One of the worst things about college football is seeing a player who’s good enough that he could be playing on Sundays get hurt on a Saturday, especially if that player is stuck playing for free in the NCAA because he’s not yet eligible for the NFL draft.
Such an injury occurred today.
Derwin James, a Florida State sophomore defensive back who’s so talented that he surely could have left college and been drafted after his freshman year, was carted off the field with a knee injury today. There’s no word on the severity of James’s injury, but even if he turns out to be OK, his injury is a reminder of the kind of risks that talented college football players are taking every time they step on the field. Every player on the field is one play away from being a Marcus Lattimore, a very talented player who plays the last football game of his life while he’s still playing for free.
If you haven’t seen James play, think of an athlete comparable to the late, great Sean Taylor. Think of a guy who has the tenacity and nose for the football of Tyrann Mathieu, but six inches taller and 25 pounds heavier than Mathieu. That’s the kind of player James is. Because he’s a true sophomore, he won’t even be eligible for next year’s draft, but he’s sure to be a Top 10 pick in 2018.
That is, he’s sure to be a Top 10 pick in 2018 if he’s healthy. A serious injury is the one thing that can make even a can’t-miss prospect miss. Unfortunately for those can’t-miss prospects, they’re stuck playing in the NCAA for free for three years before they can make a living in the NFL. Eventually, some can’t-miss prospect may decide that once he’s put enough of his talents on tape for the NFL to see, he’ll simply sit out until he can stop making money for the NCAA and start making money for himself.