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By CRAIG HALEY
(STATS) - Richmond's bid to bounce back from its first losing season in seven years has taken a hit with redshirt junior wide receiver Cortrelle Simpson being granted eligibility for the 2019 NFL Draft.
Simpson joins three other FCS players - Northwestern State wide receiver Jazz Ferguson, North Carolina A&T defensive end Darryl Johnson Jr. and Tennessee State offensive tackle Chidi Okeke - who the NFL said Friday were granted early eligibility for the April 25-27 draft in Nashville, Tennessee.
The 5-foot-11, 193-pound Simpson was one of 32 underclassmen made eligible for the draft because they have graduated from their respective school. He was hampered by injuries this past season when Richmond was below .500 (4-7) for the first time since 2011.
When he was healthy in 2017, Simpson caught 60 passes for 1,019 yards and six touchdowns, and made the All-CAA second team.
Juniors Ferguson (6-5, 223), Johnson (6-5, 232) and Okeke (6-6, 315) renounced their college eligibility as 103 early-entry candidates.
Johnson made the STATS FCS All-America first team and Ferguson the second team. Okeke played two seasons at Tennessee State after a transfer from LSU and was named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference first team.
The record 135 players forgoing eligibility was up from 119 last year.
Updated January 18, 2019