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Record 65 underclassmen declare early for NFL draft

2011 NFL Draft Getty Images

Last year around this time, the NFL was announcing a record 56 underclassmen had left eligibility on the table in order to make themselves available for the April draft.

A year later?  Consider that record shattered.

The NFL announced Thursday that a total of 65 eligible underclassmen have decided to take their game to the next level.  Prior to last year, the record had been 53, first in 2008 then tied in 2010.

And, as is normally the case, there were a handful of players included in this year’s NFL list that had not been previously reported:

  • Jamison Berryhill, RB, Texas
  • Tiree Eure, TE, Minnesota
  • Dorian Graham, WR, Syracuse
  • Janzen Jackson, DB, McNeese State
  • Aldarius Johnson, WR, Miami
  • Ken Plue, G, Purdue
  • Johnny Thomas, DB, Oklahoma State
  • Phillip Thomas, DB, Syracuse

Interestingly, a pair of running backs who had previously announced they were leaving early — Washington’s Chris Polk by the school and Utah State’s Robert Turbin on Twitter — were not on the list released by the NFL.  It’s unclear why they weren’t included, and emails seeking clarification from the respective schools on the status of the players have not yet been returned.

(Writer’s note: a UW official responded to CFT’s email, writing that Polk being excluded by the NFL “[m]ust be a mistake on their part. He made it official on Jan. 2, and nothing has changed.”  In a followup email, the same official wrote “that the NFL considers him a senior since he never technically redshirted. Had he wanted to come back for the 2012 season, he could have gotten a year back (without any doubt), but no one had ever done the paperwork for that year (2008) for whatever reason.”  So, for accounting purposes, Polk is not considered an early entry by the NFL.)

(Writer’s note, the sequel: USU’s director of media relations, Zach Fisher, wrote that “because of being five years out of high school, [Turbin] is not classified as needing to be granted the special eligibility for the draft.”)

The running back position, incidentally, saw the most attrition, with 13 players at that position on the NFL’s list.  Defensive linemen (12), wide receivers (11), defensive backs (9) and offensive linemen (8) were the next hardest hit positions.  Tight end saw the least attrition with three players, while just five quarterbacks made themselves available for the upcoming draft.

Conference-wise, three accounted for well over half of the early entries — the ACC (14), SEC (12) and Pac-12 (10).  All 11 conferences lost at least one player, with the Big Ten (7), Big 12 (6) and Big East (6) accounting for most of the remaining future draftees.  A pair of players from non-Div. 1-A — Southern Illinois RB Jewel Hampton and McNeese State DB Janzen Jackson — were included as well.

As far as last year’s draft was concerned, it seemed to be a boom-or-bust proposition for those who applied for early entry.  While nearly half of the entire first round (15) consisted of juniors, redshirt or otherwise, the same number went undrafted.  Add in 12 players selected in the second round, and exactly 75 percent of the players in the early-entry Class of 2011 either went in the first two rounds or were not selected at all.

What does it mean?  Make the leap if you have the talent.  If not, jump at your own peril.

Anyway, for the complete list of underclassmen whose future lies in the professional ranks, click HERE.

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10 Responses to “Record 65 underclassmen declare early for NFL draft”
  1. dprouse says: Jan 19, 2012 2:40 PM

    So much for the theory that the new CBA might encourage players to stay in school for an additional year…

  2. woebegong says: Jan 19, 2012 3:40 PM

    There are going to be a few disappointed folks, that maybe should have thought about it a little more. I doubt that all of them received favorable news on their NFL scores, but I guess they will find out. UGA’s DC advises kids, that if you are going to go in the first round or high in the second, you are probably better off staying in college and further refining your skills. I think he has a point there. I would guess there will probably be no more than about 180 of the total draft eligible kids that will make the cut and the rest will be left holding the bag.

  3. huskersrock1 says: Jan 19, 2012 3:59 PM

    No degree, no football career, many of these “men” are going to be on the streets with agent debt and bad credit in a couple of short months.

  4. arizonapetdoctor says: Jan 19, 2012 5:21 PM

    I would disagree about the CBA causing players to stay in college longer to improve their draft position. Since the CBA essentially did away with the huge guaranteed portions of the contracts, and actually decreased the overall contract numbers, there is less of an incentive for players to try to improve their draft status by the extra year of college. Players may have a greater chance of increasing their status via the combine than risk an injury in that extra year. Just my take on the situation.

  5. thefiesty1 says: Jan 19, 2012 5:28 PM

    I had to check the Texas roster to see if Jamison Berryhill was even on the team. How many carries did he have in his career? I just don’t recall ever seeing him on the field. Good luck with getting drafted.

  6. coopercougarjtk1519 says: Jan 19, 2012 6:35 PM

    Berryhill doesn’t belong on this list. He was a walk-on FB (who was awarded a scholarship for the 2011 season) who announced before the season started that 2011 would be his last season playing organized football mainly due to some health issues. He has graduated from Texas and left football for good.

  7. John Taylor says: Jan 19, 2012 7:20 PM

    @coopercougarjtk1519: he belongs on the list because he filed his paperwork with the NFL requesting special eligibility for the draft.

  8. 1stbaseman44 says: Jan 19, 2012 8:14 PM

    just check the senior bowl web site they have chris polk on the roster

  9. daveyjones1 says: Jan 20, 2012 8:33 AM

    Not a good move for a lot of these kids. Unfortunately, most of them either think they are more talented than they actually are, or have gotten bad advice. It seems more and more prevalent these days because a lot of kids only play because they want to go pro. That is the wrong reason to go to college. If they get drafted past the fifth round, chances are they will not make an NFL team. They end up making a $200,000. If they get a degree and don’t make and NFL team, they can get a job were they make at least $40,000 a year. And that is the absolute bottom. Look at Bryce Brown. Even if he blows the NFL away at the combine, who is going to draft him before the 6th round? No one would risk it and they could find the easiest reason to cut him. I wish the kids the best of luck, but unfortunately, this is absolutely a mistake for many of these young men.

  10. woebegong says: Jan 20, 2012 8:44 AM

    Sad, but true, but after three years in college, they have very little to show academically for that time, so they figure, why waste another year in college, when they can take a shot at some big money. They go into the combine thinking that they can either hide areas of weakness, or suddenly after three years, exceed what they did at college, and jump over the competition. The college coaches and sometime, their family support group give them very little guidance so they are left on their own to make the decision.

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