California running back Brendon Bigelow has decided to skip his final season of college football and make himself eligible for this spring’s NFL draft, the school confirmed on Tuesday.
That makes five Bear underclassmen (off a 1-11 team) who have decided to leave Cal early. All in all, 92 underclassmen have declared for the draft.
This is a quizzical move by Bigelow, a once-promising back whose career has been hampered by a series of knee injuries. He flashed incredible potential as a 2012 sophomore, rushing for 431 yards on just 44 carries (an average of 9.8 yards per carry). His breakout game was against Ohio State, when he rushed for 160 yards and two touchdowns on just four carries.
But continuing issues with his knees over the offseason seemed to cut into his speed. Combined with a change of scheme as the result of new coach Sonny Dykes’ offense, it led to a disappointing junior year as Bigelow rushed for just 425 yards and two touchdowns while averaging barely four yards per carry.
This is a back with a lot of talent. He just needs to stay healthy. It would’ve been smarter for him to stay in school and work his way back to health in a wide-open offense where he’ll get chances to carry the ball in real game situations. He won’t get that chance in the NFL.
Otherwise, the Bears probably won’t miss him too much. Freshman Khalfani Muhammad, who led the team in rushing, is back, as is sophomore Daniel Lasco, who showed some good flashes last fall.