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Arizona running back Gary Brightwell declares for 2021 NFL Draft

USC v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona Wildcats running back Gary Brightwell announced Sunday that he is entering the 2021 NFL Draft.

A senior, Brightwell could have taken advantage of the free year of eligibility that student-athletes were given in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but called a chance to play in the NFL his “childhood dream.”

The big but speedy Brightwell led the Wildcats in yards from scrimmage in the condensed 2020 season, rushing for 386 yards and a touchdown on 4.5 yards per carry while also catching 13 passes for 53 yards.

Brightwell has been candid about his NFL aspirations in the past, saying in 2019 that he doesn’t have a fallback plan if his dream doesn’t pan out.

“If I had a backup plan, there’s no reason to have played football,” he said. “If I didn’t want to do it professionally, I probably wouldn’t have come to college.” projects Brightwell will be a seventh-round pick or high-priority undrafted free agent. If selected, Brightwell would become Arizona’s first offensive player to be drafted since Ka’Deem Carey in 2014.