This is a new feature where we'll list Disaster Ratings (one being the least problematic, to 10 being code red) for college football teams involving offseason retirements and injuries.
By Corey Long
Follow Corey @CoreyLong
Sept. 3 Update
QB Jamie Newman opts out of the 2020 season: HUH?!?! Disaster Rating
Forget Newman's statement about CoVID-19 because in this case I'm not buying it. He's struggled a little since making the transfer from Wake Forest to Georgia in the offseason, but I don't think it was as bad as reports may have made it seem. There are also rumblings that Newman and new Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken could never get on the same page. All right, that might make a little more sense. If Newman didn't think the offense fit him or he was being set up to fail, I can understand getting out of a potentially bad situation.
Newman (6-4, 230), out of Graham, North Carolina, started 12 games for Wake Forest last season. He threw for 2,868 yards and 26 touchdowns while added 574 rushing yards and six touchdowns. He was expected to bring more playmaking potential from the quarterback position for Georgia - something the Bulldogs have lacked in their most recent run.
In late May, former 5-star quarterback J.T. Daniels also transferred to Georgia from USC. Daniels, a redshirt sophomore, tore his ACL in the first quarter of USC's opener against Fresno State last season. He isn't cleared for game action yet, but he will be by the time the SEC opens its season on September 26.
As for the draft ramifications, they are significant. Charlie Campbell had Newman going at No. 27 overall to the Pittsburgh Steelers in his 2021 NFL Mock Draft
. The general projection for Newman was in the second half of the first round to the early second round and likely the fourth quarterback off the board. That's fine, but he could have changed that. Remember Joe Burrow? He was a late-round projection until he had the best statistical season by a quarterback in college football history, won the Heisman Trophy and the College Football Playoff en route to becoming the No. 1 pick of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Newman was the potential trigger man on a championship-hungry team playing in the SEC. He was going to be in the spotlight each week. Maybe he would have crumbled, but maybe he would've thrived and become a success story like Joe Burrow. We'll never know. Personally, I think Newman's draft stock can only go down after this decision. A good combine performance can limit the damage, but Monken has an NFL background and a lot of coaches are going to be getting in touch with him to wonder what went wrong in Georgia. It is hard to see a team investing a first or possibly a second-round pick on Newman right now.
I will be discussing this and plenty more on college football on a Facebook Live with Maceo Heard Jr. on the Atlanta-based "Crush Sports Network" on Thursday at 2 p.m. EST. Look up "The Crush Sports Network" on Facebook and listen in.
Sept. 1 Updates
WR Ja'Marr Chase opts out of the 2020 college football season: 9/10 Disaster Rating
Many of the top wide receivers in the expected 2021 NFL Draft class are opting out, and to be honest, Chase leaving makes the most sense of anyone. Charlie Campbell had Chase going No. 4 to the Cincinnati Bengals in his most recent mock draft
Chase (6-0, 208), out of Harvey, Louisiana, had one of the greatest seasons of any wide receiver in college football history in 2019, recording 84 receptions for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns. Chase's efforts earned him the Biletnikoff Award in 2019, and he was the undisputed No. 1 wide receiver prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Chase really shined when the lights were brightest. He had seven catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns against Florida, eight catches for 123 yards against Auburn, six catches for 140 yards and a touchdown against Alabama, and ended his collegiate career by torching Clemson for nine catches for 221 yards and two touchdowns. Why the heck does he need more game film? I think we've seen enough to realize Chase is the real deal.
This is a major loss for college football becaise another star will not play in this strange, abbreviated season. But in terms of draft stock, Chase was already the No. 1 wide receiver on the board and that wasn't going to change unless he suffered a severe injury. Now that the injury risk has been expunged, Chase's next step is the NFL Scouting Combine. From there, it is likely his eventual selection as a top-10 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
DT Tyler Shelvin opts out of the 2020 college football season: 8/10 Disaster Rating
Does anyone want to play for LSU this season? It's difficult to think that a dominating championship team might struggle to finish .500 a year later, but it's certainly not out of the question for the Tigers. Shelvin (6-3, 344), out of Lafayette, Louisiana, is not on Charlie Campbell's most recent two-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft, Shelvin is projected as a late first-/early second-round type by other evaluators.
