An SFBN Special Report - Part 2 of 2.
Providence, RI – “The game will go on without u”, that was the tweet from NFL legend Dion Sanders two weeks ago to football players across the NFL, College and even the High School ranks optioning out of playing in the 2020 seasons that will take place in the fall and/or in the spring as some colleges are looking towards.
However, there is an interesting construct to this in regards to the NCAA and High School players that have made this choice.
Last week, in part one of this series we reported on the dynamic impacting NCAA programs as conferences and schools cancel or move their seasons to the spring. The NFL, which traditionally holds its draft in the early spring (March or April) has stated they don’t have much intention to move the draft. This has left many college players who at times do opt-out of their postseason bowl games, if they are not in the CFB Playoffs, to protect their body from injury so as to not diminish their draft stock. Now, we are saddled with potentially seeing elite college players opting out of the entire season, leaving many elite programs such as The Ohio State University, Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida, LSU, Notre Dame and others scratching their heads as to how they’ll field a team come March.
Enter the newest wrinkle to the bizarre 2020 landscape of sports: High School Football players opting out of their senior seasons to Early Enroll so they can be eligible on their campuses when the rescheduled spring football season takes place.
Michigan, Ohio State and others have heard from recruits listed not just in the Top 5 on their lists but Top 5 in the country. This comes along with the shifting of players, who committed to other schools for 2021, that are changing their commitments to schools who will play in the spring. Many of these players believe that changing their schools will help them to capture that “earlier year” of college play. Doing this would cross off the box of needing three seasons of NCAA Football to declare for the NFL Draft even sooner. However, as we sit in an NCAA recruiting dead period, many coaches are facing the uncertainty of how players will choose to go this year or next. We may find elite Division I programs with a tricky situation of ensuring they have enough players in the years to follow and also not exceeding their scholarship regulations.
In Colorado, Sam Hart, Erik Olsen and Terrance Ferguson all have announced options to leave as CHSAA announced no fall sports. They will head early to Ohio State (Big Ten), Colorado (Big XII) and Oregon (PAC 12) all universities that participate in conferences who postponed their seasons to the spring.
However, back east in the Mid-Atlantic region and New England region states, while many of the colleges may not be playing, this isn’t a question for high school players. They will, for many of them play this season. The game is going on, with them!
The RIIL has rolled out a plan to start the season on September 14th and now that the “Safe Return of Education-Based Athletics” has gone out to all member schools, we have not heard of a single opt-out from any players.
While this brings an interesting dynamic in terms of the fitness and experience of players coming from the East Coast schools, it will be interesting to see what may be “Part 3” of this story, when the fall comes to an end, do we still see senior players from these states “early enroll” at their universities to get a second season in the spring. Only time will tell and as we say in journalism, “stay tuned for more”.