UCLA redshirt junior Caleb Wilson declared for the NFL draft Thursday, leaving the Bruins without one of their top playmakers on offense.
After his redshirt sophomore season was cut short by a Lisfranc injury, the 6-foot-4 tight end led the Bruins in receiving this past year with 965 receiving yards on 60 catches and four touchdowns.
“Although I will miss playing with my brothers, I am excited to attack my life-long dream of playing in the NFL,” Wilson wrote on Twitter, thanking his coaches, UCLA fans, his teammates and his family.
— Caleb Wilson (@calebwilson81) December 6, 2018
He was a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award, which is given to the top tight end in the country, led the nation in receiving yards for a tight end, and was UCLA’s only player named to All-Pac-12 first team.
Wilson, a former USC walk-on, had all three of UCLA’s 100-yard receiving games this year, saving his best performance for the season finale against Stanford when he had 184 receiving yards on nine catches. He caught a school-record 15 passes for 208 yards in UCLA’s epic comeback win over Texas A&M in 2017.
CBS Sports had him as the No. 38 overall prospect for this draft class and the No. 2 tight end in November. Wilson is a third-round pick in Walter Football’s Dec. 6 mock draft.
The former Gardena Serra quarterback made it a point this offseason to improve his run blocking, which allowed UCLA to rely on three-tight end sets to spring running back Joshua Kelley for a breakout year.
Although he asserted himself in the run game more, Wilson struggled with uncharacteristic drops at times this season.
With Wilson’s departure, the Bruins have Devin Asiasi and Jordan Wilson leading the tight ends group, with freshmen Matt Alaimo and David Priebe following. Alaimo and Priebe will be redshirt freshmen next year after retaining their first years of eligibility.
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