The bowl season is one of the most fun months in college football, but with it comes the dreaded NFL draft deadline. Players who are three years removed from high school have until the middle of January to decide whether or not they will return to school for their senior season or head onto bigger things early.
No bowls have even been played yet, but some of the nation’s best have already made it known what they plan to do for next season.
Here is a list of the big-time players staying and going as of December 16th.
Te’o was competing with Luke Kuechly for the best linebacker in the 2012 draft, but he has decided to return to South Bend for his final year rather than declare.
He is widely known as a man of great character and wouldn’t have felt comfortable leaving Notre Dame early because “he was led there to do something. He just feels there are so many unfinished things left there,” according to his father. This will be a huge boost for the Irish’s 2012 season.
The Oregon running back has dazzled the college football world for three years now but according to a source, the Rose Bowl will be the last time we see him as a Duck.
He hasn’t officially announced, but the move would make sense because of the overwhelming amount of talent at running back on the team’s roster and because the mileage of a running back is not very high. James has already had a knee and elbow injury in his career.
Hosley led the nation in interceptions last year but hasn’t been as impressive this season after being slowed by a hamstring injury.
But he still appears dead set on turning pro. “I’m not going back and forth or re-thinking anything. Right now my mindset is on leaving so right now I’m gonna complete the rest of my time here and help my team to win as much as I can for right now.” Nothing is 100 percent official yet, but that is as close as it gets.
Widely regarded as the second- or third-best running back in this year’s draft and a near consensus for a late first-round pick, Miami running back Lamar Miller has declared for the NFL draft.
But he isn’t the only one from the Hurricanes’ roster who is leaving early. Receiver Tommy Streeter and defensive tackle Marcus Forston are gone as well and many others are expected to leave with them.
Speaking of Miami, their best player in the secondary, Ray Ray Armstrong, has decided to return for his senior year. It is one of the oddest decisions made so far by an underclassmen considering how weak this year’s safety class is.
He was considered a third-round selection but with only Mark Barron, Markelle Martin and TJ McDonald as real competition, you would think a team would need a safety before that and draft Armstrong higher. Hopefully this decision will pay off for him.
First Kalil was reportedly returning to USC. Now he has confirmed that he will instead declare for the NFL draft.
The consensus best offensive lineman is a sure top five pick and many analysts have him going second overall. One thing to note is that he had previously stated that he would likely follow the decision made my quarterback Matt Barkley. Trojan fans are hoping that is not the case.
One of the most prolific receivers in college football will undoubtedly play his last game against Stanford. Justin Blackmon has been saying all year that he expects to leave for the NFL after his junior season.
He has nothing left to prove at the college level and the school essentially knows it. He was allowed to walk with Oklahoma State’s seniors on Senior Day this year. It would just be awkward now if he came back, though, there is a .01 percent chance that he still does.
Like Blackmon, Luck is as good as gone. He could have been a top five or the top overall selection in last year’s draft but opted to stay at Stanford to finish his architecture degree.
He has finished that now and is “absolutely” ready to play at the next level. "I think I'm going to hopefully play professional football if a team will have me.” He of all people should not be worried about a team not wanting him.
Another guy who has all but declared is Trent Richardson. Far and away the best running back in this year’s class, he is a consensus top 10 pick but more importantly is the fact that he has to provide for his two daughters and mother.
He also only has a couple credit hours left in order to graduate from Alabama. There is really no reason for him not to go at that point.
One of the most underrated players in the entire country, Mohamed Sanu will reportedly return to Rutgers for his senior season.
The anonymous source said that he had told coaches he will return, but the athletic department publicly stated that no one has made a decision on the draft yet. It would be odd for them to keep such good news quiet, because Sanu could be just as good in the NFL as Ray Rice.