Cameron Thomas of Aztecs to declare for 2022 NFL Draft

San Diego State junior defensive end Cameron Thomas announced on social media Thursday afternoon that he would not be returning to SDSU next season, choosing instead to make himself available for the NFL Draft 2022.

Thomas is the first SDSU player to confirm his intentions, although senior tight end Daniel Bellinger and junior punter Matt Araiza are expected to join him.

In fact, Bellinger’s intentions are apparent after accepting an invitation to the Senior Bowl, where he will be joined by Thomas, and gaining professional representation.

Bellinger’s father Frank Bellinger tweeted a welcome announcement Thursday afternoon from JB Sports, the agency of NFL agent Jack Bechta.

Thomas, 2021 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus second all-star team, said on Twitter: “On to the next trip …”

6-foot-5, 270-pound Thomas is a Carlsbad High graduate who was among the nation’s leaders this season with 11 1/2 sacks – the sixth-highest single-season total in SDSU history – and 20 1/2 tackles for a loss.

Thomas’s three-paragraph statement read:

“It has been an honor and a privilege to have spent my academic career presenting the Aztecs in my hometown. I am grateful to Coach (Brady) Hoke and the rest of our amazing staff for giving me the opportunity to shine under their leadership.

“I want to thank my family and friends, my teammates and all the coaches I have had who made this moment possible for me. You all played a part in shaping the player and the man I am today.

“That said, I am officially announcing that I will be declaring myself for the 2022 NFL Draft. I will be an Aztec forever.

Thomas is viewed by some scouts as a first-round pick.

Thomas’ announcement comes just a day after SDSU returned from their 38-24 Frisco Bowl victory over UTSA which gave the Aztecs a 12th win of the season, an academic record.

Bellinger finished tied for second with the Aztecs this year with 31 receptions for 357 yards and two touchdowns, although he was underused in an offense that struggled for yards and points much of the season.

The 6-foot-6, 255-pound Bellinger is a Las Vegas native who still has some eligibility but is considered one of the best tight ends in the country. He’s probably a mid-term pick at best right now, but his action is expected to increase with exposure from the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine.

San Diego State tight end Daniel Bellinger is tied for second on the team in receptions this season.

(Kristian Carreon / For the San Diego Union-Tribune)

OL Desmond Bessent in the portal

Senior Desmond Bessent, a right-tackle replacement in the Frisco Bowl, entered the NCAA transfer portal on Thursday as a graduate transfer.

Bessent, a native of Tampa, Fla., Has played all 13 games for the Aztecs this season.

Bessent is the fourth SDSU offensive lineman to enter the portal since December 7, joining the first left guard Chris Martinez, save second right guard Joey capra and real freshman Ilaisa Gonebure.

Capra has previously announced a pledge to his Mountain West rival, Nevada.

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