Posted January 16, 2014

What schools are the winners and losers of 2014 NFL draft early entries?

Alabama Crimson Tide, Baylor Bears, Florida State Seminoles, Johnny Football, Johnny Manziel, LSU Tigers, NFL, NFL Draft, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oregon Ducks, Texas A&M Aggies, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins
Johnny Manziel may be impossible to replace, but losing Mike Evans hurts Texas A&M, too.

Johnny Manziel (2) is impossible to replace, but losing Mike Evans (13) will hurt Texas A&M, too. (David J. Phillip/AP)

To stay or not to stay? That is the question.

Many talented juniors in college football faced that conundrum as the 2013 season drew to a close. A record 96 big-time underclassmen opted to forgo their final year in college for an early shot at the NFL, blowing away the previous high of 73, set last year.

How did those decisions affect the landscape of college football? We break down the early NFL departures of several top teams across the country.

Hardest Hit

Texas A&M

It’s never easy to lose a Heisman Trophy winner, but to lose his top receiving target, as well? That’s the situation facing the Aggies, who must replace electric quarterback Johnny Manziel and stud wideout Mike Evans on their offense. Manziel rolled up 4,873 yards of total offense and had a hand in 48 touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore. Evans hauled in 1,394 receiving yards and had two games in which he had at least 279 receiving yards.

Now’s the chance for Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin to show what he can do in the SEC in the post-Manziel era. The good news for the Aggies is on the recruiting trail, where Sumlin’s latest class currently ranks fifth in the country, according to Rivals.com. Could five-star quarterback Kyle Allen and four-star wideout Speedy Noil provide a spark in 2014?

BURKE: 2014 NFL Mock Draft 4.0: Where is Johnny Manziel headed?

LSU

If it seems like we’ve seen this movie before in Baton Rouge, it’s because we have. The Tigers famously lost 11 underclassmen to the NFL after the 2012 season. Of course, all they did in ’13 was win 10 games with a reloaded roster. Coach Les Miles’ team will have to do much the same next fall thanks to another big group of early departures.

LSU loses its top two receivers (Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr.), its leading rusher (Jeremy Hill) and one of its best offensive linemen (Trai Turner). The bleeding doesn’t stop on defense, either, where the Tigers must replace defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson.

Along with the departure of senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger, the roster should look very different next fall. At least LSU can look forward to the arrival of freshman tailback Leonard Fournette, the country’s top running back recruit.

Alabama

The Crimson Tide won’t look the same on offense with the departure of senior quarterback AJ McCarron, and the list of exiting underclassmen is also noteworthy. Alabama will have to break in a new passer without vaunted offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.

Still, it is the Tide’s defense — the best in the SEC last season — that is losing the biggest chunk of underclass talent on the roster. Defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan, linebacker Adrian Hubbard and safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Vinnie Sunseri have all opted to leave Tusacloosa early.

The five early departures are the most in the Nick Saban era at Alabama; the Crimson Tide had never lost more than three underclassmen in a season under the coach. There’s always talent on the bench, but there could be a learning curve for a defense that gave up 79 points in Alabama’s last two games of 2013, both losses.

UCF

Quarterback Blake Bortles and running back Storm Johnson played huge roles on offense in the Knights’ BCS season. Their early departures means that their roles will have to be filled by new blood in 2014. Bortles has been pegged as a first-round pick, and he could even be the top quarterback on many NFL teams’ draft boards after a season in which he threw for 3,581 yards and 25 touchdowns, with only nine interceptions. Coupled with Johnson’s 1,139 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, it’s a lot of offense to replace.

The rebuilding task could be even more difficult considering UCF’s youth: Backup quarterbacks Justin Holman and Pete DiNovo and reserve tailback William Stanback are all freshmen.

Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish can take heart in the knowledge that quarterback Everett Golson will return to the roster this spring after a one-year hiatus, but there will be other holes to fill. Running back George Atkinson III, second on the team with 93 rushes for 555 yards, and tight end Troy Niklas, third in receiving yards with 498, both decided to leave South Bend early.

On defense, the line will be without end Stephon Tuitt, who led Notre Dame in sacks and tackles for loss. Big nose guard Louis Nix III also decided to turn pro. The mass exodus is unusual for coach Brian Kelly’s tenure with the Irish. In his previous three seasons with the team, only one underclassman — tight end Kyle Rudolph — declared early for the NFL draft.

Marcus Mariota bucked the trend and gave Oregon a huge boost by returning to the Ducks.

