With many of the FBS teams finishing up their seasons last weekend, the march to the NFL draft in April is taking a turn onto a new road -- the early pathway to the pros.
Each year there are dozens of underclassmen who petition the NFL Advisory Committee for the grades that will help them determine whether they should leave school early for a chance at NFL riches or return to school for another year.
Generally speaking, most underclassmen wait until after the bowl games to make these requests.
Bowl bans for USC and Miami, however, mean that their underclassmen could be all the more vulnerable to the pressures placed by family, friends and prospective agents. While players all over the country are busy preparing for their final game or anxiously waiting to hear what bowl their team has been invited to play in, the likes of Matt Barkley, Matt Kalil and Lamar Miller (among others) may get convinced that the extra time could give them an advantage in preparation time for the Combine and other workouts.
Typically, once a few prospects begin to declare themselves eligible for the NFL draft, the floodgates open. Usually some of the first names to make it official are players who announce their thoughts immediately following a bowl game.
This year, some of the biggest names potentially available in 2012 could have made their intentions known long before the first bowl game kicks off.