Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley says he will opt out of the 2020 college football season, which is in peril due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Farley announced his decision on Wednesday in a video posted to his Instagram account, citing uncertain health conditions. His mother, Robin, passed away in 2018 after a long battle with breast cancer.
"I cannot afford to lose another parent or loved one," he said. "Though the competitor in me badly wants to play this season, I cannot ignore what's going on in my heart and I must make the decision that brings me the most peace."
He could be the first of many to opt out, as agents and NFL scouts alike have been expecting draft prospects to pass on playing another season at the college level, given the threat of coronavirus and the many challenges it presents for a college football season that has already seen major conferences cancel non-conference games.
Farley was a first-team All-ACC selection in 2019, and led the league in passes defensed (16), including four interceptions, despite missing two games due to injury. He was to be a fourth-year junior this fall, and NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter is high on his prospects for the next level.
"He's got the size and length to match up outside versus bigger NFL receivers, plus the hands to create turnovers," Reuter said. "He's shown the awareness in zone to find and close on the ball."
Although NCAA games are scheduled to begin as early Aug. 29, conference commissioners continue to weigh options that include postponement or more cancellations. The Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC have issued statements allowing players who opt out of the season to maintain their scholarships and good standing with their teams.