Tennessee star receiver Jalin Hyatt declared for the 2023 NFL Draft following a breakout junior season and will not play in the Orange Bowl against Clemson. Hyatt became Tennessee's first Biletnikoff Award winner this year after making 67 catches for 1,267 yards and 15 touchdowns.
"I have tried to the best of my ability to honor those who have come before me and pay it forward for those who will come after," Hyatt wrote in a statement. "That Volunteer spirit will remain with me forever as I pursue a lifelong dream of playing in the NFL."
Hyatt tied an SEC record with five touchdown receptions in the Volunteers' 52-49 win over Alabama on Oct. 15 in what amounted to one of this season's greatest individual performances. That game thrust Hyatt into the national spotlight as Tennessee marched to an 8-0 start and a brief stint at No. 1 in the College Football Playoff Rankings.
At 6-foot and 175 pounds, Hyatt lacks prototypical NFL size. Still, he showed elite speed and deep-threat ability in coach Josh Heupel's explosive offensive system. The former four-star prospect made 20 catches as a freshman and 21 as a sophomore before standing out as one of college football's top breakout talents.
So thankful for my @Vol_Football teammates, coaches and all of Vol Nation. It’s been an amazing ride. After careful consideration, I have decided to begin preparation for the 2023 NFL Draft. #VFL 🙏 pic.twitter.com/Y42GMG0hoY— Jalin Hyatt (@jalinhyatt) December 14, 2022
"Though I will not be playing in the Orange Bowl, I will be there in Miami to support my teammates like I always have," Hyatt wrote.
Hyatt's draft stock
Hyatt is the No. 6 wide receiver in the 2023 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings and projected as the No. 21 overall pick in a recent mock draft from NFL Draft writer Ryan Wilson.
"Hyatt wasn't in the first-round conversation heading into the season but he's a great example of a player taking advantage of his opportunities, thanks in large part to Hendon Hooker's Heisman Trophy campaign," Wilson wrote. "Hyatt is a bona fide deep threat who consistently stacks defensive backs who have been helpless to do much about it all season."
Impact on Tennessee
With Hyatt and fellow star receiver Cedric Tillman opting out to prepare for the NFL Draft, and star quarterback Hendon Hooker out for the year, the Tennessee offense will be without its best players when it takes on Clemson. However, the Tigers are also dealing with their own wave of NFL Draft declarations; All-ACC linebacker Trenton Simpson and All-ACC defensive end Myles Murphy will be among those out for the Orange Bowl.
Without Tillman and Hyatt, the Orange Bowl will be a preview of the 2023 season for Tennessee's offense. Look for Bru McCoy, Ramel Keyton and Squirrel White to serve as Joe Milton's top targets for the game.