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Marshall’s Darius Hodge (2) and Kyron Taylor (95) talk with friends in the stands as they prepare to take on Florida Atlantic during an NCAA football game on Oct. 24, 2020, at Joan C. Edwards Stadium Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — Marshall’s football program has lost another key player to the NFL Draft.

On Sunday afternoon, junior defensive end Darius Hodge took to social media to announce his intentions to enter the 2021 NFL Draft.

Hodge’s left a message to those close to him below a post that said, “I’m not coming home till I can build my own!!”

The junior from Wake Forest, N.C., came to Marshall as a linebacker, but made the transition to defensive end and became one of Conference USA’s top pass-rushers.

It was expected that he would be a key returnee for the Herd in 2021, but on Sunday, that tune changed as he became Marshall’s fourth player to declare for next year’s draft.

“Thank you to anyone that has helped me throughout my time playing football. It has not gone unnoticed,” Hodge said in his statement. “With that being said, I will now begin training and preparing for the next step in my football career and will be declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft.”

Hodge joins Marshall offensive lineman Josh Ball, running back Brenden Knox and linebacker Tavante Beckett as those who will be part of the 2021 NFL Draft. Ball and Beckett were seniors who were eligible to come back under NCAA rules allowing 2020 players an extra year of eligibility.

In 2020, Hodge finished third on Marshall’s team in tackles with 63 while leading the team in tackles for loss (9.0) and sacks (6.5).

For his career, the versatile talent from North Carolina played in 34 games, logging 117 career tackles with 20.5 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks.

In 2019, Hodge put together one of the top defensive games in Marshall history when he logged 4.5 sacks in a win over Old Dominion.

Hodge also had two of the top statistical games of his career in the final three weeks of the 2020 season.

Against Rice, Hodge had 14 tackles, and he followed it up with 11 tackles in the Conference USA Championship against UAB.

Hodge’s announcement comes as Marshall is in the midst of a coaching search after the contract of Doc Holliday was not renewed.

Marshall is expected to continue its search this week with interviews of candidates as it moves forward. A decision is expected to come quickly following the completion of the interview process.

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