Yet again, a record number of early entrants have declared for this year's NFL draft. Based on who they lost and who they have behind them, here are the 10 programs that suffered the biggest losses from early declarations:
Declaring: RB Spencer Ware, RB Michael Ford, OL Chris Faulk, DE Sam Montgomery, DE Barkevious Mingo, DT Bennie Logan, LB Kevin Minter, CB Tharold Simon, CB Tyrann Mathieu, S Eric Reed, P Brad Wing
Sheesh, will the last one out of Baton Rouge please turn out the lights? The Tigers have been pillaged this year like no other college squad in recent memory. They even lost a punter.
On the other hand, have you seen the dudes on LSU’s roster waiting to get their shot? Rough life, Les.
2. Texas A&M
Declaring: OL Luke Joeckel, DE/LB Damontre Moore
For A&M, it’s the quality, not the quantity.
Johnny Manziel got the Heisman hype, but coach Kevin Sumlin undoubtedly understands what he’s losing in Joeckel and Moore. Both will hear their names called pretty quickly on the first night of the draft. (Gil Brandt and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com currently have Joeckel being picked first overall, with Moore going in the top 10.)
The Aggies have a ton of talent on hand to replace them, but these two departures will leave a mark.
3. Michigan State
Declaring: RB Le’Veon Bell, TE Dion Sims, DE William Gholston
These aren’t exactly marquee names that are departing East Lansing, but the losses will definitely tax an MSU roster that isn’t exactly loaded with Parade All-Americans. In particular, Bell’s departure hurts, as the bruising tailback essentially was Sparty’s offense this season.
Michigan St. will miss Gholston’s nastiness on the defensive line, of course.
Declaring: S Tony Jefferson, WR Kenny Stills, LB Tom Wort
If you’re scoring at home, those would be the Sooners’ leading tackler and receiver, as well as a three-year starter at linebacker. Although many around the program expected Jefferson and Stills to declare, it doesn’t lessen the impact of losing two key pieces of the program from the last three seasons. Jefferson's departure is especially tough - he was the best player on a D that struggled mightily at times in 2012.
It could have been worse for Bob Stoops. Standout cover man Aaron Colvin waited until the 11th hour to decide that he would stay in Norman for his senior season. Stud fullback Trey Millard thought hard about heading out, too.
Declaring: DT Shariff Floyd, LB Jelani Jenkins, S Matt Elam
The Gators boasted arguably the best D in the country. That tends to happen when you’ve got talents like these three on that side of the ball.
Elam established himself as one of the best defenders in the country this year and will be especially difficult for Will Muschamp to replace. Coach Boom has recruited awfully well, though, so there will likely be a host of young whippersnappers and hungry veterans competing to fill the vacated spots.
Declaring: DT Kwame Geathers, LB Alec Ogletree, LB Jarvis Jones
The Bulldogs scored big with the return of trigger man Aaron Murray, who could make a run at being the first quarterback selected next year.
Combine the early entrants with Georgia’s graduates, however, and Mark Richt’s defense has been decimated.
Declaring: TE Levine Toilolo, TE Zach Ertz, CB Terrence Brown
When was the last time a team had two tight ends leave early? Maybe even more amazing: The Cardinal will have one of the top teams in the country next season even with these losses. David Shaw has that program rolling.
8. Florida State
Declaring: CB Xavier Rhodes, DE Bjoern Werner, OL Menelik Watson
The Seminoles are sending two likely first-rounders to the show in Rhodes and the big German. Jimbo Fisher has recruited at Bobby Bowden-like levels since taking over, which should help mitigate some of the damage.
Declaring: RB Eddie Lacy, OL D.J. Fluker, CB Dee Milliner
All in all, you’d expect it to be worse for a team that just claimed its second consecutive national championship. ‘Bama won’t miss a beat.
Losses: QB Tyler Bray, WR Justin Hunter, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, DT Darrington Sentimore
This one comes with a caveat: It feels a little odd to say these early defections hurt the Volunteers, seeing as this team badly underachieved this season. Still, they mean coach Butch Jones will be looking for a new signal caller and some new weapons in the passing game as he begins the rebuilding process in Knoxville.
Maybe a fresh start will work out best for all involved.
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These schools are all in the NFL minor leagues. What's the big deal? Scholar-athletes? Get back on your medication.
It's really not accurate to say the Stanford TEs are leaving early. They are academic seniors and are graduating in June. Yes, sometimes Stanford players stay for their 5th year (and get a masters degree like Coby Fleener did) but most leave after their 4th year, like Andrew Luck. These are student athletes ... Why stay beyond the fourth year unless there is a major reason for them to stay (Skov giving his knee another year, for example).
Many so-called student athletes are not student material and really only seek media exposure to increase their worth on the open market of signing on with the pros.
Wow, that is a helluva list you put together AK. Excellent work and makes you realize just how many guys left, plenty justified and some not so much.
Only other thing I'd add is that not only did Florida lose the three defenders you mentioned early, but also their leading receiver Jordan Reed, who also had a year of eligibility left. For a team that didn't have that many offensive weapons to begin with, that one hurts!
@Topazinator For some reason your comment was e-mailed to me, so on the off chance that it really was a response to my comment about the Stanford student athletes, just need to say that they really are student athletes ... Both students and athletes. If you don't know that Stanford football players are students who go through a tough admissions process, etc, you just don't know what you are talking about. Really ... They need to take AP courses in HS, have good grades, do all the application essays, etc. Nearly every year there is a top commit who isn't admitted and has to go elsewhere. If you were talking about other schools on this list, you may be right, but Stanford athletes are definitely serious students. Look at the ones in the NFL ... Can you name one who doesn't seem smart and educated? Watch National Signing Day on Feb 6 ... See the interviews with the Stanford commits and compare them to others ...
@andreaallennyc Yeah, and Aaron Murray will leave UGA next year with a doctorate in psychology.Every college FB team has some smart guys and some dimmer academic lights.
@andreaallennyc But it's not inaccurate... I guess...
@mjhellund That's not quite to the point. Yes, every college has a range of students, athletes or not. The point is that Stanford has very high criteria for its student athletes. If you didn't know that, you should now. Seriously, look into it. And their athletes have a higher graduation rate than the student body as a whole. I'm serious about this and really do know a lot about it.
@Blatant Homerism Depends on what you mean by leaving early. They are leaving with one year of football eligibility remaining. They are not leaving school early. Sometimes people discuss saving early as though the athletes are foregoing their education, just going for perceived big bucks in the NFL, that they aren't serious about their studies, etc. so that connotation would not be accurate in these cases. I wouldn't say anyone who was graduating was leaving early ... Those who redshirted and are staying for a fifth year are choosing to stay an extra year ...
@Sanford222view @mjhellund I know the NCAA says that athletes graduate at a higher rate, but I've read a number of challenges to that. Here's a recent one: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/09/25/report-finds-football-players-graduate-rates-lower-full-time-student-peers