Missouri defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. will return for his senior season, the Tigers announced Friday.

“I’m excited to make this decision and move on to finishing this season out the right way,” Beckner said in a statement. “We have a chance to do something really special and keep momentum going into next year, and I want to be part of that and help lead this team in the right direction.”

Beckner, who is 6-foot-4 and 305 pounds, has been a highly touted NFL prospect since his high school days in East St. Louis, Ill. When he signed with the Tigers in 2015, he was considered the country’s No. 2 player in his class according to ESPN and the top defensive tackle nationally per ESPN and 247Sports.

His early announcement that he will return for Missouri likely rules Beckner out of participation in the NFL draft combine and other activities that would determine his draft stock for 2018.

“I’ve grown so much this year working with Coach (Brick) Haley, but there’s so much more that I can learn from him,” Beckner said. “I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be a Tiger, and I want to do everything I can to help us do big things.”

This season has been Beckner’s first fully healthy season with Missouri. Through 12 games, he has recorded 35 tackles, 10 1/2 tackles for loss, seven sacks and an interception.

“We’re very excited to know that Terry will be with us for another year,” coach Barry Odom said in the statement. “Everyone knows that he’s a high-impact player, but even more so, he’s an incredible leader for this program and is an outstanding representative of Mizzou.

“He certainly did have an opportunity to move on, but he and his family weighed all of the factors, and we’re grateful for the faith they have in us as a coaching staff to help him become the best he can be. It’s also very important to Terry and his family that he earns his degree, and he’s on pace to do that. We’ve got something special going at Mizzou, and he’s a big part of it.”

Beckner was named a freshman All-American in 2015 by the Football Writers Association of America and the Sporting News. Over his 28-game career with the Tigers, Beckner has 49 tackles, 20 1/2 tackles for loss and 10 sacks.