Joseph Ossai becomes fifth Longhorn to opt out

Texas JACK Joseph Ossai followed the lead of four Texas teammates when he announced his intention to skip the Longhorns' bowl game and remaining eligibility to begin his preparation for the 2021 NFL Draft (photo courtesy of

AUSTIN, Texas — One of the Texas Longhorns’ best defensive players is now one of UT’s best former defensive players.

Junior JACK Joseph Ossai announced Monday that he will opt out of the Longhorns’ bowl game, and will forego his chance to return to play at UT next season, so he can focus on his preparation for the 2021 NFL Draft.

“Now that our regular season has ended, I have made the tough decision to go ahead and begin to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft,” Ossai said in a statement released through the Texas athletic department. “As a kid, I dreamt of playing at Texas and going on to play in the NFL. I feel the time is now right, and even though it is bittersweet I am excited to face this new challenge.”

Ossai is the fifth Longhorn in just over two weeks to choose to leave the team in order to get a headstart on preparing for the chance to play professionally. Also opting out were offensive tackle Samuel Cosmi, safety Caden Sterns, defensive back Chris Brown and defensive lineman Ta’Quon Graham.

Ossai said that his time playing for UT only underscored his choice to play colleciately in Austin.

“2020 has been a trying year for everyone,” Ossai said. “As a team, we have endured many challenges both on and off the field, but I couldn’t be prouder to be a Texas Longhorn. Growing up in Texas, football is everything, and there is no bigger stage to play the game I love than here in Austin. I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to wear the Burnt Orange for the last three years now and wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the world.”

A team captain in 2020, Ossai logged 165 tackles, 30.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, forced five fumbles, broke up three passes and intercepted two during his three-year career at Texas. In 2020, Ossai has recorded 55 tackles, 16.0 tackles for loss – the most in the Big 12 and second-most nationally – five sacks, three forced fumbles, one recovery, two pass breakups and two quarterback hurries. His performance on the field helped him become a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award for the first time in his career.

Ossai said that his pursuit of a professional career does not signal the end of his relationship with the university.

“I may have worn the Burnt Orange on the football field for the last time, but I will always bleed orange,” Ossai said. “Hook ’em!”

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