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Virginia Tech star Caleb Farley, projected 2021 first-round pick, opts out of 2020 college football season

Matt Johnson
2021 NFL mock draft
Nov 16, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies defensive back Caleb Farley (3) celebrates after an interception return for a touchdown against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the second quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech Hokies cornerback Caleb Farley is opting out of the 2020 college football season, becoming the first prominent college football player to skip the upcoming season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Farley, a redshirt junior, announced Wednesday that he would forego his senior season and instead spend the fall preparing for the 202021 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-2 cornerback is already considered a potential first-round pick and could be just the first of many collegiate stars who will sit out this season.

Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley opts out of 2020 college football season, will prepare for 2021 NFL Draft

A three-star recruit in 2017, Farley developed into one of the nation’s top cornerbacks during his time at Virginia Tech. After redshirting in his freshman season, he emerged as a star in the secondary and quickly attracted attention from NFL scouts.

He took his game to another level this past season. Farley racked up four interceptions and 12 pass deflections as a redshirt sophomore in 2019. When the 2020 NFL Draft wrapped up, many already projected Farley to be a first-round lock next year.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the risks of playing football during a health crisis hit close to home for Farley’s family. He lost his mother to an illness in 2018 and said Wednesday that it played a role in his decision to opt-out of the upcoming season.

While Farley won’t get the chance to shine on the field this season, his measurables and tape should be more than enough to solidify his status as a top cornerback prospect. He rates as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 cornerback in the 2021 NFL Draft class.

Farley’s can now spend the next few months training for the 2021 NFL Combine and preparing to make the jump to the next level. Given he rated as one of the freakiest athletes in college football in Bruce Feldman’s annual list, he should have no problem proving himself to NFL teams.