Jeremy Maclin made it official Tuesday when he announced his intention to enter the 2009 NFL Draft. At first, Missouri's All-American, all-purpose playmaker was all smiles. "It's been a long time coming".
"I've been here three years, seen a lot, experienced a lot." said Maclin. "Just working with these guys on the team, working with the coaches, they've shown me a lot, taught me a lot. Not only have the coaches helped me excel on the football field, but they also taught how to be a man, how to handle myself on and off the field, in the classroom, just little stuff like that."
Yes, Maclin looked excited about his decision, and who wouldn't be. He is projected as an almost surefire first-rounder by all accounts, and as Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel indicated, he has a really good chance of creeping up the projection boards with his workouts at the NFL combine and Missouri pro day.
Though Maclin walked into the conference room at Missouri's training facility with a bounce in his step and a gleam in his eye, it didn't take long for him to get emotional when talking about the teammates, coaches, and experiences he would soon be leaving behind.
When asked what some of the things were that made him think twice about declaring for the draft, Maclin responded emotionally.
"The relationship I built with my guys. The guys I came with like Spoon, K-Rut, Danario, all those guys man. Like I said, we've seen a lot together. Also you've got things you still want to achieve as a team…" Maclin said as tears began to well in his eyes. "I'm leaving a family, you know. This is my family. This is where I belong. All those guys were like father figures to me…The relationships you built with these players. The older guys teaching you things, just little stuff like that, man."
When watching Maclin, it was easy to tell that the decision to make the jump to the next level wasn't an easy one, but the time to weigh his options.
"There are pros and cons to both, you know." He said. "I sat down and tried to think of reasons to stay and think of reasons to go, but when it all came down to it, I had a talk upstairs with the coaches and they said, you know, you've got to follow your heart. As much as I love the guys on this team, the guys I came in with, I feel like I'm ready for the next level, and that's what my heart tells me…. I represent Missouri, I always will, I'll always be a Tiger."
Pinkel took the familial analogy a step further.
"My whole approach was, if he's my son, what I am going to tell my son." said Pinkel. "He's projected as a first round pick, and I if you're my son you got to strongly consider going, because that's the right thing for him, which is the ultimately the right thing for this football team, and you do the right thing for people."