Illinois linebacker Jake Hansen declared for the NFL Draft on Monday afternoon, announcing his decision via Twitter.
“It has been an honor to wear the Orange and Blue at Memorial Stadium in front of the best fans in the nation,” Hansen wrote. “Thank you to Coach [Lovie] Smith for helping me grow as a man and a player.”
Hansen, a fifth-year senior, had the option to come back under new head coach Bret Bielema due to the pandemic eligibility rule.
During his time at Illinois, he epitomized Lovie Ball, forcing 10 fumbles (third-most in program history) and leading the nation in forced fumbles in 2019. Hansen also had 14 takeaways over the last two seasons, the most of any player in the nation.
Hansen was named to watch lists for the Butkus, Bednarik and Nagurski awards during his time at Illinois. The Florida native was also an All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2019 and All-Big Ten second team (Media) and third team (Coaches) in 2020.
Hansen was able to continue the Illini legacy of strong linebackers, and has decided to take the next step for his career.
A hard worker and a leader, expect some team to take a shot at Hansen come Draft season.