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Washington star DL Vita Vea declares for NFL draft

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Defensive lineman Vita Vea #50 of the Washington Huskies battles guard Gus Lavaka #63 of the Oregon State Beavers on October 22, 2016 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington standout defensive lineman Vita Vea, the Pac-12 Conference defensive player of the year, has declared for the NFL draft.

Vea announced the expected decision in a lengthy post on social media on Monday.

Vea hinted following Washington loss to Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl he would be leaving early for the NFL, where he’s expected to be a first-round pick.

Vea nearly left Washington after his sophomore year but opted to stay for his junior season. He was a disruptive force on the defensive line and was voted the conference defensive player of the year by the league’s coaches. He was the first Washington player named defensive player of the year in the conference since 1996 and just the fourth defensive player in school history to be player of the year.

Vea finished the regular season with 38 tackles and 3 ½ sacks. He had six tackles in the Fiesta Bowl.