Aqib Talib will declare for NFL draft

Kansas cornerback Aqib Talib has decided to forego his final year of eligibility and declare for the NFL Draft, Talib’s brother, Yaqub, told The Star on Sunday night.

“Aqib is going to go this year,” Yaqub Talib said. “I just think, getting through this season healthy, and just having that big game (in the Orange Bowl), that was a big factor. It was hard to come back when you have a game like that and you boost up your stock a little bit. I just think he felt like he accomplished a lot this year and thought it was time to look at going for that next goal.”

Yaqub said that Talib received a second-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. He said Aqib feels he can work his way into the first round.

“The committee for juniors is looking out for the players, just trying to be safe,” Yaqub said. “Aqib felt like second round was a good grade. He’s going to work hard to try and get in that first round.”

Talib followed up his preseason billing as a Playboy All-American with a junior season worthy of being named a consensus first-team All-American. He intercepted five passes, returning two for touchdowns, for a Kansas defense that was drastically improved against the pass from a year ago.

Against Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, Talib made a play for the ages when he picked a Tyrod Taylor pass and zipped down the sideline for a 60-yard touchdown. Talib also moonlighted as a punt returner in a game that he viewed as one last chance for him to prove himself.

The Jayhawks, of course, will miss Talib, but the emergence of true freshman Chris Harris should make them feel better about losing him early. Harris was named the Big 12 defensive newcomer of the year and also picked off a pass in the Orange Bowl. Junior Kendrick Harper, who battled injuries all season, would likely occupy the other corner spot next season.

There is little doubt that Talib and Kansas needed each other. If Kansas coach Mark Mangino hadn’t shown interest, traveling to Talib’s home in Richardson, Texas, Talib likely would have ended up at Wyoming. Talib grew up at Kansas. He arrived on campus expecting to play, but was redshirted instead. He made enough plays as a freshman to warrant a freshman All-America selection by, but admits he was still immature. Talib broke team rules and would sit out the first two games of his sophomore year.

This summer, Talib became a father with his girlfriend and Kansas track and field athlete, Cortney Jacobs. He said in an interview with The Star that the birth of Kiara Renae Talib was what he needed to stay focused on his lifelong dream of playing in the NFL.

Now, he and his family will have a chance to live that dream.

KU will now await word from Talib’s fellow first-team All-American, Anthony Collins, who is also debating whether to turn pro. Collins must decide by Jan. 15.