Gophers tight end Williams declares for NFL Draft

Big Ten Tight End of the Year Maxx Williams will enter this year's NFL Draft.

Jesse Johnson/Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — After a breakout sophomore season, Gophers tight end Maxx Williams is turning pro.

The University of Minnesota announced Friday that the redshirt sophomore will forego his final two seasons to enter this year’s NFL Draft. Williams, a Waconia, Minn., native, led the Gophers this season in receptions (36), receiving yards (569) and touchdown catches (8). In doing so, he was named the Big Ten Tight End of the Year and an All-American. He was also a finalist for the Mackey Award as one of the nation’s top tight ends.

"We appreciate all that Maxx and his family have done for the program," Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill said in a statement. "They are great people and we wish nothing but the best for Maxx as he begins his professional career. Maxx has been an integral part in laying the foundation for our program and has helped move our team forward."

Williams had one of his best games — and most impressive plays — in Thursday’s Citrus Bowl game against Missouri. He finished with seven catches for 98 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown catch in which he hurdled two separate Tigers defenders on his way to the end zone.

"Plays like that show he’s a first-rounder," Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner said of Williams’ touchdown.

After Thursday’s game, Williams was asked about his future with the Gophers. He answered by saying he’d sit down with his family to figure out the best decision. Less than 24 hours later, it was announced he was leaving early.

Williams will hope to follow in the footsteps of his father, Brian, who was an offensive lineman with the New York Giants for nine seasons after playing at Minnesota.

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