The deadline for underclassmen leaving college early for the NFL may have passed Saturday but with some players (and programs) electing to not announce the news publicly, the number of prospects heading into the 2012 draft is sure to grow.
Auburn junior quarterback Barrett Trotter appears to be the first such example.
Trotter, 6-2, 207 pounds, was put in the unenviable position of trying to replace Cam Newton. With Trotter at the helm Auburn was nearly beat in their season opener against Utah State. He threw 10 touchdowns and six interceptions in starting the first seven games of the season for the Tigers. He was benched at halftime against Florida after completing just two of eight passes for 33 yards over the first two quarters. Trotter didn't see action the rest of the year until an injury to starter Clint Moseley during the Chick-fil-A Bowl put him back on the field. To Trotter's credit, he responded with arguably the best game of his career, completing 11 of 18 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown in Auburn's 43-24 victory over Virginia.
Despite his heroics, Trotter is not a highly regarded pro prospect. He was rated the No. 26 quarterback of the 2013 draft class by NFLDraftScout.com. Prior to his playing time in 2011 Trotter had only attempted nine passes in his collegiate career. He completed six of them for 64 yards and had also run for 68 yards and a touchdown. For his career Trotter completed 98 of 176 for 1,248 yards and 11 touchdowns against six interceptions.
Unlike some prospects with an inflated opinion of their standing with NFL scouts, this appears to be an example of a student-athlete taking the academic side of his life seriously while exploring his dream of playing at the professional level.
A redshirt junior, Trotter already has his undergraduate degree and according to Charles Goldberg of al.com is staying in grad school and planning to participate in Auburn's Pro Day tryouts in March.