Steve Spurrier: If a junior wants to go to the NFL, he should


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 “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.

27 responses to “Steve Spurrier: If a junior wants to go to the NFL, he should

  1. Spurrier is right. But I hope each and every one of the kids in that situation gives it serious consideration and even talks it through with former players before making the final decision.

  2. In general that all sounds very sensible, but just don’t have a blanket attitude towards severing the ties so quickly as a programmed response. There could be from time to time an individual player that is going pro based upon a disillusioned view of how great their chances are. A good coach just needs to have that player’s back and make sure they aren’t way off on their expectations.

    There surely exists a list of players out there that have left school early and never made it in the NFL that would have if they stayed in college for more coaching and development. We’ll never know who specifically is on that list, but it will happen to some and it’s just worth noting that any general rule still has those occasional exceptions to the rule to think about too.

  3. “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.”

    Relatively speaking anyways. It is the SEC after all.

  4. I have never thought kids staying to get their degree was a smart idea. First, you can always go back and finish if it’s really that important to you.

    Let’s take Andrew Luck. Sure he went #1 when he came out, but he probably would have been #1 the previous year too. Now he can never get that first year’s money back. Never.

    Or let’s take a guy like Matt Barkley. He was the consensus #1 pick his junior year, he has a so so season and then gets hurt and he falls to the 4th round. Even if he proves himself and finally gets that big contract, he can never earn that money back that he lost.

    If someone wants to pay you more than 99% of us will EVER make in a job to play football…. go play football, or basketball, or whatever sport.

  5. Noway!!! The NFL should only allow college students in draft only if they graduate. You hear about how many are broke, in trouble with the law or doing nothing because they don’t have a degree. These kids are getting scholarships,they should honor them and graduate.

  6. A one-size-fits-all approach to kids leaving college for the pros is not being a good coach. These parents count on coaches to do more than just give the kid good football advice. A guy that’s not going to get drafted shouldn’t be given the same advice as Jadaveon Clowney.

  7. I agree, johnnyjagfan. It reminds me of the NBA and people supporting kids coming out right after high school. Not everyone is Lebron James. Look at Lenny Cooke. He wasn’t even drafted.

  8. The important thing to recognize is the individuals desire to play football. If that desire is diminished by playing college because they want to play in the NFL and get paid, then it’s not a good situation for anyone.

    You hear all the time, leading up to the draft, about a player’s passion and desire. A few of the top draft picks this year were criticized for their lack of passion and effort and desire. I think a big part of Johnny Manziel’s criticism comes from people who believe he wants to party more than he wants to play football (and I think that’s a fair judgement).

    The most important thing the Seahawks look for in players is passion. They all have that chip on their shoulder that drives them to be better. Talent is NOTHING without motivation. Just ask Titus Young or Josh Gordon or any number of other flunkies.

  9. With the character issues that Hampton had, he needed another clean year for teams to take a stab at him. Instead, he declared and had 2 more off the field incidents and went undrafted.

    POOR decision for a 3rd/4th round talent. Cost him a lot of money.

  10. Wow, a coach who actually believes in the American way of life. By law, anyone over the age of 18 is an adult, and should be allowed to do what they want with their lives.

    There are plenty of resources these young men can use to figure when or if they will be drafted. In fact, I think they can ask the NFL and the NFL will give them a projection.

    Such a paternalistic society we live in. We all know how everyone else should live their lives. If you really cared about these “kids” how about we break up the NCAA cartel and give kids who need money and will never earn a college degree no matter how long they “stay in school” an opportunity to earn at least a modest living while developing their talents in a true minor league?

  11. Not so sure nfl washouts are broke and dysfucntional as a result of them not having a degree, since they could go back and finish school if they wanted to.

    Maybe there is another reason they are broke washouts that has nothing to do with whether or not they were pushed through college by the program.

  12. This is a no-win situation for a guy like Spurrier. If he says the players should stay then he’s getting rich while the kids are risking it all. However, if he says they should go pro, he’s not caring about their futures.

    It’s a no-win but I applaud Spurrier for this standpoint.

  13. Let’s be honest, most of these kids are going to college b/c they think they’re the 1.4% to make it to the NFL. They either put forth the minimal effort in the classroom to stay eligible or they’re functionally illiterate. Let em go, they’re not suited for scholastic surroundings anyway.

    @Texansblog: Andrew Luck is the exception to the rule. 1) he’s intelligent academically (engineering degree from Stanford) & 2) he doesn’t need the money to take care of his mom & siblings.

  14. Can’t stand Spurrier, but I agree. The NFL has no right to prevent a man from making a living.

    I’d love it if things like grade point average were worked into college team rankings. But, the NFL tends to dislike players who are “too smart”. That’s too much of a threat to the neanderthal coaching staff.

  15. This from a coach who did not know how to coach up pass protection calls in the NFL, which is one of the main reasons he’s back in college-check it out and see if I’m telling the truth?!

  16. Selfishly, as a fan, College football will turn into college basketball if they continue to lower the age. Before you know who they are, they’d be gone and watching the game wouldn’t be as much fun. It’s good for the game to have fans be able to grow up with the players. Once they hit the NFL there is a high % chance they don’t make it on the field very much, and if they do, it can be a short trip.

  17. While I generally agree with what Spurrier said, I disagree with the notion of “go pro now, because you might get hurt.” Yes, I know that’s exactly what happened to Lattimore (even though he could not have turned pro any earlier than he did), but I don’t agree with any athlete making a decision based on whether or not he might get hurt. That’s playing scared, which will get you destroyed in the NFL. If you decide you want to go pro because you are sure you will get drafted high and get that good money, fine. But don’t turn pro because you are afraid you’ll get hurt next year.

  18. I understand the idea that you need to cash your lottery ticket in case of career ending injury. What I don’t understand is why players who are undrafted yet still have eligibility left cannot return to their college team or any college team. This would allow a player a couple of years more development and maybe be draftable after two more years. Instead you have guys thrown on the unemployment line looking for day jobs for making a bad gamble.

  19. Most underclassmen ever declared this past year. Something around 100 guys. This is a trend. Look at the Senior Bowl….. lets just say not much talent was there. Some were not drafted that came out, but as a GM/Coach…. you need 53 guys ready to play not and not always go for highest upside. UDFA are going to be stars in the league, look at Worrilow, Burfict, Rogers etc….. They are doing just fine.

  20. @rugolin b/c once they declare, they start taking money from agents, loans from financial advisors, paid combine training & other benefits that qualify them as professionals for all intents & purposes.. there’s no way to out the genie back in the bottle & allow them to go back to school if undrafted

  21. Spurrier is right- even if you left school early and washed out after 3 years at minimum salary, you end up grossing $1.2 million. You lose half of that in taxes and agent fees, so let’s say you still have a half million left over. That’s more than enough to finish school (and even pay for a graduate program), start a retirement account, or start a business or whatever it is you want to do. As someone who has some graduate loans, trust me, get the money- you can always go back to school.

    That said, if you have to be on campus all summer, there’s no sense in not just taking some summer classes and getting far enough ahead that you can graduate in 3 years of school like Bridgewater or Griffin. Although that would require one to be smart. Then you can get paid a year earlier and still have your bachelor’s without having to finish piecemeal over the next few seasons.

    The position about which Spurrier is most correct is RB. If you’re a back, one more year is just another year of 200+ hits. So you really need to go after 3 years of school if you have any pro aspirations.

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