As hard as it may be for college football coaches to convince their not-yet-ready underclassmen who have NFL potential to stay in school, LSU coach Les Miles may have the easiest time of all this year.
That's because among the 10 LSU underclassmen who were eligible for last year's draft, more than a few probably would have been better off playing another year on the Bayou. Shreveporttimes.com took a hard look at what has become of their football careers, giving Miles the ultimate cautionary tale for the lengthy cast of Tigers considering an early jump this year. Three went undrafted, and a couple of others were drafted late and have seen little to no action as NFL rookies.
"I think our guys are going to be confronted with similar situations, similar decisions, and I think that there's a likelihood that there will be a greater reception toward staying and being a part than leaving," Miles said.
Even one of the higher picks of the group, defensive end Sam Montgomery, a third-round pick of the Houston Texans, was cut midseason for disciplinary reasons. He was picked up by the Oakland Raiders but then promptly placed on injured reserve, leaving his NFL career in doubt less than a year after it began.
Among the LSU underclassmen considering early departure this year are wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry; defensive tackles Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson; running backs Jeremy Hill, Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue; and offensive tackle La'El Collins.
"I think it's a quality academic and a quality business decision," Miles added. "So some guys are going to go because it makes great sense. Some guys are not, and that makes great sense, too."
The NFL deadline for early entry declarations is Jan. 15. Johnson, for one, sounds much like an underclassman whose mind is all but made up.
"LSU is a fun place to play, and a lot of people look at it like that," he said. "I should tell you I look at it like that, but at the end of the day when that opportunity is given to you, you never know what could happen. If you do come back, you might have a season- or career-ending injury and might not be able to play football again."
For any who are on the fence about the decision, Miles has no shortage of examples to help him extol the benefits of staying.