Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley became the first highly touted 2021 NFL Draft prospect to opt out of playing college football in 2020 on Wednesday. He released a video to ESPN explaining why he won't be suiting up for the Hokies this season.

"After much consideration with my family, I have decided to opt out of the 2020 college football season and begin preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft," Farley said. "I am opting out due to uncertain health conditions and regulations and all the other opt-outs going on in football right now. I tragically lost my mother, Robin, Jan. 2, 2018 to an illness, and I cannot afford to lose another parent or a loved one. Though the competitor in me badly wants to play this season, I cannot ignore what's going on in my heart, and I must make the decision that brings me the most peace. So thank you Virginia Tech, my coaches, teammates and anyone else who has supported me in the past. I wish you all the best. Stay safe, and God bless."

Virginia Tech's transition to a new era of defense after legendary coordinator Bud Foster's retirement was on track to be aided by the return of 10 starters from last year's defense. But losing Farley will sting as the Hokies transition to first-year defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton.

Farley earned First-Team All-ACC honors as a redshirt sophomore in 2019 by leading the league with 16 passes defend and tying for second with four interceptions. The Hickory, North Carolina native is widely considered one of the top-five cornerbacks in the 2021 draft class.

Illinois running back Ra'Von Bonner recently opted out of playing in the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 outbreak following a similar decision made by teammate Jake Cerny, an offensive lineman. But Farley is the first likely NFL Draft pick to announce his intention to sit out the 2020 season, and it will be interesting to see how many others follow his lead.