Multiple agents told Ben Standig of The Athletic they believe college football players with hopes for NFL careers will not play this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already caused multiple conferences to cancel nonconference games.
"If this [COVID-19] really continues down the path that I think it's going down, there is a very likely chance that there's going to be some high-profile kids signing with agents in the next 60 days," one agent told Standig. "They're gonna bail."
"I mean, I'm recruiting some high-end kids," another agent said. "I talked to probably four of them last night, and they all echoed the same thing. Like, they're done. This is over."
The Pac-12 and Big Ten have already eliminated their nonconference slates, and the Ivy League has postponed all sports until the 2021 calendar year. The ACC is reportedly planning to cancel its nonconference schedule as well, per Brett McMurphy of Stadium.
The news comes amid word that the United States saw 66,281 new and confirmed COVID-19 cases reported Sunday alone, per the World Health Organization, marking the single-highest one-day total thus far.
"It feels like we're just postponing the inevitable," a Power Five athletic director told The Athletic's Nicole Auerbach last Friday.
2020 college football appears to be on the brink, and with that in mind, some players with NFL aspirations may feel the need to get ahead of the curve, sign with an agent and train for the 2021 draft under the assumption of a lost season.
That is far from official at this juncture, but news has not been positive as the scheduled August 29 start for the 2020 campaign nears.
College football officials have apparently looked into a spring 2021 season and asked the NFL if it would consider postponing the draft, per Dan Wolken of USA Today, but the league is not interested.
As for the players, one agent believes top college stars like Clemson signal-caller Trevor Lawrence have nothing to gain by returning and everything to lose.
"There's literally nothing to gain [by coming back] for these top players other than, you know, the greatness of Alabama football and Nick Saban or Dabo Swinney and Clemson football," the agent said to Standig in part. "I mean, what benefit truly is [there] for you to play? There's no benefit. All risk."
On the flip side, other prospects who aren't considered superstars would miss opportunities to produce better highlight reels, per one NFL talent evaluator.
"Fresh tape is so important. Prospects do not want to pass up an opportunity to improve stock cuz other prospects will improve stock by playing."
Players may not get that chance, though, as COVID-19 continues to spread in the United States.