College football players skip the season for the NFL Draft – is this the beginning of a new trend?

The Power 5 footballer said that she was currently in so much uncertainty and anxiety that she was leaving her apartment for an afternoon workout on campus earlier this month.

The player, who spoke to ESPN on the condition of anonymity, was recently in a meeting with school and conference officials to talk about a withdrawal between the coronovirus epidemic and realizing that he had no clear place Not a plan.

“Personally,” he said, “I don’t think that’s the right protocol for us to play safely. If I’m real, it’s about generating money.”

For schools and conferences, that is. Players, he said, feel like guinea pigs.

The player is a possible first or second-round draft pick, and is pointing to his NFL future. He wants to play this season, but he is well aware of the risk associated with coronovirus and is not at all comfortable with it.

He does not want to test positive and has to give up two to three games due to minimal 14-day quarantine. And along those same lines, he is not sure whether he trusts his teammates to report their symptoms, out of fear of losing playing time.

He is concerned about possible long-term radiation reducing lung capacity.

Even if they are lucky and there are no outbreaks, they see another danger: the lack of a traditional offhandy conditioning program.

“There’s a certain amount of time that it takes to prepare for the season, and if you throw the kids there it’s an injury risk,” he said.

If their conference doesn’t play this fall, they won’t feel safe doing it. But this is a risk he says he has to take for fear of his draft stock falling.

The possibility of spring weather is another matter entirely, however.

“I’ll leave,” he said. “I don’t feel like it would be smart for me to participate in the spring and enter the draft.”

The combined injury risk is high right now with a quick change in pre-draft events.

“I don’t know if the risk is as big as the reward,” he said. “I think a lot of people would rather sit outside than play.”

As conferences continue to grapple with the viability of a college football in the midst of a global epidemic, players, agents and athletic trainers are looking at declining calendar inches, they are witnessing an outbreak of coronovirus around the country and they’re ants. Are happening Decision time is coming for everyone, and they are getting ready to step in sooner rather than later.

On Wednesday, the first major dominoes fell. Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, a potential first-round pick, announced that he was exiting the season to begin for the 2021 NFL draft.

Several sources said that many pro prospects are already considering the possibility of leaving college to prepare for the NFL draft. A delayed season may send them packing. And a spring? forget about it. One long-time agent said that players are already nervous and have “no chance” that the bulk of first-round prospects play in those situations as long as the draft calendar remains in place, and many second and third. Round prospects will follow. Suit.

“If you are successful in the first round bout and you are close to the finish line, are you really harming yourself?” The agent said, if you’re in the position of Trevor Lawrence, Jammers Chase or Jaylen Wadle, you have “nothing to gain.”

CJ LaBoy, an agent at Wasserman, said college football is asking players to take a “boatload of risk” under current circumstances. With TK and no clear plan for a safe return to football, the players are worried and considering whether they should withdraw from school and get a start on training. LaBoy said he is in those discussions with the players and their families, and many want to make “a move” right now.

LaBoy said he hopes the agents are not preying on the players’ fears and leading them to an irreversible decision. Ultimately, it is in the best interests of an agent to turn down as many possibilities as possible. LaBoy knows this is happening. Another agent, who spoke to ESPN on condition of anonymity, said the pitch is simple: Now leave school so that I can put you in a sunny position in a nice apartment where you can train and become a supporter.

The appeal is unquestionable. After all, if they are taking online classes anyway, what is the harm in doing it on campus like every other student?

Moe Wells, who works with draft hope at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, said he heard from his clients “quite a bit” last month about leaving early for a training facility. He and the staff are already putting packages together for that event, offering a bubbly environment where players can train in state-of-the-art gyms.

“It’s more than one if, if more than one,” Wells said.

EXOS, a leader in NFL alliance training, began preparing for that prospect after receiving calls from several agents and advisors. Prospects typically train at their facilities for eight weeks, but according to Trent Wilfinger, senior vice president of the sports division, the company has already drawn up a blueprint for what the extended stay will look like.

