Will Muschamp: NFL trying to solve underclassmen problem


HOOVER, Ala. -- It can't be easy for Florida head coach Will Muschamp to look at his inexperienced secondary without wondering what might have been had two talented junior cornerbacks -- Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson -- not entered the NFL draft early, only to go undrafted.

They were two of several dozen underclassmen that were passed over in the 2014 NFL Draft before being signed as undrafted free agents. The NFL, Muschamp said, is seeking a solution to the underclassmen problem -- the growing number of early entries reached a record 98 players in 2014.

"It's an issue that I know is being addressed by the National Football League. They're trying to help. They don't want all these guys coming out early," Muschamp said Monday at SEC Media Days. "They don't want all these guys coming into camp and they're not ready. It's football. It's a developmental game. You've got to develop yourself to be ready for that league. And it's a hard league. I've been there. It's a marathon. It's a grown man's league, and a lot of guys coming out aren't ready for that."

Muschamp said he encourages his underclassmen that are likely first-round picks to leave school early, but believes others should stay in school and improve themselves before making the jump to the pro ranks. Without specifically mentioning Purifoy, who signed with the Indianapolis Colts, and Roberson, who signed with the St. Louis Rams, Muschamp hinted that wayward advice might have been a factor in their decisions.

"The frustrating part that I have is when you have a young man who has been in your program three years, you've coached him three years, you recruited him, and you're giving him advice and you've talked to NFL general managers that I know personally, NFL coaches that I know personally. You're telling them exactly where they are on the board, and instead of listening to you ... now, some of those young men aren't listening to people that have been part of their lives. They're listening to somebody on the street."

Freshman UF cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, who emerged as one of the top cornerbacks in the nation last season, took notice of his former teammates' draft-day plummet.

"It just kind of showed me that nothing's promised, nothing's guaranteed," he said. "I'm just going to keep working and hopefully one day I'll get drafted."

Purifoy and Roberson were both projected as potential 2014 first-round picks before last season began. However, neither had a strong junior season, and neither performed especially well at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. By that time, though, their decisions were made, and whatever advice Muschamp had for them months earlier was rendered moot.

*Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter **@ChaseGoodbread*.

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