Shelvin was a major presence on the interior defensive for LSU in 2019 while collecting 39 tackles with three tackles for loss. He is the fourth projected starter for LSU who is opting out this season joining defensive lineman Neil Farrell, cornerback Kary Vincent and wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase.
This is definitely a risk for Shelvin. Some projections have him late in the first round, but others, like Charlie Campbell, don't have him in the first two rounds, so it's likely that another season would've solidified Shelvin's draft stock - wherever it might be.
RB Kenny Gainwell opts out of the 2020 college football season: 9/10 Disaster Rating
Gainwell is arguably the top running back prospect for the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. Charlie Campbell has him going at No. 20 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. My view on running backs is pretty clear - the NFL punishes the ones who stay too long, so the fewer carries they can give for free in college should pay off for them in the pros. Gainwell's father told ESPN.com that their family has lost four members to COVID-19, which weighed heavily on Gainwell's decision.
Gainwell (5-11, 195), out of Yazoo City, Mississippi, was an absolute beast for Memphis in 2019. He rushed for 1,459 yards and 13 touchdowns last season while adding 610 yards and three touchdowns receiving. The competition in the AAC is a definite notch below the Power Five conferences, so there are going to be some question marks about Gainwell going into the combine. He has the perfect skill set for a running back in today's NFL, but he's going to have to put on some size and show he can handle more physical football if he wants to be a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
This is the loss of another top offensive player in college football, and Gainwell was going to make Memphis must-see TV this fall. That being said, this doesn't really hurt Gainwell's stock. He could've had a 2,000- to 1,000-yard season at Memphis, and he would still need to prove it at the NFL Scouting Combine to establish his draft stock. Taking it all into consideration, this was probably the best move.
Aug. 26 Updates
North Dakota State announces "showcase" game with Central Arkansas on October 3: 3/10 Disaster Rating
With the FCS putting off football until the spring, it likely meant the end of the short college football career for quarterback and likely first-round pick Trey Lance. Lance, who is currently the fifth overall pick to the Chicago Bears in Charlie Campbell's
mock draft, is likely a high first-round pick whether he plays or not, but with just 15 games under his belt and staring down a 15-month layoff before the NFL Scouting Combine, it's probably not a bad idea for him to get a real game in.
Lance (6-3, 221) had a phenomenal 2019 season as a redshirt freshman, throwing for 2,786 yards and 28 touchdowns with zero interceptions. He also rushed for 1,100 yard and 14 touchdowns. Lance checks off all the boxes physically and plays for a dynasty program that's won 37 games in a row. The past two North Dakota State quarterbacks have been drafted.
Carson Wentz, the most notable North Dakota State alumnus, was picked second overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016 and was headed toward an MVP season in 2017 before he torn his ACL in Week 14. His successor, Easton Stick, was picked in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Chargers and is likely to spend his second season in the league as QB3 behind veteran Tyrod Taylor and 2020 first-round pick Justin Herbert.
The risk is minimal for Lance as long as he doesn't get hurt. North Dakota State has one of the most impressively structured programs in the history of college football, and players just tend look good in the system. I don't know if Lance can improve his position in the quarterback totem pole - he's probably not going to be selected ahead of Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields - but he's going to get a game in and some more film plus about four weeks of practice time. That's not a bad thing to solidify his spot in the top third of the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
All four Florida "hold-outs" expected to return to practice, be available for Week 1: 2/10 Disaster Rating
This is amazing news for the Gators, who are ranked No. 8 in the preseason Top 25. Defensive end Zachary Carter is expected to fill in one of the holes on the defensive line left by the departures of Jon Greenard and Jabari Zuniga. Carter (6-4, 264), a redshirt sophomore, played in all 13 games in 2019 and had seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. He's in line for a breakout season in 2020, and with big numbers, he would be a likely early entrant into the 2021 NFL Draft.
Trevon Grimes, Florida's top returning wide receiver, announced he was leaning toward coming back late last week. Fellow wide receivers Kadarius Toney and Jacob Copeland announced their intentions to come back early in the week. This reunites one of the top wide receiving units in college football and should help all of their draft prospects.
If all three players had sat out, it would been likely that Copeland and Toney would have returned for the 2021 season. Grimes appeared likely to leave whether he played or not this season, but Copeland needs more reps and Toney needs to prove he's more than just a gadget player who has a tendency to miss several games per season with injuries. With quarterback Kyle Trask returning and under the watchful eye of head coach Dan Mullen, there is no reason the Gators shouldn't have one of the top-5-10 offenses in the nation.
Top linebacker Dimitri Moore decides to opt back in and play 2020 football season: 2/10 Disaster Rating
I won't criticize a player for opting out of this strange season, and I refuse to criticize one for changing his mind. It's a learning process for everyone, and frankly, there are secondary factors to consider, like the health of the closest people around you.
Moore (6-3, 230), a junior out of Cedar Hill, Texas, had 99 tackles and six tackles for loss as a sophomore. He had 84 tackles as a freshman and made the SEC All-Freshman team. Moore is on the preseason Butkus Award list for 2020.
Moore cited his grandfather's death from COVID-19 as his reason for opting out and said that his confidence in the protocols and testing being done by Vanderbilt are the among the reasons he has changed his mind. Vanderbilt is currently not practicing after multiple positive tests caused practice to be shut down on Friday.
There's little downside in Moore returning, outside of the health issue and potential injury. I think his draft stock can only rise on a Vanderbilt defense that may return all 11 starters.
Aug. 21 Updates
OT Jalen Mayfield opts out of the 2020 season, declares for the 2021 NFL Draft: 9/10 Disaster Rating
This might be the most intriguing situation for the 2021 NFL Draft. There's no doubt in my mind that Mayfield would be a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft if he could have played this fall. He might even have ended up as top-16 pick.
Mayfield (6-5, 319) was a highly productive tackle over his just 16 games at the college level. He gave up one sack in around 500 snaps last season, and when matched up against Chase Young last season, Mayfield did not give an inch. In the two primary 2021 NFL Mock Drafts
on WalterFootball.com, Walter Cherepinsky has Mayfield going at No. 8 to Jacksonville Jaguars and Charlie Campbell
has Mayfield going at No. 21 to the San Francisco 49ers.
I'm definitely intrigued to see how much Mayfield is adjusted, if any, in their future 2021 NFL Mock Drafts. Much like Gregory Rousseau, Mayfield represents a bit of a risk. Unlike the other three major leagues in America, the draft decision-makers in the NFL tend to value college experience over potential. So, the question with Mayfield is going to be if 16 games are enough. It's clear that he has the potential to be a cornerstone offensive tackle for the next decade, and while he is probably still a first-rounder, who's going to take that risk?
For Michigan, this is a massive loss assuming the team plays in the winter/spring. With the departure of Mayfield and cornerback Ambry Thomas, the Wolverines have to replace their best offensive lineman and their best cornerback.
CB Ambry Thomas opts out of the 2020 season, declares for the 2021 NFL Draft: 7.5/10 Disaster Rating
Thomas (6-0, 183) was the second Michigan play to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft on Thursday, opting out of whatever season the Big Ten is hoping to play in the winter/spring. Unlike offensive lineman Jalen Mayfield, who is leaving after a standout year as a redshirt freshman, Thomas has played a lot of college football and was primed for a big senior year.
Thomas has played in 39 games over three seasons, working his way up the secondary depth chart and participating on special teams as a kick returner. As a junior, Thomas collected 34 tackles, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and four pass breakups. He was Third-Team All-Big Ten in 2019 and on the Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list for 2020.
Thomas did not make the first round of the 2021 NFL Mock Drafts
of either Walter Cherepinsky or Charlie Campbell. The other projections I checked seemed to have him around the second or third round. Thomas' speed makes him a pretty interesting player. He can definitely run a 4.35-4.4 or possibly faster at the combine, so I expect he'll be one of the most interesting names batted around as the 2021 NFL Draft approaches.
