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Undrafted Underclassmen Should Be Able To Go Back To College Football

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25: Former New England Patriots player Joe Andruzzi stands at the pdium as talks about the Bombing which occured during thir years Boston Marathon in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 25, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – If an NCAA football player elects to declare for the NFL Draft prior to finishing their senior year of college and they don’t get picked, what happens? Under current regulations, they can’t rejoin their alma mater’s team. Two former college and NFL players, both of which were drafted, think this rule should be changed.

On Rivals Podcast, Scott Mitchell, former NFL and University of Utah quarterback and Jason Buck, former BYU and NFL defensive end, argue that the NCAA is misguided on this rule and should allow players to go back to their school’s team.

According to the NFL, 30 underclassmen went undrafted in the 2019 NFL Draft.

It doesn’t end there for players, they still have a chance to sign with a team as an undrafted free agent but the financial reward is much less lucrative or secure. Mitchell said most players would be better off getting another year of experience at the college level.

Should undrafted underclassmen be able to go back to their college team?

I don’t know

Athlete First Mindset

“I really believe in taking care of the athlete first,” said Buck. “Especially college athletes.”

Underclassmen are typically feeling pressure from families, teammates, coaches and NFL teams, explained Buck.

“So if I’m a coach and a kid comes back to me and says ‘I really made a mistake…can I please come back?’ I put my arm around him and say yes, but I hope you learned a lesson.”

From a coaching perspective, Mitchell agrees in welcoming the athletes back but doesn’t care if they learned a lesson. Most teams need that player back on their roster. Typically, the players who declare for the draft early are a stud on the team, he said on the podcast.

Not only will allowing these players to return to their team be good for the team and beneficial for the player’s football career, but it will also ensure they are able to leave college with a degree and a complete education.


NFL Efforts

The NFL understands this issue. They have a college outreach program that aims to educate players on the risks involved when pursuing an NFL career.

“The overwhelming majority will never play in the NFL. And those who do will likely be out of football before they’re 30. That’s why it’s important for them to excel in the classroom as well as on the field. College prepares student-athletes for the realities of life — with or without football — and the NFL wants them to understand how important it is to stay in school and get their degree,” the NFL says on its operations website.

“That’s why it’s important for them to excel in the classroom as well as on the field. College prepares student-athletes for the realities of life.”

The program tells student athletes how truly difficult it is to earn a spot on an NFL roster, let alone keep that spot long term.

If you enjoyed this conversation subscribe to Rivals Podcast wherever you get podcasts or the KSL Sports app.

Listen to the full episode below.