash. The NFL Draft is set for April 27th-29th.