NFL prospects weighing future
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Big Ten and Pac-12 postponing their fall football seasons because of the coronavirus pandemic leaves some NFL prospects facing a dilemma: Leave now or leave later.
Take Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, a Heisman Trophy finalist last year. He will be eligible for the NFL draft and almost certainly will be a top 10 pick whether or not he plays another down of college football.
But he’s already worked hard preparing for this season, and the Buckeyes were expected to be one of the top two or three teams in the nation. There might still be a Big Ten football season to play in the winter — Fields’ coach, Ryan Day, is pushing hard for one — but the logistics could take weeks or months to figure out.
That forces a holding pattern for Fields and other top-tier NFL prospects like Buckeyes cornerback Shaun Wade and offensive lineman Wyatt Davis, and Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell, the reigning Outland Trophy winner.
“From a business point of view, there is little reason for (Fields) to continue playing in the spring,” said Andrew Brandt, a former Green Bay Packers executive and NFL agent who now directs Villanova’s Moorad Center of Sports Law. “That, of course, doesn’t take into his account his interest of being part of a college program, playing for his school and all those emotional things.”
Day is counting on those things to pull on Fields and some of his draft-eligible teammates as the coach tries to persuade and them to stay around to see what happens next.
“I think Justin wants to see what the schedule is,” Day said. “And I think it’s our job, and we owe it to these guys to make sure that we do put the schedule out and put the plan in quickly here so guys like Justin can plan for his next year, next few months.”
Fields hasn’t said anything publicly about his plans since the Big Ten’s decision was announced Tuesday but was a leading voice in last week’s lobbying effort by players to save the season.