According to multiple reports, Mississippi State defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus, North Carolina State outside linebacker Terrell Manning and a trio from Stanford -- quarterback Andrew Luck, offensive tackle Jonathan Martin and offensive guard David DeCastro have all announced their intentions for the 2011 season to be their last as amatuers.
Add to that list Arizona State inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict -- at least according to his facebook page.
The 6-3, 250 pound Burfict thanked fans and teammates for the memories he's had at Arizona State and wrote that he'll be "expanding [his] talents to the next level."
Burfict erased any doubt about his intentions Tuesday afternoon in releasing a prepared statement. The statement reads:
“After thoughtful and in-depth discussions with my family, I have decided to skip my final year of eligibility at Arizona State University and make myself eligible for the 2012 NFL Draft. I would like to thank every one of my coaches and professors at ASU. I plan to return to ASU and get my degree and I will always support the university and its football program. I cherish the memories and great times I had as a student-athlete at ASU and I hope to make the university proud of my future accomplishments on and off the field.”
Outgoing head coach Dennis Erickson characterized Burfict's junior season as "average." There may not be a more accurate way of putting it.
While Burfict certainly has the hype and talent to warrant leaving school early, quite frankly he's been a disappointment over the past two seasons.
For a player nationally known as an intimidator, Burfict only registered 69 tackles (including seven for loss) in 2011, along with one interception and one fumble recovery. He was not recognized by Pac-12 coaches as a first, second or even honorable mention player following his junior season. This is quite a drop from Burfict's 2010 season in which he led the team with 90 tackles and earned Second Team accolades. It is an even bigger disappointment considering that in 2009 he was named the Pac-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year.
Burfict is explosive. He can rock ball-carriers in the hole, is particularly adept rushing the quarterback and plays with a ferocity that could quickly make him a fan favorite. As you'll read in our official NFLDraftScout.com profile for Burfict, there are plenty of aspects about his game that translate well to the next level.
However, he has been prone to immature behavior that has cost his team penalties at critical stages of games throughout his career. He's not as instinctive as his reputation might lead you to believe, has a soft build and hasn't shown any real improvement since first stepping onto the ASU campus.
As such, he's currently ranked third in our rankings of inside linebacker prospects.
Quite frankly, I think he's as overrated a prospect as there is in the country. He may prove me wrong. He certainly has talent to do so. However, Burfict won't soon get added to my ranking of the top 32 prospects in the draft. Burfict, in fact, wouldn't make my list if the Big Board contained twice as many players.