QB Marcus Mariota bucked the trend and gave Oregon a huge boost by returning to the Ducks. (Eric Gay/AP)

Breathing Easier

Oregon

Marcus Mariota was a top-10 pick in most NFL mock drafts. But that fact apparently didn’t sway the redshirt sophomore, who decided to come back to school for another year. The return of Mariota and his 4,380 yards of offense and 40 combined touchdowns should lessen the blow of losing running back De’Anthony Thomas. Mariota will also have talented center Hroniss Grasu reprising his role up front.

On defense, cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu also chose to return to Eugene for his senior season. The Ducks will likely be a major threat in the Pac-12 in 2014.

Florida State

The Seminoles will lose several big names from their BCS championship roster. Yet more than a few of Florida State’s key players opted to return to Tallahassee in 2014. The Seminoles’ losses are admittedly important ones: Defensive end Timmy Jernigan, wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, and running backs Devonta Freeman and James Wilder. But the bulk of the offensive line will be back, with tackle Cameron Erving and guards Josue Matias and Tre Jackson staying to protect Heisman winner Jameis Winston.

Along with the returns of wideout Rashad Greene and tight end Nick O’Leary, this Florida State offense could look a lot like the 2013 version. In terms of departures, the Seminoles made out easy compared to last season, when an team record 11 players were drafted.

UCLA

Bruins fans already had plenty to be excited about with the news that Jim Mora, who was rumored to be in the running for jobs at Washington and Texas, would remain the coach. But the return of Brett Hundley, their leading passer and rusher, might be even better news.

In Devin Fuller and Jordan Payton, UCLA will return two of its top three receivers, something that should help offset the loss of leading pass-catcher Shaq Evans. Meanwhile, four starters on the offensive line should also be back. Hundley, as a third-year starter, could be in the running for the Heisman if he improves on his 3,819 yards of offense and 35 total touchdowns from 2013.

A top-20 recruiting class could be joining the quarterback in Westwood next fall, as well. If an experienced offense can help make up for the loss of linebackers Anthony Barr and Jordan Zumwalt, the Bruins could be special.

The departure of Lache Seastrunk stings, but Baylor can be thankful it didn't lose Bryce Petty, too.

The departure of Lache Seastrunk (25) stings, but quarterback Bryce Petty (left) is staying. (Tony Gutierrez/AP)

Mixed bag

Baylor

One of the country’s most prolific offenses will lose at least one important underclassman in 2014. Junior running back Lache Seastrunk (1,177 yards, 11 touchdowns) is leaving school early. Senior wideout Tevin Reese will also be a big name to replace.

But the Bears do bring back quarterback Bryce Petty, who threw for 4,200 yards and 32 touchdowns, with only three picks. Tailback Shock Linwood showed flashes of Seastrunk’s ability this year and could become even more dangerous next season.

Ohio State

The Buckeyes’ painful end to the 2013 season took a positive turn with the news that quarterback Braxton Miller would remain in Columbus in ’14. If not for a knee injury that kept him out of nearly three full games, Miller would likely have been among the six Heisman finalists invited to New York in December. His return is good news for the offense, but the defense still loses junior linebacker Ryan Shazier and junior cornerback Bradley Roby.

A few more notable departures

A few more notable returnees

  • Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon (206 rushes, 1,609 yards, 12 TDs)
  • LSU offensive tackle La’el Collins
  • Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley (13 sacks, 23 TFLs)
  • Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson (106 tackles, 8.5 TFLs)
  • Washington defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha (13 sacks)

RICKMAN: Florida State, Alabama lead off the Way-Too-Early Top 25

39 comments
GaryBrunner
GaryBrunner

After the draft, please write an article on how many of the 98 were undrafted.  Maybe interview a few who regret their decision, and post the article in every college locker room in the country.

StocktonRocket
StocktonRocket

So I guess Bradon Cooks the Biletnikoff winner isn't a "notable" departure and a big loss for Oregon St.?

longbordr52
longbordr52

Bruin fans are salivating at the prospect of their most promising season in a loooooong time. It is truly realistic to begin talking about a 10-12 win season. I'm not saying we'll fulfill those expectations. Oregon and Stanford are still the top dogs, not to mention an ASU team that clipped us at home this year. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. But combined with another year of this coaching staff, almost the entire roster returning (including a Heisman candidate QB), and a schedule is is soooo much friendlier than last year, UCLA should enter next season as a unanimous Top-10 team.


