Arizona Wildcats redshirt junior defensive lineman Larry Tharpe Jr. will forgo his final year of eligibility and declare for the 2018 NFL Draft, he announced Friday on Twitter.
“Dear Wildcat Nation,” Tharpe wrote, “after long discussion with my family and close friends I’ve decided that it is best for my well-being to forgo my last year of eligibility and declare for the NFL Draft. I believe that I am ready to move on to the next chapter of my life both on and off the field. I want to thank Coach Amey, Coach Rod, and Coach DiAngelo for giving me the opportunity to play at this great university and also thanks to the Wildcat Nation for supporting me ever since I arrived in Tucson. I will forever be a Wildcat. Bear Down.”
Tharpe joined Arizona as a walk-on at the start of fall semester in 2016, missing preseason camp, but eventually earned playing time toward the end of the season, finishing with 16 tackles (2.5 for loss) and three pass deflections in eight games.
Five of those tackles were made in the Territorial Cup vs. ASU.
But the 6-foot-5, 280-pound Tharpe was unable to carry that momentum into the 2017 season, as he had just 13 tackles in 11 games.
Before arriving at Arizona, Tharpe redshirted at Idaho State in 2014 before becoming a standout at Tyler Community College in 2015.
Tharpe’s father was an offensive tackle in the NFL for nine seasons including stints with the Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Tharpe is the second defensive lineman to leave the Wildcats this offseason, as redshirt junior Marcus Griffin announced his attention to graduate in the spring and transfer to another school for the 2018 season.
Tharpe’s decision to leave is surprising because he is unlikely to be selected in April’s draft, but there is uncertainty looming around the UA program after the firing of Rich Rodriguez so maybe that had to do with his departure.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire