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WSU star safety Jaden Hicks declares for 2024 NFL Draft

Washington State defensive back Jaden Hicks reacts during the first half of the Cougars’ Apple Cup game against Washington on Nov. 25 at Husky Stadium in Seattle.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – Jaden Hicks has played his final college snap.

Washington State’s star safety announced as much in an Instagram post on Friday, saying that he’ll be declaring for the NFL draft, forgoing his final years of college eligibility.

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A post shared by Jaden Hicks (@jaden.hickss)

It’s a costly development for WSU, which loses its best secondary player. Last season, Hicks totaled 76 tackles, two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), four pass breakups and three sacks, emerging as one of the country’s top safeties.

An All-Pac-12 honorable mention pick last season, the strong safety finished last season with a Pro Football Focus coverage grade of 81.8, which ranked seventh among Pac-12 safeties. He gave up 21 receptions on 32 targets.

Two former Cougars have decided to turn down college eligibility in favor of turning pro: Hicks and former quarterback Cam Ward, who made his announcement on Monday.

Candidates to replace Hicks include returners Reece Sylvester and Tanner Moku.

The incoming signing class also includes true freshmen Kayo Patu and Tyson Weaver, both of whom WSU head coach Jake Dickert mentioned last month could play safety.

It’s also possible that rising sophomore Adrian Wilson could move over from free safety next fall.