Sunseri Decision Disappoints Tide

It was a disappointment to see that Vinnie Sunseri did not reconsider his decision to enter the 2014 NFL draft and pass up his senior season at Alabama. It would seem to be a mistake on his part based on the reports of draft experts. From past experience, however, it might be a mistake to underestimate Sunseri.

Vinnie Sunseri did not appear to be a spectacular player for Alabama, but the 6-0, 210-pound safety had spectacular moments. His strength, though, has always seemed to be his ability to do more than was expected of him. A highlight of the 2013 college football season would be Sunseri getting an interception against Texas A&M and returning it 73 yards for a touchdown, and juking Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel during the runback.

That play certainly would have made the Bryant-Denny Jumbotron pre-game hype in 2014 had Sunseri elected to be a part of that team with his fellow seniors.

Last Wednesday, Jan. 15 – or perhaps earlier – Sunseri filed papers with the NFL declaring his intention to enter the draft as an underclassman. A player who has been out of high school three years is eligible to enter the draft regardless of his college class.

Sunseri (and the other underclassmen who made that declaration) had 72 hours to reconsider. Sunseri and 97 others elected to stick with their intentions. Their college careers are over.

Accounts say that Sunseri agonized over his decision.

Sunseri is not the only Alabama player foregoing his final year of eligibility with the Tide. Others are safety HaHa Clinton-Dix, offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio (both projected as high draft choices), linebacker Adrian Hubbard, and defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan.

Sunseri is the only one of those who missed the last half of the season. He suffered an ACL injury. Sunseri, according to his teammates, is making rapid progress in his recovery from the surgery.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban recently noted that in recent years some 13 Bama underclassmen had declared for the draft and 11 had been first round draft choices. One who wasn't: Eddie Lacy, second round pick by the Green Bay Packers, was NFL Rookie of the Year in 2013.

Saban also remarked that a lot of guys had declared for the draft and added that perhaps a few too many had made that decision.

Suneri made an early impact at Alabama in part because of his fearless play on special teams. He remarked that he knew that was his best chance to play early and to help his cause as a safety. That may well be the formula for making it in professional football.

There had been reports earlier this month that Vinnie had been considering a transfer to Florida State, where his father Sal is linebackers coach. The reasoning, it had been reported, was that Vinnie (who has already earned his degree from The University) wanted to be closer to family. Although no one could deny the closeness of the Sunseri family, the family did deny that Vinnie ever considered a transfer to FSU.

Many in the Alabama camp wish that Sunseri had decided to return for his final season. Nevertheless, he goes with appreciation for his play and best wishes for his future. That wish might include that Vinnie doesn't end up close to brother Tino – who plays for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League.

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