Kansas defensive end Lonnie Phelps Jr. declares for 2023 NFL draft

photo by: Nick Krug/Journal-World

Kansas offensive lineman Ar'maj Reed-Adams, left, and defensive end Lonnie Phelps celebrate as they leave the field following the Jayhawks' 14-11 win over Iowa State to remain unbeaten on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022 at Memorial Stadium.

After delivering a monster season in his first run with the Jayhawks, Kansas defensive end Lonnie Phelps Jr. has decided to try to take his game to the National Football League.

Phelps, a transfer from Miami (Ohio) who led the Jayhawks in sacks (7), tackles for loss (11.5) and QB hurries (6) during the recently completed season, announced Thursday evening on his social media accounts that he was declaring for the 2023 NFL draft.

“I would like to thank God, for where I gain my strength to pursue my dreams,” Phelps wrote. “I want to use this message to thank my parents, family and friends. Without my teammates and coaches from Miami University at Ohio and University of Kansas, I would not have the cherished memories of our time together. My dream is to play football on Sundays and I am now in position to do so. I am excited to declare for 2023 NFL Draft.”

One of several transfers brought in by KU coach Lance Leipold for Year 2 at Kansas, Phelps was arguably the most productive and important of all of them. His presence on the D-Line created problems for opposing offensive lines from Day 1. He recorded three sacks in the season opener against Tennessee Tech and drew heavy attention from opposing offenses the rest of the way.

Phelps also finished fourth on the team with 57 total tackles and earned all-Big 12 honors.

His departure is significant, but the Kansas coaching staff already has lined up his potential replacements, transfers who the Jayhawks hope will make the kind of splash in their first year that Phelps did in his.

Transfer portal pick-ups, Austin Booker and Gage Keys are both coming to Kansas from Minnesota and Devin Phillips has elected to join the Jayhawks from Colorado State.

KU also is expected to have the services of senior-to-be Jereme Robinson, who had a big impact on the team’s 6-win season and first bowl appearance in 14 seasons.

Those players and other younger interior defensive linemen like redshirt freshmen Tommy Dunn Jr., D.J. Withers and others, will be asked to fill some big shoes in 2023, as the KU D-Line looks like it will be the position that looks the most different for the Jayhawks next season.

The next step for Phelps, which is expected to begin immediately, is to turn up his training for this spring’s NFL draft. The initial stages of his work will be geared toward earning an invitation to the NFL Combine, slated for Feb. 27 through March 6 in Indianapolis.

The 2023 NFL draft will take place April 27, 28 and 29.

Invitations for this year’s combine are expected to begin going out in late January and underclassmen who declare for the draft are allowed to call the Combine offices to check on their status beginning Jan. 27.

Lonnie Phelps draft

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