Georgia had three underclassmen elect to forego their senior season. And most expected some of that after the great season the Dawgs had. Most understand you have to strike while the iron is hot. Musa Smith ran for 1,324 yards this season, which was over double his career best. His stock may never be this high again. He needs to do well at the combine, but he should make some team's roster next season. Chris Clemons will also be changing his address come April. Clemons was a nice surprise for the Georgia linebacking corps. He is certainly taking advantage of the situation by declaring early. He also needs some nice combine numbers and could be this year's Rufus French if he isn't careful. DT Johnathan Sullivan is stepping out into what looks to be a DL thin draft. If he can turn some heads in his workouts, he could be an early rounder.
Rex Grossman decided to get out while the getting was good. Grossman toyed with the idea of coming out last year after Steve Spurrier left for D.C. After one season with Ron Zook, Grossman's production is way down. In two years as a starter Grossman has thrown for 7,300 yards, but last season had 12 less touchdown passes and 5 more interceptions. Grossman was the early favorite for the 2002 Heisman, but all talk of that in 2003 has subsided. Two other Gators have left the swamp as well, DE Clint Mitchell and DT Ian Scott. Mitchell has the grit and guts to play in the NFL and should be a nice pro if he works hard. Scott is also taking advantage of the fact that there isn't much depth at D-line in this year's draft. Needs good workout numbers, but may be a 1st or 2nd rounder.
Arkansas had one of their biggest distractions declare for the NFL draft. FS Ken Hamlin elected to vacate his dorm as well as his probation officer's office by leaving school. While Hamlin is very talented, I can't imagine there were too many people who begged him to stay. Hamlin has big play potential and doesn't flee from contact. He will need some huge combine numbers to move up. This draft will have several talented DBs.
Believe it or not Kentucky had an underclassman declare for the draft and he is a good one. DE Dewayne Robertson will make a nice pro if he can stay healthy. Robertson had a strong junior season and with a little help should be an early round pick.
Tommy Tubberville will be a couple tight ends short next season. TE Robert Johnson has taken his 12.2 ypc average with him to the NFL. Johnson had 30 catches and 4 of those were touchdowns. He has great size, but could use a few more pounds. Has a great NFL frame.
I understand, but disagree with LaBrandon Toefield turning pro. He hasn't had a healthy season since his sophomore season in high school. His knees have been torn up and he missed 4 games this year with a broken arm. Many expected Teaux would leave early, but those thoughts were abandoned when he went down with another major injury. He may be labeled as injury prone by most scouts and that would be a fair assessment. Teaux rushed with 1,060 yards in 2001. In 2002 he had less than half of that. In 2001 Teaux scored 19 TDs and only 2 in 2002. To say he didn't have a money year is putting it mildly. He has the talent to make it in the NFL, but he can't stay healthy. If he is drafted in the top half of the draft I'll be shocked.
The talented wideout from Tennessee, Kelley Washington, has had all the college life he cares to. Washington had a breakout freshman season and then declared for the draft. He later reconsidered and returned to what turned out to be an injury-plagued sophomore season. He has over 1,500 yards in two seasons and holds the school record for receiving yards in a game. He has the NFL prototype physique, but has a lot to prove. Big tight end Jeremy Witten will draw a lot of attention from NFL scouts. Witten had a career season with 39 catches nearly 500 yards and 5 scores. Witten is a dominating blocker and has the versatility that NFL teams like. Many teams have their specialty tight ends, blocking or pass catching. Witten can do both.
It's a talented crop leaving the SEC. Many could argue the group last year with New Orleans Saints DE Charles Grant and Houston Texans WR Jabar Gaffney were more talented, but more of these guys have a chance of making and staying on an NFL roster. Just ask former LSU LB Trev Faulk, who left early and never got drafted. There may be one of those type guys this year, but I don't think so.
Until next week,
Steve Robertson is a free-lance correspondent who writes The Robertson Report for the premium site portion of Gene's Page. Steve's email address is email@example.com.