As we reported back on December 4th, Minnesota Gopher running back Laurence Maroney decided prior to the season that this would be his last campaign on the college field. After Friday's bowl loss to Virginia he made it official.
"I talked to my mom about it and we felt like it is the right time, so we both came to the decision together," he said immediately after the game. Maroney, who rushed for 109 yards in the loss at the Music City Bowl, posted a school record 1,464-yards on the ground in 2005. He will be a first round pick in April.
Another underclassman who looks like he's on his way out is Hurricane cornerback\return specialist Devin Hester. Sources told us back on December 13th that Hester would make the jump to the next level. Upon leaving Atlanta with the team on Saturday this same source told us that, while he had not personally talked with Hester, the feeling in the locker room and team hotel after the devastating loss to LSU was the explosive prospect will not be back at Miami in '06.
A pair of defensive backs from South Carolina are also likely headed to the draft.
Ko Simpson is in the process of signing with an agent and declaring publicly. While he signed to play with the Gamecocks in 2003, Simpson did not enroll at South Carolina until the spring of 2004, hence has been in school barely two years. Simpson is three years removed from high-school and falls under the rule implemented after Larry Fitzgerald declared for the draft two years ago.
The feeling in Columbia is Simpson's best friend on the Gamecocks, cornerback Jonathan Joseph is also likely to declare. A former JUCO transfer, Joseph had a breakout season after missing nine games with a broken foot in '04. Joseph led the Gamecocks with four interceptions and tied for second on the team breaking up nine passes last year.
The highest rated tight ends in the nation are juniors and both will be entering the draft.
While there has been no official announcement sources confirmed that Maryland's Vernon Davis has signed with an agent and could publicly announce his decision soon.
Division II prospect Danieal Manning of Abilene Christian has put to rest rumors which had been swirling and announced he will make the jump to the NFL. An outstanding athlete that's shown himself to be a solid run defender, Manning also produced as a return specialist in college.
League sources have told us Louisiana-Monroe wide out Drouzon Quillen is heavily considering the draft. The big bodied wide out is projected to the "h-back" position by some teams.
For years the NFL has stated its' stance against underclassmen entering the draft. Are they now putting their words into action?
Several people have told us they feel the NFL Advisory Committee, the branch which offers opinions to inquiring underclassmen as to the value of their draft stock, has purposely withheld or delayed requested reports to discourage early entry into the draft.
An example was given of a junior who made an inquiry to the committee in late November of 2004, only to receive his report on January 14th, one day before the underclassmen declaration deadline.
It must be noted that the NFL does have a three day "cooling off" period after the declaration deadline. During those three days any underclassmen who had declared for the draft can pull back their applications, retracting prior decisions.