Tag:Early Entries
Posted on: January 5, 2011 5:34 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2011 6:07 pm

Da'Quan Bowers declares for NFL draft

Posted by Adam Jacobi

It's nearly impossible for a defensive end to have a better season than Clemson junior Da'Quan Bowers had in 2010. Bowers led the nation in sacks, tied Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan for most tackles for loss, was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, was a unanimous first-team All-American, and won the Ted Hendricks Award in December. How many more exclamation points does one college career need?

To that end, Bowers surprised very few by declaring for the NFL draft today. Here's his statement released to the media, via The Herald:

"I want to thank everyone at Clemson for all they have done for me the last three years. I want to especially thank Coach (Dabo) Swinney and his staff for helping me develop on the field, and mature as a person, he said.

You hear people talk about the Clemson family, and when my father passed this past summer, I saw that first hand. There is a great support system at Clemson. The coaches and players were all there for me and I will never forget that.

I also want to thank my teammates for all the support the last three years. I would not have received these honors this year without them. I made lifelong friends at Clemson.

I feel I am ready to go to the next level and I look forward to working hard in preparation for the draft.”

It's hard to disagree that Bowers is ready; he was an elite prospect coming out of high school, and he's grown into a 6'4", 280-pound terror in just three years at the collegiate level. Bowers has even drawn comparisons to Reggie White and Bruce Smith from NFL draft analysts, and while those are certainly lofty goals, Bowers seems like the best prospect to meet those two's standards since, well, them. It's time for Bowers to start working toward those new goals and get paid handsomely to do so.

Posted on: January 4, 2011 10:25 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2011 11:52 am

Kyle Rudolph to enter draft

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While Notre Dame fans have spent the last four days waiting for stud wide receiver Michael Floyd to announce his intentions for next season, one of the other bigger threats in the Irish passing attack has reportedly made his decision.  According to a few reports, tight end Kyle Rudolph has decided to forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

Rudolph started the year as a pre-season All-American, but injured his hamstring in a game against Pitt earlier this season, and missed Notre Dame's last seven games of the season after having surgery.  It's the second season in a row that Rudolph battled injuries, though when he was on the field, the 6-6, 265-pound tight end was rather productive.

He caught 90 passes for 1,032 yards and 8 touchdowns over three seasons, and many believe he'll be the best tight end in the draft, which likely played a large part in his decision.

The good news for Notre Dame is that Tyler Eifert proved to be a capable replacement for Rudolph after he went down to injury.  Of course, if Michael Floyd decides to enter the draft, and most think he will, that will leave the Irish with two big play-making targets to replace next season.

Update: Notre Dame director of football media relations, Brian Hardin, confirmed the news on Wednesday morning.
Posted on: January 4, 2011 12:44 pm

UCLA's Akeem Ayers entering draft

Posted by Tom Fornelli

UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers had a choice to make.  Did he want to come back for his senior season, likely another down year, at UCLA, or did he want to go make a few million dollars in the NFL?  What do you think Akeem chose to do?

“I want to thank my coaches, teammates and everyone at UCLA for all of their help the last few years,” said Ayers in a statement released by UCLA. “I have had a great experience at UCLA and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to attend such an outstanding school.

“I will miss playing with my UCLA teammates next year but I feel that the decision to go to the NFL is what is best for my family. I will always be a Bruin.”

I know, I was shocked too.

Ayers is projected to be a top-20 pick in the NFL draft this spring, so it only makes sense that he'd be leaving school to cash in on his potential.  Especially considering he missed quite a bit of time this season with an injury -- though that didn't stop him from being named first team All-Pac-10 -- and returning for his senior season only to be injured again would hurt his draft status.
Posted on: January 4, 2011 11:57 am

Miami CB Brandon Harris declaring early

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With Randy Shannon gone from Miami , any Hurricanes he recruited to Coral Gables aren't too likely to stick around if they believe the NFL will give them a fair shake in the draft. So it's no surprise that two-time All-ACC cornerback Brandon Harris has elected to move on to the next level after his junior season :

“I’ve done a lot of thinking, going over it with my family and I got some advice for some former coaches, people who have been involved with me closely and I just decided that it was just time for me to declare for this year‘s NFL Draft,” Harris announced to InsideTheU Wednesday morning.

Harris finished seventh on the team with 45 tackles this past season. He also had one interception, two forced fumbles, and nine pass break-ups en route to second-team all-conference honors.

He received an encouraging grade from the NFL Draft advisory committee prior to the Sun Bowl that he was satisfied with.

“The committed told me some great things after they evaluated my film,” Harris said. “The position I was in it was kind of the point that it was hard to turn down. I’ve worked my butt off to get to this point, I did everything I could possibly do to set myself up to be in this position one day. Now that I am actually here, it’s time to take that next step, and see where I can go from here.”

The advisory committee hasn't always had cornerbacks' best interests in mind (witness Michigan's Donovan Warren coming out last spring after an encouraging grade, only to go undrafted), but with a handful of 2009 All-American honors under his belt, a major role on the nation's third-ranked pass defense, and a firm spot on the NFL's radar , Harris isn't in any danger of slipping too far down the draft.

But if the move makes a lot of sense from Harris's position, it's not going to help a Miami secondary that's already losing two seniors from the two-deep at corner. Al Golden will have to find some players willing to grow up in a hurry to keep the 'Cane pass defense anywhere near the lofty perch it enjoyed in 2010
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