When I posted the list of 73 early entrants in the NFL draft, I heard from a couple readers who wanted to know why Alabama’s D.J. Fluker and Syracuse’s Justin Pugh weren’t on it. The reason, according to the NFL, is that Fluker and Pugh are in a separate category of players in the draft, having notified the NFL that they have graduated.
Although Fluker and Pugh both redshirted a year and could have chosen to return to school and played their final seasons of NCAA eligibility in 2013, they have also been cleared to play in the Senior Bowl, which was previously limited only to players who had completed their NCAA eligibility. Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage said he thinks allowing such players will make the Senior Bowl a better game.
“This is a breakthrough moment for the Senior Bowl game because the league allowed us to bring in these two players who graduated in December and were on campus for four years and their coach supported their candidacy for the Senior Bowl,” Savage said. “The reason we wanted to do this was because in the past there have been a number of fourth-year juniors who had graduated who were not allowed to play in the Senior Bowl.”
Fluker won’t play in the Senior Bowl becasue of a calf injury, but Pugh will play. Both are considered potential first-round picks.