As for Michigan, Thomas and Mayfield were two of best players on the roster. The Wolverines will not be better with them leaving, and don't be surprised if other players follow suit.
WR Sage Surratt opts out of the 2020 season, declares for the 2021 NFL Draft: 7/10 Disaster Rating
Surratt (6-3, 215) is the best wide receiving prospect to come out of Wake Forest in years. He had a major breakout season in 2019 with 66 receptions for 1,001 yards and 11 touchdowns over just nine games. Surratt, out of Lincolnton, North Carolina, is the state's career record holder in catches (366), yards (5,926) and touchdowns (80).
In college, Surratt had his biggest games against some of Wake Forest's toughest opponents. He had nine catches for 169 yards in a win against North Carolina, seven catches for 170 yards in a win against Florida State, and 12 catches for 196 yards in a close loss to Louisville. So the proof of Surratt being up for the moment is in the game film.
As for Surratt's draft prospects, I think his speed is a big enough question to keep him out of the first round or the top-50 picks barring him running a major eye-popping time at the NFL Scouting Combine. Surratt is a great athlete - he was also a fine basketball player in high school - who is very physical and very strong. He uses his strength to create separation. He's definitely going to have a lot of potential draft suitors in between late in the second round and early in the fourth round.
Surratt's departure is a big loss for Wake Forest and the ACC this season.
Aug. 18 Updates
CB Kary Vincent Jr. opts out of the 2020 season: 5/10 Disaster Rating
This is the second projected defensive starter who LSU will not have available for the 2020 season. Vincent (5-10, 189), out of Houston, Texas, was the Tigers' starting nickelback in 2019 and was second on the team with four interceptions and nine passes defended.
Vincent wasn't listed as a first-round pick in either Walter Cherepinsky's or Charlie Campbell's
most recent 2021 NFL Mock Drafts
. Vincent is, however, one of the top project nickelbacks in the nation and is probably looking at somewhere from Round 2 to Round 4. Nickel cornerbacks are now included in most teams' base defenses and are a growing priority in the NFL. Vincent has the speed and quickness to defend the slot, although he will have to probably get his size up a little and have a great performance at the NFL Scouting Combine. He could still be a top-100 selection.
Multiple Florida players potentially opt out of 2020 season: 7/10 Disaster Rating
It seems like more programs are going to make opting out a guessing game, so we'll just have to read reports of who is and isn't at practice. Earlier on Monday, Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason reported that anywhere from four-to-six players will likely opt out this season. Florida coach Dan Mullen wasn't as forthcoming, but the Gators had four major absences on the first day of fall practice.
Wide receivers Trevon Grimes, Jacob Copeland and Kadarius Toney all missed the first day of practice for the Gators. Defensive end Zachary Carter, a potential starter, also missed the practice. A couple of weeks ago, Copeland and Toney both tweeted about the possibilities of sitting out. Grimes actually decided against making himself eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft to return to school. Grimes, Copeland and Toney are the program's top three returning wide receivers this season, and collectively they were arguably the best returning group of wideouts in the nation. If those three don't play, it's a major loss for Florida.
Toney and Copeland would almost have to return to school in 2021 if they decide to opt out. Neither of them has put together the sort of production that would make them legitimate draft prospects. Toney has fought injuries over three seasons and saw just 22 touches in 2019. Copeland is only a redshirt sophomore and needs at least one more season. Grimes, however, is a big outside receiver who can run. He had 33 catches for 491 yards and three touchdowns last season. Grimes was also looking at a season as a true No. 1 guy with the departures of Van Jefferson and Freddie Swain. I think he'll take his chances with the 2021 NFL Draft process and try to get somewhere in fall somewhere between the second and fourth rounds.
RB Kennedy Brooks opts out of the 2020 college football season: 6/10 Disaster Rating
This an interesting one for sure. In most cases, we're supposed to say that not playing an extra season will likely hurt a draft prospect, but is it the same for running backs? It's a position that can get punished in an NFL draft by playing in college for too long or having too many carries. So, in that aspect Brooks is probably making the right decision. He isn't putting his health - on or off the field - in jeopardy while saving all those precious carries for a time when he can clear a paycheck. Brooks (5-11, 216) was a top-200-250 prospect in the nation coming out of Mansfield, Texas in the class of 2017.
Brooks missed the 2017 season with a shoulder injury and took a redshirt. He was terrific as a redshirt freshman, rushing for 1,056 yards - 8.9 yards per carry! - and 12 touchdowns in 2018. Brooks was almost as good in 2019, gaining 1,011 yards - 6.5 yards cary carry - and six touchdowns. He hasn't shown to be much of a receiving threat, only catching 10 passes in each of his two seasons.
From a draft standpoint, Brooks could've actually declared for the draft after the 2019 season, and with hindsight being 20/20, he probably wishes he would've done so. He's almost guaranteed to be invited to the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine, and that workout will be a big factor in whether Brooks can be a second-round pick or picked somewhere in the middle rounds. Running backs are just strange to judge in general, and it appears unlikely a team will spend a first- or even a second-round pick on a player who hasn't played in about 16 months.
Aug. 13 Update
The Big Ten and Pac-12 postpone the 2020 football season: Disaster Rating: HANGING BY A THREAD
Well, Tuesday was pretty heartbreaking wasn't it? There's a lot of information to gather here before I get into opinions and possibilities. The Big Ten and Pac-12 postponed all fall sports, including football; the Mountain West proceeded them by a day, leaving no football for the West Coast, the northern Midwest and a portion of the East Coast this season.
The SEC, ACC and Big XII are continuing to monitor everything, and they have convinced the AAC, Sun Belt and Conference USA - sans Old Dominion - to sit and wait with them. The SEC has a tentative start of the season at September 26. The ACC I believe has the first game on its schedule in September 12, and the Big XII actually had Oklahoma slated for a Week Zero game on August 29, but have since adjusted and will open the season on Sept. 12 with conference play beginning on Sept. 26.
That's 30 days away and seems pretty ambitious right now. The good news is that the outbreaks that were being reported in June and July have stabilized. The bad news is that students will soon be returning to campus and with that returns the potential dangers of another viral outbreak. How these programs can protect the athletes over the next four weeks will be the deciding factor. At Miami, head coach Manny Diaz says the players will be doing a hybrid of online and face-to-face learning to limit the interaction with other students. This should have been implemented from the beginning across the board.
As for the Big Ten and Pac-12 where do they go now? What's going to happen to the seniors and redshirt seniors who were expecting to play their final year of eligibility? Will they get an extra year? Is the possibility of playing an abbreviated schedule in the spring an actual thing? There are a lot of questions, and a general lack of a sole decision maker has led us here. Remember how the Power Five conferences wanted to operate football independent of the NCAA? That's why the Big Ten and Pac-12 made the decision they made without the support of the other three conferences despite sharing much of the same information.
Spring college football, as fun as it might be, doesn't seem to be realistic right now. I'm sure ESPN and the other TV networks would be thrilled to have the inventory of games, but the logistics seem tough to plan. Can the Pac-12 and Big Ten players hit the transfer portal? I guess, but have you seen the numbers of names still in the portal? Without a guarantee that the SEC, ACC and Big XII will play games, it seems like a hasty move that might not work out. As for the top-end draft prospects like Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Oregon tackle Penei Sewell and Stanford tackle Walker Little, it's time to hire representation and prepare for the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine and the 2021 NFL Draft because the 2021 preseason will probably be the next time we see them take a snap.
I don't have a problem with the decisions made, whether they are to wait or postpone the season. These are tough decisions no one wants to make. I don't believe anyone wanted to end the hope of playing football, especially with all the money at stake. These conferences are generally sharing the same medical information, so clearly the powers to be in the Big Ten and the Pac-12 didn't feel comfortable with what they were hearing.
It also needs to be said that the players in the Pac-12 and the Big Ten had mobilized and made some significant demands to assure their safety. In the Pac-12's case, the players wanted direct access to conference commissioner Larry Scott. These demands were more specific than the #WEWANTTOPLAY initiatives, and while I don't think they were the deciding factors, it's no secret that the biggest fear the power brokers in college football have is players becoming more empowered and vocal.
So, there's a lot to still unpack. The fact is there won't be Pac-12 or Big Ten football in 2020. There might be ACC, SEC and Big XII football, but no one is ready to say there will be. As the coronavirus pandemic extended into the summer months, we knew that this was a possibility. For the Big Ten and the Pac-12, the clock ran out. The other three conferences are holding out hope. It might be a long shot, but there's still enough time to throw a Hail Mary and see what happens.
Aug. 10 Updates
Mid-American Conference postpones the 2020 football season: 13/10 Disaster Rating
I won't say this is the beginning of the end, but there's nothing good to come out of the Mid-American Conference - MAC - being the first to decide not to have a go at it for the 2020 fall season. This would appear to be the first of many dominoes that will fall early in the week, with the likely result of the Power Five conferences deciding to push football to the spring.
MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher explained his decision while choking up, but in between his pauses to gather himself, he said something very telling. "If you told me in March we'd be here today, I'd never have believed it." I wish I could say I was surprised that the decision-makers didn't have the foresight to think about all the potential scenarios that could jeopardize football after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled basketball tournament season and the spring sports, but I'm not. They had five months to figure out safeguards and contingency plans and solutions for every scenario that could be expected.
Instead, those decision-makers kicked the can down the road and hoped that COVID-19 would go away by the summer. It didn't go away. I expect the conference commissioners will be much more proactive to make sure some sort of season happens in the spring.
Pittsburgh DL Jaylen Twyman opts out of the 2020 season: 7/10 Disaster Rating
The ACC is losing some quality defensive players. We've already touched on Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau and Virginia Tech defensive back Caleb Farley. Now Twyman, an Outland Trophy finalist and All-American candidate, will skip out on his junior season to focus on the 2021 NFL Draft.
Twyman did not appear in the most recent Mock Drafts for Walter Cherepinsky or Charlie Campbell. He is rated as the fifth best defensive tackle by ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper and would likely have a draft projection in the first two rounds. Twyman (6-2, 290), from Washington D.C., is coming off of a banner season in 2019 with 41 tackles and 10.5 sacks.
Clemson DL Xavier Thomas will redshirt in the 2020 season: 6.5/10 Disaster Rating
Thomas, a former "five-star" prospect out of Florence, South Carolina, was hoping to use 2021 as a "prove it" season to improve his draft status. He isn't in a position to declare for the draft, but he made the decision to redshirt instead and return for the 2021 season.
This impact rating would be a little higher if it looked like the 2020 college football season would absolutely happen. If it gets moved back to the spring, which seems more likely by the day, Thomas (6-2, 265) might decide to play in the spring depending on where the country is with the coronavirus pandemic in a few months. Thomas was expected to be Clemson's top defensive lineman this season.
Purdue WR Rondale Moore opts out of the 2020 season: 6.5/10 Disaster Rating
While the ACC is losing many of its top defensive players, the Big Ten is losing its top wide receivers. Early last week, Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman made the decision to opt out, and he was joined by Moore, who made the decision late Friday evening.
Moore (5-9, 180), from New Albany, Indiana, was the first consensus true freshman to be named a First-Team All-American in Big Ten history. He had 114 catches in 2018 for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns while adding 662 yards on kickoff returns. Moore looked like he was headed toward similar numbers in 2019 and had already had a 220-yard receiving game against Vanderbilt in the second week of the season. Moore, however, suffered a knee injury in a loss to Minnesota, and missed the rest of the season. He did not appear in either of the official mock drafts on WalterFootball.com, and ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay had him rated as the No. 32-overall prospect.
At least six Maryland players opt out of the 2020 season: 4/10 Disaster Rating
The biggest name among the lot of Maryland players who have opted out is quarterback Josh Johnson. Maryland coach Mike Locksley explained to The Washington Post
reporter Emily Giambalvo that there were eligibility concerns expressed by the players. "Because the questions are what happens if a season starts and then we get shut down, do I lose my eligibility for that year? How many games is it? Do I retain my eligibility if I get quarantined and have to miss 14 days?" If the Big Ten attempts to push back the football season to the spring, these concerns might be alleviated.
