Steve Spurrier coached No. 1 overall draft pick Jadeveon Clowney at South Carolina, and Spurrier has coached many other players who, like Clowney, left college to go to the NFL despite having NCAA eligibility remaining.
Spurrier is just fine with that.
“Any time one of them tells me he wants to go pro, I shake his hand and say ‘good luck, I’m all for you.’ I think the day of a coach trying to talk a kid into staying is not smart. It’s not smart,” Spurrier said, via NFL.com. “He can get hurt his last year. Marcus Lattimore, after his second big injury, he came to me and said ‘Coach, I’m going to go pro.’ I said, ‘I agree. You need to go pro right now. You don’t need to get that knee healed back up, then God forbid, get hurt again in another season where you’re not getting paid anything.'”
Spurrier said that’s his advice not only for sure-thing high draft picks like Clowney, and not only for players with injury issues like Lattimore, but even for players who may not get drafted at all. Spurrier says that if a player decides he doesn’t want to be in college anymore, he should leave — even if it’s a player like cornerback Victor Hampton or defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles, both of whom left South Carolina this year only to go undrafted. (Hampton signed as an undrafted free agent with the Bengals and Quarles signed with the Giants.)
“We had two that didn’t get drafted, but they were ready to go pro. When they say they’re ready to go pro, that means ‘I’m tired of school. I want to go try and get paid to play football,’ and it’s time for them to move on,” Spurrier said.
Players sometimes make bad decisions and turn pro when they could benefit from another year of college, but by and large Spurrier is right: If a college player doesn’t want to play college football anymore and thinks he can make it in the NFL, he should go ahead and try to get paid.