Two key Miami Hurricanes defenders recently tested the waters regarding an early jump to the NFL—linebacker Denzel Perryman and defensive end Anthony Chickillo.
Both players submitted paperwork to the NFL Draft Advisory Board and were waiting on results, which have since been received, all questions answered.
Perryman is expected to be a third-round pick, while Chickillo is said to fall somewhere between the fourth and fifth rounds. Because of that, the defensive end has pledged to return next season while Miami's best linebacker continues weighing his options.
(Update: Per a University of Miami release on Friday morning, Perryman announced that he will officially return for his senior season, as will tight end Clive Walford and offensive lineman Jon Feliciano.)
The Hurricanes are coming off of another lackluster year defensively, especially late in the season.
Florida State unsurprisingly tagged Miami for 41 points and 517 total yards, but Virginia Tech and Duke? The Hokies and Blue Devils somehow combined for 90 points and 1,092 yards against the 'Canes.
Even Virginia—a two-win ACC cellar-dweller this season—torched Miami for 483 yards in a loss the following week. All the more reason for two Hurricanes veterans to return—helping to bring some talent and leadership, while also upping their stock for the 2015 NFL draft.
The 6'0", 240-pound Perryman led Miami with 108 tackles, including five for losses, and had 1.5 sacks with a forced fumble. Having become a first-time father mid-November, there was in-season speculation that a need to earn a paycheck would trump increasing his skills set as an amateur.
"To be honest with you I don’t have perfect games either," Perryman said before the home finale. "I probably don’t make enough plays. There are still things I need to focus on like run fits. This past game [against Duke] there were times I wasn’t in my gap and it caused big runs."
Chickillo has 34 consecutive starts under his belt, having seen consistent action since his freshman campaign in 2011. As a junior, the 6'4", 277-pounder recorded 46 tackles, with 7.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks and seven quarterback hurries.
An early fan favorite due to his orange and green bloodline, Chickillo earned instant fame during the recruiting process as "3G," a nod to him being a third-generation Hurricane, as father Tony and grandfather Nick both played for Miami.
The Tampa native took to Twitter on Wednesday night, sending a message that there would be one more year repping "The U."
While a less-than-stellar draft status arguably played a role in the decisions of both, their thought process and efforts deserve applause, especially in light of some recent blunders by past Hurricanes.
Miami saw a mass exodus of underclassmen after the 2011 season came to a close, with the first two to declare being the least ready and falling hardest as a result.
The Hurricanes wrapped Al Golden's season with a late November loss to Boston College en route to a 6-6 record and a self-imposed bowl ban. Ten days later, junior wide receiver Tommy Streeter and defensive lineman Marcus Forston both declared early before even hearing back from the NFL Draft Advisory Board.
Streeter—coming off of a 46-reception, 811-yard, eight-touchdown season—wound up a sixth-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens. Prior to his breakout junior campaign, the lanky wide receiver had six career receptions for 156 total yards and one score and was expected to build on that with another year at Miami, but he declined.
To date, Streeter hasn't caught one pass in the NFL, was cut by the Ravens in August and has since been signed to Tampa Bay's practice squad.
Forston's tale could be even more tragic. A one-time can't-miss prospect, the 5-star defensive tackle exploded as a freshman, but he suffered injury as a sophomore and earned a medical hardship. With another shot at "year two," Forston was effective and finished with a respectable 37 tackles over 13 games.
Forston sat out the 2011 season-opener, suspended for his alleged dealings with Nevin Shapiro and returned to start three games, but he was hit with a season-ending knee injury. Two months later, feeling NFL-ready despite being sidelined, Forston waved adios to Miami.
"I feel like I'm ready," Forston told Jorge Milian of the Palm Beach Post. "My best football is going to be at the next level."
Forston went undrafted, was signed by New England, waived, re-signed to the practice squad and saw action in one game as a rookie. The sign, waive, re-sign process happened again in 2013.
Forston earned one start, replacing injured Patriots star Vince Wilfork—another former Hurricane who jumped to the bigs a year early, but Wilfork ultimately achieved success. In two seasons, Forston has only seen action in four games.
Streeter and Forston were part of the Hurricanes' top-ranked 2008 recruiting class. Both were from Miami Northwestern and made headlines, as eight Bulls from that national championship squad signed on with second-year UM head coach Randy Shannon.
At the time, the Bulls-to-'Canes connection seemed serendipitous—hometown high school champs signing with a former Miami player-turned-coach, all ready to put the "305" back on the map.
Instead, the experiment fizzled top to bottom, flame-outs and unreached potential being the narrative, especially regarding Streeter, a victim of some half-baked family advice.
Days before the 2012 NFL draft, Navarro caught up with Tommy Streeter Sr., who had a "you never know" attitude regarding his son's ability to sneak into the first round, while backing the choice to forgo a get-better senior season, regardless of the outcome:
It was the right decision 100 percent. There's really nothing he can look back on and say if I stayed I probably could have been a first rounder. That's not on his mind. I think he felt like it was just time. If you looked at it, if he would played with [quarterback] Jacory [Harris] from the get-go this would have been the year he came out anyway. A lot of people can say if he stayed one more year this might of happened, he could have gone higher. But you never know what could have happened. He could have gotten injured. You can't wait on that. You make a decision and you move on.
ESPN's Todd McShay disagreed, feeling that Streeter needed one more year.
"Tommy Streeter should have come back to school," McShay said weeks after the draft. "He knew the risks. I thought he could have used more time."
Contrast that Streeter advice to the wisdom and logic Desmond Perryman, father of Denzel, shared with his son over the past few weeks regarding the linebacker's stay-or-go situation, as reported by Susan Miller Degnan at the Miami Herald:
We’re big on education, but he has to live his life. He has a family, but his daughter will be taken care of. I would like to see him stay another year because I personally think it would do him good.
A lot of the kids jump to the NFL based on what someone else tells them, but they don’t really understand what’s at the next level. You might be dominant in college but you’re playing against the best of the best in the NFL.
My thing is the NFL is not college – it’s a job. A lot of the kids get stuck on, ‘I get a chance to make some money’ without really understanding the business part. In the NFL, it’s your responsibility to do everything.
The elder Perryman also went on to say that his son was, "very happy that Coach Golden stayed," regarding rumors that the Miami head coach was in the running for a vacancy at Penn State.
Golden, who dealt with this process at Temple and now with three years leading the Hurricanes, offers sound advice for his players when deciding whether to return or move on, which he shared with Degnan in the same piece:
I think we provide a great process here. We've really grown in that area, not just the evaluation but affording them the opportunity to have data on the draft, to talk to NFLPA people, to meet with agents here at the Schwartz Center. All of those things allow them to go through a process and make a real business decision. Other than that I don’t get involved really. It's important for me to provide them that process and then allow them to make that decision. Certainly some of them will have a question or want my opinion, but it's really important that they go through that process with their family. When it's final from our standpoint we will release that or give them the opportunity to tell you that in a press conference format.
Two years back, Golden came off shell-shocked regarding the five Miami players who departed early—including running back Lamar Miller, defensive end Olivier Vernon and offensive lineman Brandon Washington, another one of the Northwestern eight—as none even petitioned the Advisory Board in regards to NFL draft status.
"In 15 years of coaching, I've never seen that," Golden said to Milian at the Post. "It's a function of what the young person is listening to."
Thankfully for Perryman, the family sales pitch was rooted in long-term best interest, and regarding "Team Chickillo," the longtime U Family explained that the risk certainly didn't outweigh the reward.
No. 71 is on board to return, and whether No. 52 suits up for the Canes next year or jumps to the NFL, there's no doubt the decision was properly mulled over.
The same can't be said for some past Hurricanes who leapt before they looked and wound up paying with their careers.
Follow Chris Bello on Twitter @allCanesBlog.com.