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Western Kentucky defensive back Dionte Ruffin (left) breaks up a pass intended for Liberty’s Emanuel Dabney on Sept. 19 during WKU’s 30-24 loss at Houchens-Smith Stadium.

Another Hilltopper has decided to enter the 2021 NFL Draft.

Western Kentucky senior cornerback Dionte Ruffin announced his intention Friday to enter the draft with a post on Twitter.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank every single player and coach that has encouraged me to be a better man, on and off the field within my four year journey here at Western Kentucky University,” Ruffin wrote. “I would also like to thank my family and all of my supporters who have been on this wild but amazing journey with me. I will miss my teammates but may the brotherhood always stay strong.

“A lifelong goal of mine is to become a professional athlete and I believe now is my chance to achieve this goal of mine. With that being said, I am declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft and prayerfully furthering my football career.”

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Kenner, La., native started all 12 games in WKU’s 5-7 season this fall with 23 tackles, an interception and 11 pass breakups. He also recovered a fumble.

Ruffin was named to the All-Conference USA Second Team this season, and was named to the PFF College National Team of the Week on Sept. 19, after being named to the PFF College C-USA Team of the Week twice earlier in his career.

Ruffin has been a main contributor in Clayton White’s defense the last four years, including starting every game last season and playing in all 12 as a sophomore. He appeared in 11 games as a true freshman out of Paulding County High School.

He could have been eligible to play another season of college football because the NCAA Division I Council in August approved a blanket waiver to give fall sport student-athletes an additional year of eligibility and an additional year to complete it.

Ruffin is the third WKU player to declare for the NFL Draft since the season concluded with a loss to Georgia State in the LendingTree Bowl on Dec. 26. Nickelback Trae Meadows announced his intentions Thursday in a post on Twitter, and safety Devon Key did the same Monday.

Meadows, a redshirt senior defensive back, has decided not to use the blanket eligibility waiver the NCAA provided for 2020 fall sport student-athletes, and instead declared his intentions to enter the NFL draft in a Twitter post Thursday.

“Pursuing the NFL has been a lifelong dream of mine & it would allow me to provide for my family just by doing something I love to do everyday,” Meadows wrote in a letter “To Hilltopper Nation, Family & Friends.” “It was tough decision to make because of the love for my teammates but I believe now is the time to take my next step in life. With that being said, I am foregoing my remaining year of eligibility to enter the 2021 NFL Draft.”

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound nickelback started all 12 games for the 5-7 Hilltoppers this season. He recorded 28 tackles, including a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss, an interception, four pass breakups, a forced fumble and a blocked kick this fall. Meadows also started all 13 games in 2019 in his first season at WKU and was named a Conference USA Honorable Mention selection both seasons.

Meadows came to WKU from Garden City Community College, where he had 34 tackles, 12 pass breakups and a 94-yard interception return for a touchdown. He was rated as a three-star junior college prospect by 247Sports. He started his career at North Carolina State.

“I want to start off by giving praise & thanks to God because he made all of this possible for me,” Meadows wrote. “I’ve had a football in my hands ever since I was 2 years old & fell in love with the game at an early age. The past 5 years of my life have been quite the journey. Because of that, I’m grateful for everyone who has helped me through it. I would like to thank my high school coaches, juco coaches & the coaches here at WKU for grooming me into the man & football player I am today. I would also like to personally thank my Mother for staying with me through it all & never giving up on me.”

Despite being a redshirt senior this season, Meadows could have played another season of college football.

The NCAA Division I Council in August approved a blanket waiver to give fall sport student-athletes an additional year of eligibility and an additional year to complete it.

– Follow sports reporter Jared MacDonald on Twitter @JMacDonaldSport or visit bgdailynews.com.

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