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Life before the NFL

Some college players are deciding to sit out of their bowl games to prepare for the NFL

Casey Collins, Asst. Sports Editor

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As the long awaited college football season came to a close, bowl season matchups began to shape up. Eighty teams participated in 40 bowl games, each attempting to finish off their season on a high note. With coaching bonus’ up for grabs, trophies and titles to claim, bowl season is the time to see all of the hard work and preparation pay off.

However, with the NFL in sight, several star college players were faced with the decision of sitting out their bowl games to evade the risk of injury before the upcoming 2018 NFL draft.

In the 2016 NFL draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers selected running backs Leonard Fournette from LSU and Christian McCaffrey from Stanford with the 4th and 8th overall picks respectively. Before last year’s NFL draft, both the First Team All-American from LSU and the Heisman finalist from Stanford, sat out of their team’s respective bowl games.

Some fans were very supportive of their decisions, wanting the best for them in their future endeavors hopefully in the NFL.

“I think it’s smart on their part, because it’s different when you’re a running back and you’re taking all the shots. So for them to just prep for the NFL, I respect it because they’re making the decision that’s best for them in their career,” second overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft Mitchell Trubisky said.

Trubisky himself participated in his bowl game where his North Carolina Tar Heels went head-to-head with the McCaffrey-less Stanford Cardinals.

However, there were others who thought of it as quitting on their teams. Others felt that the whole idea of college football was to compete to earn a spot in a bowl game and it was disrespecting the whole system to sit them out.

But when you’re projected to be a high selection in the NFL draft, it can be a great idea to sit out of a bowl game to prevent any risk of injury. Playing in a bowl game proved to be an unfortunate decision when Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith injured his knee in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl. As a result, Smith fell from a projected top-five draft pick to a second round pick up for the Dallas Cowboys.

Basically, playing in his bowl game cost Smith millions of dollars in salary and he wasn’t able to play a down of professional football in his rookie year.

In 2017, players decided to follow in Fournette and McCaffrey’s footsteps and sit out of their respective bowl games to focus on the next step in their careers; the NFL.

These players include projected first round picks Florida State safety Derwin James and Texas tackle Connor Williams, along with projected second rounders Texas safety DeShon Elliott and Oregon running back Royce Freeman.

These colleges were forced to fair without one or more of their stars while they competed for a bowl title.

What will be the future for college football bowl games if the trend of star players sitting out continues? Could teams potentially be at risk of losing their biggest games with their biggest names on the sidelines? Nonetheless, bowl season will continue to be highly anticipated.

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