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LSU football safety Jay Ward declares for the NFL Draft

 LSU football starting safety Jay Ward has declared for the 2023 NFL Draft, he announced on Twitter Wednesday.

However, Ward told WAFB he will play for No. 16 LSU (9-4) in the Citrus Bowl against Purdue (8-5) on Jan. 2 in Orlando, Florida.

Ward had 54 total tackles and an interception for the Tigers this season. He had 156 total tackles and six interceptions in four years at LSU.

“My time in Baton Rouge has been special, but I have reached a point in my career where I have to decide my future,” Ward wrote.

Ward was one of the most versatile pieces in the secondary for the Tigers this season, lining up at safety, nickel cornerback and outside cornerback.

LSU’s secondary, like last offseason, is in flux. The Tigers fully rebuilt the group last offseason, adding transfers Greg Brooks, Joe Foucha, Jarrick-Bernard Converse, Colby Richardson, Sevyn Banks and Mekhi Garner. The only key contributors who were holdovers from the prior year were Major Burns, Sage Ryan and Ward.

With Ward and many of the aforementioned names moving on after this season, LSU will have to dip back into the transfer portal and be aggressive on the high school recruiting trail to build more depth and long-term stability at both safety and cornerback.