MIAMI GARDENS - Junior cornerback Xavier Rhodes is heading to the next level.
After the Seminoles' 31-10 win on the Orange Bowl on Tuesday night, Rhodes, the Seminoles' top cornerback the past three seasons, said he would skip his senior season and declare for the NFL draft.
Rhodes is rated as the No. 2 cornerback in the 2013 draft class by NFLDraftScout.net and is rated the No. 18 overall player by CBSSports.com.
"It wasn't tough for me at all," Rhodes said of his decision. "After last year I was thinking about it, and I stayed healthy (this year) and I wanted to basically focus on this season and not really worry about it so that's what I did. I wanted to get my team here and that's what I did and so I said I would make my decision and announce it at the end of the (Orange Bowl)."
Rhodes said he was going to declare after his redshirt sophomore season in 2011, but a knee injury suffered in the second half of the Champs Sports Bowl forced him to delay that decision.
An All-ACC pick this season, Rhodes, who is seldom tested by opposing quarterbacks, tied for the team-high in interceptions (3) and led all Seminoles with 10 passes defended.
"I think he's going to be a tremendous pro because he's long, he can jam you, he can get his hands on you, he's physical, he's quick, he's got ball skills, he's got great ups, he judges the ball very well, " FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said.
Rhodes said he has not seen his draft evaluation from the NFL, but many consider the 6-foot-2, 215-pound cornerback to be a first-or second-round selection come April.
Fellow FSU juniors Lamarcus Joyner, Bjoern Werner, Christian Jones and Menelik Watson said they will announce their decisions to either stay at FSU or go pro in the coming days.