Multiple North Carolina players opt out of the 2020 season: 5/10 Disaster Rating
Among those who have announced are defensive backs D.J. Ford and Javon Terry. Ford (6-3, 210), was a part-time starter for the Tar Heels last season. He had 54 tackles with an interception and a fumble recovery in 2019. He is going into his redshirt senior season, so there is a question of whether the NCAA will give him a medical redshirt and extend his eligibility, or he will have to make himself available for the 2021 NFL Draft. Terry was a projected starter this season after being a key reserve last season.
The Tar Heels secondary was among the deepest in the ACC. Tony Grimes, the No. 1-ranked cornerback in the 2021 recruiting class, has already signed with North Carolina and reclassified himself as a 2020 prospect, making him eligible to play this season.
Aug. 7 Update
DE Gregory Rousseau opts out of the 2020 season: 10/10 Disaster Rating
And the hits keep on coming. When Miami landed defensive end Quincy Roche as a graduate transfer from Templem there were visions of Roche and Gregory Rousseau terrorizing ACC quarterbacks to the tune of 25-30 sacks in 2020. Rousseau (6-7, 254), however, has made the decision not to play this season and focus on preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft. He is the best returning pass rusher in the nation and a likely top-10 pick. Walter Cherepinsky has Rousseau going at No. 7 overall in his most recent 2021 NFL Mock Draft
, while Charlie Campbell
has Rousseau going at No. 4 overall to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Rousseau is an interesting case for the 2021 NFL Draft. He played in a couple of games as a true freshman in 2018 before suffering a season-ending injury. As a redshirt freshman, he collected 15.5 sacks, which was good enough for second in the nation behind Chase Young. Rousseau was named ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and a First-Team All-ACC performer. He certainly would have solidified his draft status with a second productive season, but these are uncertain times.
Rousseau will need to be in shape and active at the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine to solidify his top-10 status for the 2021 NFL Draft. Manny Navarro of The Athletic reports that Rousseau's mother is an emergency room nurse and her front-line experiences dealing with the coronavirus pandemic had a great influence on Rousseau's decision. According to reports, Rousseau has already signed with agent Drew Rosenhaus.
Rousseau, a "four-star" prospect out of Hollywood, Florida, played wide receiver and safety in high school before growing into defensive end. He is a quick-twitch athletic freak and widely considered the best athlete in the 2021 NFL Draft regardless of position. The news isn't all bad for the Miami Hurricanes, who received a commitment from Leonard Taylor, the No. 2 defensive tackle in the 2021 recruiting class.
Aug. 6 Updates
Connecticut Football opts out of the 2020 season: 2/10 Disaster Rating
Connecticut finished up its run in the American Athletic Conference in 2019 and chose to go back to the Big East for its non-football sports and become an independent in football. There isn't much money in the independent game unless you're a national brand like Notre Dame, a U.S. military entity like Army, or the signature school for a major religion like BYU.
So, with the likelihood of playing an independent schedule in front of zero fans, Connecticut smartly decided to pack up and try again in 2021. If the Huskies were smarter, they'd do it without Randy Edsall as the head coach, but that's another story for another day. The impact from an NFL draft standpoint is next to nil. Only about 20 percent of the players taken in an NFL draft come from non-Power Five programs. Running back Kevin Mensah is probably the Huskies' most draftable prospect after he had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons as a sophomore and junior. Mensah's previous accomplishments should earn him an invite to the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine.
LB Micah Parsons opts out of the 2020 season: 10/10 Disaster Rating
Barring a change of heart at the last second, top linebacker Micah Parsons is expected to opt out of the 2020 season due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic and declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. Eric Edholm of Yahoo! Sports was the first to report the news late Tuesday night.
Parsons (6-3, 244) is expected to be a first-round pick and could possibly be the first defensive player taken off the board. Charlie Campbell's Mock Draft
has Parsons going eighth overall and Walter Cherepinsky's 2021 NFL Mock Draft
has Parsons going 22nd. Parsons is coming off of a breakout season in 2019 with 109 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and five sacks. He was a consensus First-Team All-American, the Big Ten's Linebacker of the Year and a finalist for the Butkus Award. Parsons' expected decision comes a day after Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman announced he would forego the 2020 season and prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft.
This is a major loss for Penn State and college football in general. Parsons is the best defensive player in the Big Ten and might be the best in the nation. His declaration confirms the thoughts that some of college football's top players would not risk their health for what could be an abbreviated season.
Parsons' absence will be a major hit to the Nittany Lions' chances at winning the Big Ten and possibly earning a berth in the college football playoffs. The Big Ten has had several programs stop voluntary workouts because of positive COVID-19 tests. The possibilities of a truncated season along with safety concerns were clearly enough for Parsons to punt on the season and concentrate on workouts that will prepare him for the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine. Now the question is will he be the biggest name to opt out or will more follow.
Aug. 4 Update
WR Rashod Bateman opts out of the 2020 season: 7.5/10 Disaster Rating
Bateman joins Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley as the second major college football draft prospect to opt out of the 2020 season because of health concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. This is a major loss for the Golden Gophers' offense in 2020 as they will now have to replace over 75% of their passing production from last season. Bateman was second on the team with 60 catches, 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns. He and Tyler Johnson, a fifth-round pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020, combined to be one of the most prolific wide receiver duos in the nation. They were a big part of Minnesota's ascension to an 11-2 record and a victory over Auburn in the Outback Bowl.
Bateman (6-2, 209), from Tifton, Georgia, was one of the first big recruits landed by P.J. Fleck in his early tenure. A "four-star" recruit in the class of 2018, Bateman went on to set a freshman receiving record at Minnesota with 51 receptions and 704 yards. As a sophomore, Bateman was a First-Team All-Big Ten performer and made All-American teams by Sports Illustrated, USA Today - Second Team - and the Associated Press - Third Team. Bateman had his biggest game of 2019 in a top-20 matchup against Penn State where he caught seven passes for 203 yards.
Bateman is considered one of the top draft-eligible receivers for the 2021 NFL Draft. He was not in the first round of either Charlie
most recent 2021 NFL Mock Drafts
, but he was ranked in the top 20 - 19th overall - by ESPN's Todd McShay in ESPN's preliminary draft rankings. Whether Bateman is a sure-fire first-round pick or not, he was clearly a player expected to be off the board within the first 50 picks, and now he will focus the next six months on preparing for the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine.
July 30 Update
Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley opts out of 2020 season: 8/10 Disaster Rating
Unless you are the head coach of Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State or another top program that can replace all-conference players with former high school All-Americans, you can't afford to lose a first-round talent for any reason. Farley (6-2, 207) is considered a potential first-round draft pick and is easily the best player on the Virginia Tech roster in 2020. He was an All-ACC first-team defensive back in 2019 a conference-leading 16 passes defended and four interceptions. Farley was highly regarded across the board and had a 90.3 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus.
From Maiden, N.C., Farley was ranked a three-star prospect across the ranking websites in the class of 2017. He tore his ACL as a freshman and took a redshirt season in 2017. The general scouting report on Farley is that he might be the best coverage cornerback in college football. He has excellent size and length to match up against the most physical of wide receivers. Farley's tackling improved from in his redshirt sophomore year, but it's still an area that needs a lot of improvement. Farley has ideal speed and was recorded running a 100-meter dash in the 10.65 range.
Farley is the first player to announce he's opting out of the 2020 college football season due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. He lost his mother, Robin, to breast cancer in 2018 and did not want to potentially jeopardize the health of another family member. He's going spend the next few months training and preparing for the NFL Combine. Farley promises to be one of the most watched players at the combine because of his potential as a first-round pick.
About a month ago, I talked with Walt and Charlie Campbell about the potential of projected top-100 draft picks opting out of the season. They both suggested that it's a bad idea, unless it's a player with a solidified resume like Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Farley will be taking a risk of losing draft status by not playing. Will he be alone in making this move? That remains to be seen. There is no doubt, however, that this is a tough loss for the Hokies this season.
Check out where Farley is being drafted in the updated 2021 NFL Mock Draft
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