With the 2012 regular season rapidly hurtling toward the finish line, at least some attention has turned to what’s become an annual question: will X underclassman take an early leap into the NFL draft pool?
Thanks to the talent he’s brought into Tuscaloosa over the past few years, Nick Saban has some experience dealing with that dilemma; Alabama has seen six juniors, redshirt or otherwise, leave early for the NFL the past two seasons. And the Alabama head coach is already bracing himself for at least one other such loss after the curtain closes on the current season.
On his radio show Thursday night, Saban was asked what positional areas he and his coaching staff will be targeting on the recruiting trail. Saban first and foremost addressed the offensive line in general and D.J. Fluker in particular, saying the latter’s “a guy who’s probably going to go out for the draft.”
The coach, though, wasn’t completely closing the door on a return.
“I can’t say that right for sure yet,” Saban said of Fluker’s future, by way of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. “And we won’t even consider it until after the season. That’s going to be an important spot in recruiting.”
As it is with a lot of coaches, Saban’s general rule of thumb is for underclassmen to leave if they’re considered a first-round draft pick, stay if they’re projected to fall outside the first round. Fluker, who’s a redshirt junior, is widely viewed as a first-round talent, although a final decision likely won’t be made until the NFL’s draft advisory committee gives its projection.