Former Michigan tight end Jake Butt tries to put himself in a current junior or senior position at college and winning is a difficult decision. The uncertainty with which he has worked as a member of the Denver Broncos is quite difficult right now, he said, “but those people have not been paid.”

Butt is best aware of the risk of playing when he is on the horizon. He saw his ACL as Wolverine during his final game and saw his stock plummet. The former Mackey Award winner was eventually selected in the fifth round, which he said cost him “a lot of money.”

Butt said every option has to be drafted keeping in mind, and hopefully there will not be a one-size-fits-all approach. But if the NFL calendar doesn’t change and the college season is delayed, he said his advice for pro prospects will not be considered.

“The awareness part is a big thing,” he said. “It used to be that the kids used to say that I would play regardless of my school and play to win the game and pride. But, man, now life is changing and there is a risk.”

An NFL executive said it would be “understandable in some cases” if players decide to sit out.

“It’s really an extension of the Bowl games we’ve seen over the years,” he said. “Also, we’re preparing for the possibility that nobody plays in 2020. In the end, though, we’re in the business of practicing and playing football. What are they doing if they’re not playing? They’re How to get better? If all your teammates are busy with the game, it is hard to improve on your own. In all reality there are only a few players who can ‘get away with it.’ Putting the extra film will benefit the most. “

Lead college scouts from several teams say they have or will have graded each player of note in the last two years. They have tapes of every game and will separate matchups and players, and they can count on about six NFL teams such as Scast Services in a pool of talent evaluations to help the background.

The pre-draft evaluation circuit may be even more important, and will likely expand to accommodate different talents, from stars to unlocated prospects. The Senior Bowl will strongly consider bringing in the Juniors and may extend their event by two weeks to show more players. This would require a formal request to the NFL, which could keep its offsender calendar intact with bowl games and combinations, but bend draft dates if necessary.

In other words: There are other options besides staying in school.

A veteran starter in the SEC, whose coaches say he has potential, but not a first-second round prospect, ESPN reported that he had many unanswered questions about safety protocols. He was apprehensive about traveling to play in potential hot spots for the virus and how the upcoming opponents would know about his positive cases. Regardless, he said he would not play in the spring. He had a serious injury once in his career and said that the idea of ​​another injury so close to the draft presents too much risk.

Watching so many NFL players come out of the upcoming season only shines a harsh light on the realities of playing during an epidemic.

“There is a renaissance going on in the game with the younger generation and they have an understanding of how to leverage and the power they have and their influence, and they are understanding how the system is set up,” said LaBoy. “They are talent. They are entertainers who make money for their schools. They don’t make money from it, and people don’t like it. They’re not going to risk their livelihood for good.” University of whatever it is. They are smarter than these children get credit for. “

He said: “There are going to be players who raise their hands and say, ‘I’m tired of it. I’m already putting in the line. I’m not going to take much risk.” … You will start to see players blame and jump. “

And once that happens, all bets will stop. Because there can only be a select number of select fire draft picks in college football right now, there are many more players who see themselves in the same light and have agents and mentors who will gladly encourage them to bet on themselves and leave. School early.

Ultimately there is still time, and the uncertainty that many of these conversations are driving is also why players are held back from making decisions.

There is an argument, most notably voiced by Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley, that the spring season can actually be positive for the pros.

“Now, if the NFL plays in the fall, I promise you that they would love their head coaches and coordinators to actually come out and watch these guys play football,” he said. “I’ve talked with many NFL head coaches who love that idea. I think from an evaluation point of view, that would be fine and you obviously have to do something with the draft.”

Perhaps the situation may improve. Perhaps a season can be played in the fall. Or maybe it is in the spring and the NFL either pushes the draft back or perseveres.

Anything can happen, but one thing is certain: the clock is ticking.

And Caleb Farley took just the first step.


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