The LSU Tigers roster was left with many holes after a flurry of underclassmen bolted to the 2013 NFL Draft. In total, ten LSU players, not including former defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, have given up their final years of eligibility to make the leap to the pros.
While the players bolting for the NFL could be viewed as a negative, LSU head coach Les Miles views it as a good thing and said that he enjoys seeing his players have the opportunity to leave school early in pursuit of their dreams.
“I like the fact that we send guys to the NFL early and recruit guys with the potential to go to the NFL early,” Miles said, per USA Today. “I want every guy that I recruit to have the opportunity to play a long, extended career in the NFL. I’d like to develop them.”
Miles has been a brilliant recruiter since joining LSU and this year’s junior class is showing just how impressive of a job he has done. The highest rated recruiting classes during Miles’ tenure with the Tigers were in 2009 and 2010 — those are the players who are in this junior class.
ESPN college football analyst Rece Davis said last week that he believes all of the LSU underclassmen leaving early is not a sign of trouble in the program, but a sign of their success.
“I think this signifies that LSU is good at developing players and getting them ready for the NFL,” Davis said. “There is some great talent whose time to move on has come. It’s a good problem to have. The last thing you want is to have a bunch of seniors coming back who aren’t very good players.”
Is it a sign of LSU’s success or could it be the financial motivation? NFL Draft Report’s Mike Detillier is one of many who believe the pay scale in the NFL Draft that was agreed on in the new CBA has made it easier for underclassmen to make the jump to the NFL.
“This year there will be more than 70 when it’s all over,” Detillier said.
“More and more you are going to see middle-round juniors entering the draft because of the new pay scale from the new CBA. As a third or fourth round pick, you can make between $350,000 to $500,000 with a signing bonus. And it’s not worth it financially to stay another year in college to go up a round because the money is about the same. LSU is just one of the first real test cases where you had an extremely talented junior class. There will be others like this from other schools in the future.”
No matter what the reason, high school kids looking to make it to the NFL have to look at the success Miles has had developing talent at LSU. If you want to go to the pros, you have a very good shot if you go through the ranks with Miles. If you’d like to earn a living playing the sport you love, Miles has shown that he will give his players every opportunity.