This offseason will be torture just waiting.

rgreggrooms
rgreggrooms

What about Auburn tackle Greg Robinson? He's leaving the Tigers with two years' eligibility remaining and is projected to be a top ten pick in the NFL draft. That's a pretty hard hit, too!

Aggie81
Aggie81

The article failed to mention that we are also losing Matthews on the offensive line which should be a top 10 or top 5 NFL draft pick.  In my opinion, all three (Manziel, Matthews, and Evans) will be first round picks which will further improve our recruiting.  Since Texas hiring of their new coach, 2 of their commits are changed to A&M and a third has a campus visit this weekend.  Better fuel up the SWAGG copter or get a larger one.


Also, A&M already has Hill former South Lake Carroll State 5A champion and dual threat QB to compete for the starting QB position this fall. Both Allen and Noil enrolled early and started classes Monday to get a head start on the 2014 season.And the defense will only get better especioally with the top commits on defense.



Stand by for Version 2.0 of the Aggie Offense...

jacksonatl
jacksonatl

Well, Sumlin gets to try to prove that he deserves $5 MILLION per year....Unfortunately, I think he is another Gene Chizik and will get shown up in 2014.  Lucky timing and good negotiating on his part to get the deal that he got while Manziel/Evans were there.  Without an offense AND a defense, 2014 will be a disaster for A&M.

TimStanley1
TimStanley1

Mizzou loses Ealy and Josey and no mention?    Yes SI they do play pretty good football at Mizzou.   You might want to check it out some day.    You dont know what you are missing.

nomobo
nomobo

FSU and Auburn won't lose anything in the NFL draft because they didn't have anything to begin with. The new NCAA playoff system is designed to eliminate such a fiasco as the Auburn-FSU BCS National Championship game, Alabama, Missouri, South Carolina, LSU, maybe Arkansas, and, yes, even GA could have ground FSU into paste.

MikeSchultz
MikeSchultz

MOST Importantly my Beloved HURRICANES did not lose HEAD COACH AL GOLDEN to the PENN STATE JOB cause he know's this MIAMI Squad/Program is FINALLY in PRIME Position for a Run over the next  2-5 Year's. Also not losing Offensive Coordinator STACY COLEY who has Zero relation's to the now SOPHOMORE WR who came with him from FSU. The TALENT is Finally aged an improved their Play, if the Defense could keep playing like they did at the Start of the Year or even better IMPROVE on it they'l take the COASTAL.    

MikeSchultz
MikeSchultz

MIAMI has the DUKE still at RB even though this will be his last Year at CORAL GABLES but after he went down an even before, Dallas Crawford stepped up followed by Big Gus Edwards & now JOSEPH YEARBY, MIAMI's Top RB Commit is coming in early to. The WR's are Strong with just 1 Loss of a Solid Wide out in ALLEN HURNS but with the Starting of FROSH WR STACEY COLEY last Season he had 600 Yard's with 7 TD's, DORSETT will be back an HOPEFULLY Big DERRICK GRIFFIN is eligible also. 

But the TE's are back, the O-LINE lost 2 Starters but they have Plenty of Depth, also the FRONT 7 will Wreak some Havoc with PERRYMAN Coming back at LB, MIAMI's Always been a GREAT SECONDARY TEAM, I mean the CANES ARE SECONDARY U, TE U, WR U, RB U & LB U but the addition of some nice 6'0+ CBs/Safeties means the CANES are going to DOMINATE the COASTAL this Year, PERIOD.  


MikeSchultz
MikeSchultz

Man I'm STILL PISSED that despite only losing SENIOR Players an still having plenty of Depth & a New Great White QB in RYAN WILLIAMS finally getting his Shot to Start even though he Played GREAT Backing Up STEPHEN MORRIS the last 2 Year's & he played GREAT now it's this 6'6 225 lb QB's Team. 

I mentioned White because the Majority of the Time MIAMI's had a WHITE QB they've done Big Things from

JIM KELLEY, then BERNIE KOSAR, HEISMAN WINNER VINNY TESTAVERDE, STEVE WALSH, CRAIG ERICKSON, HEISMAN WINNER GINO TORRETTA, KEN DORSEY & even BROCK BERLIN Won the 2004 ORANGE BOWL plus he went 5-0 Vs. FL/FSTHUGU


kcity101us
kcity101us

@SInow Do You have the season results of the 1977-1978 Tennessee Men's Basketball Team?

