UNC middle linebacker Andre Smith is leaving Chapel Hill to enter the NFL Draft.

The junior made the announcement via his Twitter account on Sunday. He missed most of the 2017 season after suffering a season-ending injury against Louisville in September.

Smith, from Jacksonville, Florida, was expected to be a key piece making his return to North Carolina’s defense in 2018. He made 14 career starts at middle linebacker.

“Andre is an outstanding young man and we wish him the best as he pursues his dream of playing in the NFL,” head coach Larry Fedora said in a release. “He was a leader for our program who we will miss both on and off the field, but our staff was fortunate to have the opportunity to coach him for three seasons.”

Smith wrote on Twitter:

“Thank you Carolina! Thank you for taking a chance on a kid from Duval county that everybody said was too small I will forever bleed Carolina Blue!”

Smith had 21 tackles in two games during his junior season and returned a 73-yard interception. He finished seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference as a sophomore with 8.7 tackles per game and finished the season with 113 tackles.

Photo via Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics