Alabama head football coach Nick Saban said Wednesday at the 2017 SEC media days that underclassmen who are considering an early jump to the NFL should examine the background of New York Yankees rookie sensation Aaron Judge before making a final decision.
Dan Gartland of Sports Illustrated passed along comments from Saban, who said prospects must realize there's "no second developmental chance" for them once they leave college football.
"Aaron Judge is a pretty good player, but the way I understand it is he spent a couple years in the minor leagues, isn't that right, before he really came up and now he's a rookie that is pretty much a dominant player," he said. "Well, if that guy wasn't ready to play in football when he was 22 years old, he might not make the team."
Judge, who struggled during a 27-game cup of coffee with the Yankees last year, burst onto the scene with 30 home runs before the All-Star break this season. He put his prolific power on display nationally Monday night while winning the 2017 Home Run Derby.
The California native is also an "old rookie" at 25. He spent three years in college with Fresno State and three additional years working through New York's minor league system before making his full debut with the Yanks to open the 2017 campaign.
In 2015, he told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News skipping collegiate ball was never a serious consideration, even though the Oakland Athletics selected him late in 2010 draft.
"I didn't think I was ready—physically or mentally—to get into pro ball," Judge said. "I knew that a couple years at Fresno would help that out. I was going to college the whole way."
The decision paid off. The Yankees grabbed him during the compensatory portion of Round 1 in 2013, and the rest is history.
Saban pointed out there isn't a similar system in place for football players, calling the decision to leave school early "kind of an all-or-nothing thing." College football is their chance to maximize their potential before arriving in the NFL.
There are selfish reasons for the longtime coach to make those comments, as he's frequently lands a wealth of top recruits, many of whom end up being the players to leave early. But it's hard to argue with his stance on the lack of development opportunities after college.