What Will C.J. Spiller Do?

If one were to take a quick glance ahead to the 2009 season, it isn't hard to figure out the return of C.J. Spiller would be the equivalent of signing a handful of five-star prospects.

And writing it in that regard may not be doing it justice.

Spiller's electrifying ability to score every time he touches the ball, whether it's via a handoff or kick return is unmatched by almost any player in college football.

And this coming week, he will sit down with Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, armed with the information he receives back from the NFL Draft Advisory committee and make a decision that will not only impact his own life, but the life of the Tigers' football program as well.

While forecasting what the NFL will tell the talented junior is hard to do, it seems logical that at worst he will be a first day selection- meaning he's likely to go somewhere in the top two rounds.

"With C.J. Spiller, it's his ability to be a game changer and his overall explosiveness that makes him so attractive to NFL teams," notes Scout.com Draft Expert Chris Stueber. "If he were to enter the draft, he would probably be a late first, early second round selection."

But being a first-day pick doesn't guarantee Spiller would automatically leave Clemson for the NFL. In fact, all it does is muddy the waters because legitimate arguments could be made for both sides of the equation.

On one hand, if Spiller was to be drafted in the first round, the argument could be made he should leave today. Football is a rough and rugged sport and there is no guarantee he could make it through another year injury free.

After all, Spiller injured his hamstring this year and had to sit out the Georgia Tech game.

This coming week, Spiller will sit down with Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, armed with the information he receives back from the NFL Draft Advisory committee and make a decision that will not only impact his own life, but the life of the Tigers' football program as well.
And oh by the way, first round money is pretty good.

On the other side, there was a player at Clemson by the name of Gaines Adams who made the right choice when faced with a similar decision a few years ago. Adams was projected as borderline first-day pick back in 2005 but decided to return to Clemson for his senior year only to see him be drafted as the No. 4 overall selection in 2006.

Talk about a pay increase.

The last running back selected in the first round last year (No. 24 overall), East Carolina running back Chris Johnson, signed a five-year $12 million contract with the Tennessee Titans.

By comparison, Adams signed a six-year deal, with sources saying the deal was worth $46 million with $18.56 million of that guaranteed.

Adams' signing bonus alone was worth more than Johnson's entire contract, and every penny of that signing bonus is guaranteed money.

Spiller may not end up a top five selection in 2010 if he decided to return to Clemson for his senior season, but he would definitely have the opportunity for more guaranteed cash with a big year, like Adams did.

So what will he do?

You have to have a conversation with Spiller's two closest confidants at Clemson- head coach Dabo Swinney and James Davis to find out which way he's leaning, at least before hearing back from the NFL.

"We'll talk when we get back to Clemson," Swinney told CUTigers.com in a recent interview in Jacksonville. "But I think he'll be back. I really do. I think he'll be here.

"He beats to his own drum and I know he wants to graduate. We certainly want him to be here that's for sure. My gut is he'll be here but you never know."

Meanwhile, his partner in the orange and white backfield, the "thunder" in "thunder and lightning" has made it crystal clear what he thinks C.J. should do.

Stay in school.

"I kind of look at my situation last year," Davis said. "I told him to make the best decision for himself but at the same time you want to think about what you are going to because it's real life outside of this. I kind of got into real life after I declared and it was like, after you work out there really isn't much to do.

"I told him I just wanted to come back and have at Clemson and hang around the guys again. I wasn't worried about the money or anything like that and that's why I came back."

Remember also Spiller himself proclaimed in late October that there would be a "100 percent chance" of him returning if Dabo Swinney, then the interim head coach, was named Clemson's permanent head man.

Remember also Spiller himself proclaimed in late October that there would be a "100 percent chance" of him returning if Dabo Swinney, then the interim head coach, was named Clemson's permanent head man.
Swinney was his main recruiter back in 2006 and the two have built an air-tight relationship since then.

The decision itself is certainly weighing on his mind as web sites, draft experts and even his own teammates try to figure out what he's thinking.

"I'm not worrying about the mock drafts or anything like that or what people think," Spiller tells CUTigers.com. "Whenever I hear back from the NFL is when I'll make my decision.

"I'm going to let everybody else speculate if I'm going or staying. I've just been trying to stay away from that and last week I really tried to spend as much time with my family and my teammates as much I as could."

So what does it all mean?

It means unless the NFL Draft Advisory committee comes back and says he's a definite first-round pick, and possibly a top 15 selection, don't be surprised if he returns to Clemson for his senior season.

"If the NFL comes back and says he's a top 10 or top 15 pick, I'll help him pack his bags and go," Swinney said. "But if they come back with anything else, there's a decision to make."

Coming back to Clemson would also mean he's be the first member of his family to graduate from college and, of course, help him to increase his stock that much more for the 2010 draft.

Remember, with James Davis no longer in the mix in 2009, Spiller would have the opportunity to carry the load more than ever before. And the more time he carries the football, the more opportunities he has to showcase his Playstation-like ability and prove that he's more than just a 10-carry/game scat back who also specializes in kick returns.

And the more he does that ... well the better the chance he has to increase his stock, and so on and so forth.

Whatever his decision is, Clemson fans won't have to wait too much longer to find out as Spiller and Swinney are set to meet this week, soon after he hears back from the NFL.

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