Clemson junior linebacker Trenton Simpson is declaring for the NFL draft, he told ESPN on Wednesday.

Simpson wasn't slated to play in the Orange Bowl because of an ankle injury suffered during the ACC championship game.

He is one of the top linebacker prospects in the upcoming NFL draft, as ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. ranks him as the No. 3 inside linebacker prospect behind Drew Sanders and Jack Campbell. An NFL scout told ESPN that Simpson projects as a likely first-round pick, describing him as physical, aggressive and instinctive.

Simpson told ESPN that Wednesday's decision offers a perfect coda, as he committed to Clemson three years ago on Dec. 14 and he's deciding to leave on the same day three years later. At the time he chose the school, he set his goals to play both three seasons and graduate, and he'll be receiving his degree in sports communications next week.

"It's amazing," Simpson told ESPN. "It's definitely a dream come true. Me and my family all talked, and I was able to sit down with my coaches. I felt like this was what's best for me. I worked my whole life for this opportunity."