Kansas football: Austin Booker, Jayhawks edge rusher, expected to enter NFL Draft

Kansas football appears to be losing its top defensive end from the 2023 season

Kansas v Iowa State
Kansas v Iowa State / David Purdy/GettyImages

Statistically speaking, Kansas football had its best season defensively since the magical 2007 Orange Bowl-winning team. A large reason for that was the transfer portal additions made by the coaching staff during the offseason. Unfortunately, according to sources at 247 Sports, Austin Booker is likely to declare for the 2024 NFL Draft.

Booker had a breakout season this year with the Jayhawks. The Minnesota transfer recorded 56 tackles and eight sacks en route to All-Big 12 First-Team honors. He was one of the best defensive players in the conference and garnered national recognition for his exceptional pass-rushing skills.

At 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, he has the physical tools to thrive in the pros. But although his measurables are excellent, he only has one whole season of game film down. Booker played sparingly in his two years with the Golden Gophers. Then again, he would risk injury or regression if he returned to college.

The only confirmed news is that he will be absent from KU's appearance in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl tomorrow. He and star offensive tackle Dominick Puni opted out and won't be with their teammates when they take on UNLV.

If he does leave for the NFL, Kansas football will rely on senior defensive end Jereme Robinson to take over top edge rusher duties. He was expected to take a significant leap in 2023, but Booker stole the show for the most part. Robinson finished second on the team in sacks with 4.5.

KU has Auburn transfer Dylan Brooks waiting behind the starters, a former 4-star recruit whom the coaching staff had high hopes for when he committed. They also might dip into the transfer portal for more depth — former Youngstown State player Dylan Wudke transferred to the Jayhawks last week.

Assuming the reports are accurate, this would mark the third consecutive season that Kansas' top edge rusher entered the draft (Kyron Johnson and Lonnie Phelps in 2021 and 2022, respectively). While some fans might consider his exit premature, Austin Booker had some terrific moments with the program and will forever be cherished by Jayhawk nation.