COLUMBIA — Missouri is losing another talented piece of its roster to the NFL draft.
Monday morning, tight end Albert Okwuegbunam announced his intentions to go pro, a day after defensive tackle Jordan Elliott did the same. Both are redshirt juniors.
"Thank you Mizzou Nation," Okwuegbunam said in a post on social media. "I'm beyond thankful for my experiences at this outstanding University. I've learned so much about the game of football and life over these past 4 years. Through trial and triumph these experiences undoubtedly molded me in to the player/man I am today. I am extremely thankful for all my coaches throughout my career so far and their everlasting impact on and off the field. But most importantly I am thankful for my brothers and the extremely tight bonds I've formed over these years. Through the ups and downs we've always stayed solid and supported each other when at times it felt no one else was and I can't thoroughly express the gratitude I'll always have for that.
"Ever since the first time I put on a helmet and shoulder pads, playing in the NFL has been my dream. God-wiling (sic) I've been blessed with this opportunity and I have decided to embark on that journey now. I will forgo my last year of eligibility and declare for the 2020 NFL Draft. I'm excited for what the future holds but will always be thankful to Missouri. MIZ!"
Okwuegbunam, from Springfield, Ill., led the nation in touchdown receptions by a tight end as a redshirt freshman, and his 11 touchdowns were more than any other Southeastern Conference pass-catcher that season. He finishes his Missouri career with 98 receptions for 1,187 yards and 23 touchdowns, including six multiscore games, surpassing Chase Coffman for the most multiscore games by a tight end in program history.
Okwuegbunam's best performances included four catches for 57 yards and three scores against Idaho and five catches for 116 yards and two scores against Vanderbilt, both in 2017, and six catches for 159 yards and three scores against Memphis in 2018. He was injured early in the Florida game two weeks after Memphis and did not play the rest of the season, and had 26 catches for 306 yards and six scores this season.
Missouri also confirmed Tuesday freshman quarterback Connor Bazelak tore his right ACL during his first collegiate start Friday against Arkansas. Bazelak was scrambling on a third-and-14 in the second quarter when he tried to make a move and appeared to fall forward into Razorback defender Joe Foucha before being gang tackled.
Bazelak, who played in three games this season, completed 15-of-21 passes for 144 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. He is scheduled to have surgery next week, according to Missouri.