There is less than 10 days before college football bowl season gets underway, and already nine marquee players have announced they are skipping the postseason. They are focusing on potential professional careers and don’t want to risk getting injured.
The origins of bowl defections began two years ago. Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and LSU running back Leonard Fournette decided to miss their respective bowl games in 2016 to protect themselves from a possible injury, college football purists roundly criticized the duo.
Now the list is reaching double-digits and will probably get to 10 or more before the first five postseason games begin on Dec. 15.
Big Man Makes Big Decision
Michigan’s Rashan Gary is one of the biggest names to opt out of playing in a bowl game. The junior defensive end, who is projected as a top-10 pick in April’s NFL Draft, recorded a video on Twitter announcing his decision not to play in the Peach Bowl.
“I would like to thank my higher power, my family, the University of Michigan, the students and the fans, but I will be forgoing my senior season to make a dream come true to declare for the draft,” Gary said.
While coach Jim Harbaugh tersely said Gary would not be playing, his teammates seemed overjoyed for him to be readying for the next level. Senior safety and defensive co-captain Tyree Kinnel said the team supported his choice not to play.
“I’m happy for him,” Kinnel said. “I mean, that’s a decision that comes down to him and his family. We all respect it. We all understand it. I can’t wait to see him at the next level and do what he does.”
The 6-foot-5-inch, 283-pound Gary had 137 tackles, 24 for a loss, and 10.5 sacks this season.
Greedy Williams Missing Fiesta
LSU’s Greedy Williams is another potential top-10 pick that decided it was in his best interests to not play in bowl game. The Tigers are facing University of Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl, but Williams won’t be on the field.
Coach Ed Orgeron confirmed the news in a telephone conference with reporters.
“I wish him the best. If that’s what he wants to do, we wish him and his family the best,” Orgeron said. “I didn’t know that was posted yet. We did have a meeting and we were going to have a final meeting, but that’s what him and his family want. They told me that he wasn’t going to play and that he’s going into the draft. We wish him the best. I haven’t met with all my juniors yet so I was going to announce it at the end when I had a final meeting with everybody, but we wish him the best. Tremendous young man and athlete.”
Four Receivers Taking Plunge
Receivers make up almost half of the defections for bowl games, as three wide receivers and one tight end have said they won’t play. Wide receivers N’Keal Harry of Arizona State, Deebo Samuel of South Carolina, Kelvin Harmon of North Carolina State, and tight end Noah Fant of Iowa, all will not be in uniform.
Of the four, Fant is expected to be the most desirable pick in the draft. He is projected to be taken in the mid-first round and should be the first tight end selected. The senior caught 78 passes for 1,083 yards and 19 touchdowns during his Iowa career.