Listening
Listening

I think this behavior (declaring for the draft early) is going to increase more and more.  It seems that many football players are not interested in learning anymore or finishing the degrees that were offered to them free of charge.  Also with all the transfers and early declares for the draft it does not look like there is any loyalty to universities and their football programs.  It's all about hoping you make it in the NFL. If not there is always Obamacare + welfare....

seaoly
seaoly

University of Washington is losing Bishop Sankey (top 3 rusher, division 1) and Austin Sefarian Jenkins, Mackey award winner for best Tide end.  Sankey finished right behind AZ's Carey, had a better average, and played on a better team.   Seems like a dropped ball to me, but whatever. 


Doug_Pedigo
Doug_Pedigo

@slmandel @ZacEllis Don't understand all the strutting by confs or teams about how many underclassmen come out early - flawed strategy

x72
x72

Loser will be what ever team drafts Manziel

goathammer.mf
goathammer.mf

@GaryBrunner You must be an Aggie.  Don't get your panties in a wad over kids chasing a dream.  Stop being the "concerned citizen"  and try to be happy for them in an opportunity.  Whatever you fire back with only makes you look like the pathetic overweight guy bouncing around Kyle Field proclaiming the program is bigger than everything.

Mel
Mel

@longbordr52Not trying to knock UCLA at all. That said, their schedule will be much easier, thus they should be a top 10 team? LOL

goathammer.mf
goathammer.mf

@Aggie81 Ok Agglet, again with the Texas talk.  Why are all of you guys so obsessed with Texas.  Hook "EM.

samasters88
samasters88

@Aggie81 aggy Always has to mention Texas, don't you guys? Topic isnt even ABOUT Texas - doesnt even MENTION Texas, and it still gets brought up? And ya'll wonder why people view you as the little brother.


Back to the topic at hand - Oregon does seem to come out on top here. I think the returnees are looking for that elusive Championship game that they seem to play all out for...until they lose. Then it's like they're 100% decommitted to the cause. Hope they make it a little further this year

TCUfan
TCUfan

@Aggie81Well, the complexion of things at A&M should certainly be clearer now that Manziel is gone.

Hmm, maybe not the best phrase to use. Sorry, Johnny.

CharlieFoxtrot
CharlieFoxtrot

@Aggie81 It won't matter who Sumlin brings in to replace those players if he can't get that defense fixed.

yehonala04
yehonala04

@nomobo Losing to Clemson really fried your brain ? Now you have Richt from FSU going out to get Pruitt with success from FSU . Herschel was  just so long ago.

yehonala04
yehonala04

@nomobo You again ; let them schedule FSU home and home if they have the balls. It has been 24 years since an SEC school other than Fla has been to Tally . Come on what are you afraid of ?

Cool
Cool

@MikeSchultz It appears that you have anger issues that need to be resolved soon.  This is just a wild guess, but assuming you are from Florida I can tell you there might be something in the water that is making men go crazy and start SHOUTING before they shoot someone.

stagger
stagger

@Listening I think the bigger reason is, with the new CBA and slotted salaries in the NFL, there really isn't a huge difference in staying another year to move up from the 3rd round to the 2nd round and risk getting injured by staying another year. The only ones you'll probably see stay now are the players that think they can improve and move up into the first 10 picks of the first round.

Mulva
Mulva

@ListeningWhat a narrow-minded response. What's wrong with declaring early? At any point, these guys could have a career-ending injury. Who are you to say they canb or can't declare. And loyalty? Look aty how all of hte head coaches switch schools when a better job opens up.

Rick57
Rick57

@seaoly Check your stats again. Sankey out-performed Carey, he did not finish behind him. But the idiots in the press drool all over the girlfriend-beating Carey and ignore the better running back.

Craig
Craig

@Cool @MikeSchultz Maybe he was visiting in Charleston.  I understand there was something in the water there.

yehonala04
yehonala04

@Craig @Cool @MikeSchultz  James Coley is the OC at Miami who came from FSU to the 305 in December of 2013. That he was not instantly transformed into Bill Walsh of the new millenia is a disappointment for the Canes its obvious. Better defensive lineman and more of them will go a long way in helping ..........or as we say in Tally ;"The Canes  1.3 years from being Bak  since 2005.

yehonala04
yehonala04

@Darren1 @PhillyPenn @MikeSchultz Does this negate all the great black players that played for Miami between 1978 and the present ? Their efforts and abilities contributed nothing to victory?