Given where most of them can expect to go off the board, it's usually no surprise when one of Nick Saban's Alabama players declares for the draft a year early. But safety Vinnie Sunseri will reportedly be an expection.
ESPN reported Sunday that the 6-foot, 210-pound junior would enter the draft despite missing much of the season with a torn ACL suffered in the Tide's Oct. 19 win over Arkansas. He becomes the fifth Tide player this offseason to leave with a season of eligiblity remaining, joining left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, safety Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan and linebacker Adrian Hubbard -- though Sunseri's departure (which al.com called a "stunner") easily ranks as the most surprising of the five.
Sunseri finished his seven-game 2013 season with 20 tackles and two interceptions, both of which were returned for interceptions -- including a pivotal pick-six against Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M in the Tide's barnburning 49-42 victory.
Sunseri is the son of former Alabama assistant and current Florida State defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri, and a graduate of Tuscaloosa's Northridge High School. Sal told al.com earlier in January that Vinnie's rehabilitation from his ACL injury was ahead of schedule and that he could have been medically cleared to play in the Tide's Sugar Bowl appearance.
Though not yet added to their 2014 rankings, Sunseri is ranked as the No. 4 strong safety in the 2015 draft class according to NFLDraftScout.com.