University of Miami

Who’s entering NFL Draft early? UM’s Mark Richt says college degree is ‘undervalued’

Miami Hurricanes defensive tackles RJ McIntosh (80) and Kendrick Norton (7) celebrate after McIntosh recovers a fumble for a turnover in the second quarter as the University of Miami hosts Virginia Tech Hokies at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday, November 4, 2017.
Miami Hurricanes defensive tackles RJ McIntosh (80) and Kendrick Norton (7) celebrate after McIntosh recovers a fumble for a turnover in the second quarter as the University of Miami hosts Virginia Tech Hokies at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday, November 4, 2017. adiaz@miamiherald.com

It’s that time of year.

No, we’re not talking about bowl games or the College Football Playoff.

We’re talking about the players who are contemplating leaving early for the NFL.

Last year it was Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya, running back Joe Yearby and tight end David Njoku, with Njoku picked by Cleveland 29th overall in the first round.

Kaaya, who became a practice-squad player with the Detroit Lions, went in the sixth round to the Lions; and Yearby went undrafted.

During his radio interview with WQAM’s Joe Rose on Monday, University of Miami coach Mark Richt was asked if he would soon speak to underclassmen thinking about entering the NFL Draft.

Players contemplating turning pro are defensive tackle RJ McIntosh, who was named by UM the program’s defensive MVP on Saturday; and defensive tackle Kendrick Norton, who got the Kelly Utough Award for the defense. Cornerback Michael Jackson also is likely contemplating his options, while most believe junior safety Jaquan Johnson, UM’s Jack Harding Team MVP, will stay for his senior season.

Running back Mark Walton, who missed most of the season after ankle surgery, has already announced he will enter the draft.

“It will be in the near future,’’ Richt said of speaking to underclassmen. “This is the time of year you get a chance to talk to them. We’ve been so busy on the road recruiting it’s been hard to find the time. You send some information to the NFL and they give the guys a rough idea where they think they might be drafted so that’s used as a guide and a talking point as well.”

Don Slesnick, president and chair of the Orange Bowl Committee with Wisconsin's Paul Chryst and Miami's Mark Richt at the 2017 Capital One Orange Bowl Head Coaches press conference at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel on Wednesday, December 6, 2017.​

Richt said the program has “got quite a few people — scouts, general managers, people that have done it before,’’ that it turns to for guidance regarding the draft.

“We’ve got a gentleman that we hire that a lot of schools around the Southeast hire, actually around the country hire, to just help educate our young men and educate our families about how the draft works. You can’t necessarily go by what this publication said or that publication said. The reality is there probably will be 60 guys projected as first-round draft picks, and that will be just the offensive side of the ball. And then there will be another 60 on defense that are going to be projected first-rounders. So you’ve got 120 guys that somehow heard that they’re going to go in the first round and there are only 32 slots. You’ve just got to take everything with a grain of salt.”

The coach said he thinks “it’s a mistake’’ when players are satisfied with being on an NFL practice squad because they think it’s decent money (minimum of $7,200 a week during the season).

“The value of our education just for one year is a minimum of $70,000, and that’s not counting all the things that come along with it as far as traveling and training,’’ Richt told Joe Rose. “I think sometimes people just undervalue the degree itself. You might be going to school for three years and you’re three classes away from graduation or eight classes away from graduation or whatever it may be and you walk away from it. You’ve got the same thing that just some guy on the street has got. You’ve got nothing.

Miami Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt and wide receiver Braxton Berrios speak to the media about Berrios season and playing in the Orange Bowl after the University of Miami Hurricanes is defeated by the Clemson Tigers 38-3 in the ACC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. on Saturday, December 2, 2017.

“So getting your degree is so crucial. The statistics prove kids that go into the draft with their degree last longer in the NFL and they keep what they make longer and they tend to do well afterward, rather than just being on the fast track — I’m three-and-out, I’m living fast. And then they’re dying hard, too, financially and with everything else when it’s all over.”

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments