It was always a foregone conclusion. But Washington star WR Rome Odunze announced this morning that he officially will be forgoing his remaining year of eligibility and entering the NFL Draft. He finishes his college career with 3,272 receiving yards and 24 touchdown catches.
Washington star wide receiver Rome Odunze tells ESPN that he’s leaving school early for the NFL draft, adding one of the country’s top overall players to this draft class. Odunze enters the draft process as Mel Kiper’s No. 5 overall player and No. 2 wide receiver. pic.twitter.com/jRc4lDdkMG— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) January 12, 2024
Odunze departs with a strong argument to be considered the best Wide Receiver in Washington Husky history alongside Reggie Williams and Mario Bailey. He was a three-star recruit in January of his junior season when Washington became the first major program to extend him an offer. His stock quickly blew up and he was a clear four-star prospect by the time his senior season was over but valued the loyalty to Washington and came to Seattle.
The shortened Covid season was Odunze’s freshman year and he caught 6 balls for 72 yards across 4 games. He became a starter as a sophomore but missed Washington’s opening losses to Montana and Cal due to injury. Once back he put up 415 yards and 4 TDs despite the problems with UW’s passing game under Jimmy Lake and John Donovan. He was used almost exclusively on bubble screens being forced to make the first guy miss.
Fortunately, Kalen DeBoer and Ryan Grubb recognized his immense talent and elite skillset once they took over and convinced him not to enter the transfer portal. He exploded as a junior for 1,145 yards and 7 TDs across 75 receptions. That stat line earned him clear 1st team all-conference honors and put him on every radar once he announced his return to college for one more go-around.
This season, Odunze was completely unstoppable (even by broken ribs and a punctured lung). He finished with a ridiculous 1,640 yards and 13 TDs plus a punt return TD and a rushing TD for good measure. Once again Odunze was named 1st team all-conference but narrowly missed out on the Biletnikoff award. The back shoulder fade from Penix to Odunze was perhaps the most iconic and unstoppable play of the 2023 season across college football. Rome caught the game-winner against Oregon in Seattle and finished with 5 separate games of 100+ yards and 2 TDs.
The expectation is that Rome Odunze will hear his name called in the first ten picks of the NFL Draft in April and at least be the highest drafted Husky WR since John Ross. Odunze’s combination of size, route running, ability to make contested catches, and shiftiness after the catch makes him a unique prospect.
He becomes the 5th member of the team to declare early for the draft joining fellow receivers Jalen McMillan and Ja’Lynn Polk plus offensive lineman Troy Fautanu and edge rusher Bralen Trice. They were the 5 most likely candidates and it was extremely likely that at least 4 if not all 5 would move on regardless of any coaching upheaval. The remaining two question marks are likely RB Dillon Johnson and CB Jabbar Muhammad.
Everyone knew that they were watching Odunze play for the last time in a Husky uniform on Monday night. Luckily we will be able to see him suit up on Sundays for a very long time starting next fall. Best of luck Rome in the NFL and thank you for everything you’ve done for Husky football!