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Officially Declared Underclassmen

By: Roshan Bhagat | 1/16

Branden Albert, OG, Virginia. A 6’7, 310 pound guard who was named 1st team All-ACC this season. He told the Roanoke Times that he would file the necessary paperwork to make himself eligible for April’s Selection. He has good feet for a man his size and is projected to leave the board by the 3rd round. “I feel, towards the end, that I got a lot more attention as a player, but I understand that comes with winning,” he said. “I have no complaints with the University of Virginia. I got everything out of my career that I could have wanted.” (announced: 01/02)

Adrian Arrington, WR, Michigan. Rich Rodriguez told the media that he received a text message from Arrington saying that he would not be back to Michigan. Arrington is a possession receiver who had a great bowl game which we can guess impacted his final decision. He made several acrobatic catches and was dominant all game. In a class filled with talent up and down, expect Arrington to be a mid-round prospect with an average Combine. (announced: 01/09)

James Banks, WR, Carson-Newman. The former high school All-American plans to declare for the draft after reeling in 22 passes for 370 yards and 6 touchdowns. While the numbers may not be wowing, he was the focal point of opposing defenses and was blanketed by two men up and down the field. He started at Tennessee but was released after a season of academic ineligibility and disciplinary infractions. Now 24, he has requested evaluation from the NFL Advisory Committee and has already entered his name in the draft. (announced: 12/28)

Earl Bennett, WR, Vanderbilt. He’ll time well, but he does all of the little things that make a receiver good. Runs good routes, catches well, makes catches in the middle of the field, and can return kicks and punts. Fits in with the crowd of a deep receiver class and could go anywhere from mid-1st to 2nd round. Bennett announced Thursday that he would be leaving for the NFL. (announced: 01/10)

Martellus Bennett, TE, Texas A&M At 6’6, 260, he has great size and athleticism to start in the NFL. He’s a great receiver but his blocking leaves something to be desired. With Mike Sherman coming to Texas A&M, Bennett has decided to leave early ensure that his role in the offense doesn’t diminish. With a 1st round projection from the Advisory Committee, there’s no sense in learning a new offense when his stock has very little to go but down. (announced: 01/05)

Davone Bess, WR, Hawaii. After catching 108 passes for 1266 yards and 12 touchdowns, Davone Bess has decided to pass up his senior season and enter the draft with quarterback Colt Brennan. Runs great routes with tremendous hands and good quickness in and out of cuts. Is great with run after the catch and with all of these things going for him, he’ll likely reach his projected 2nd round. (announced: 01/04)

Calais Campbell, DE, Miami (FL). A defensive end that had high expectations coming into the season. With his combination of size and speed, he is part of the new breed of defensive ends such as Julius Peppers and Mario Williams. However he and the Hurricanes failed to live up their billing. Campbell knows he didn’t play well this year, but is still deciding to leave early. With his skill set, he’s still almost a lock to go in the first round. (announced: 01/03)

Jamaal Charles, RB, Texas. After a 1600, 18 touchdown season, no one can blame you for leaving early. What Charles did down the stretch was nothing short of remarkable. He broke 160 in 4 of his last 5 games. He paved way for a Longhorns victory of the Sun Devils in the Holiday Bowl with 161 yards and 2 touchdowns. Charles will likely compete with Chris Johnson (East Carolina) for the fastest 40 at the Combine. He has good size and can get outside in the blink of an eye. A true game changer who will definitely be drafted in one of the first two rounds. (announced: 01/02)

Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State. His stock has been on the rise and appears to be a top 20 pick at this point. Has good size, but importantly quick feet and good athleticism. While he could have been an even better pick with another year of work, he’ll make great money, with plenty of teams in the market for an athletic left tackle. He’s signed with JL Sports, a sports management company, therefore making a return to Boise State impossible. It’s official Clady is in and he’s adding to an already deep crop of tackles. (announced: 01/01)

Anthony Collins, OT, Kansas. First team All-American Anthony Collins is following in Talib’s footsteps and leaving early. The two said prior to the bowl game that they’d make their decisions together. A day after Talib made his announcement, Collins made his. He feels he’s proven everything he can at the collegiate level and is ready to move onto the NFL. He is expecting to be a first or second round selection. (announced: 01/07)

Johnny Dingle, DE, West Virginia. The NFL has been a lifelong dream for Dingle. After the Pitt loss, he said his mind was made up. At 6’3, 275 he has NFL size and had NFL production this season with 46 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and 8 sacks. He has a good burst off the edge and has proven to be a reliable pass rusher. He’s improved on his run game and is a decent 4th round prospect or so. (announced: 12/21)

Franklin Dunbar, OT, Middle Tennessee State. Coach Rick Stockstill said he has decided to enter early because his family is having financial problems. He has a good range and frame (6’5, 320) and was named 1st team All-Sun Belt for the 2nd year in a row. Arguably the best player on his team. Has NFL size and strength, but will need to work on technique. Nothing more than a mid-late day two pick. (announced 12/18)

Jermichael Finley, TE, Texas. An athletic tight end that can get up and down the field in a flash. Runs good routes and has great hands. His blocking leaves a lot to be desired. Finley is just the latest to add to one of the deepest tight end classes in history. Finley, a third year sophomore will forgo his final two years of eligibility. While he could have remained in college and developed into a sure-fire 1st round pick, he’ll enter early and bring his game to the next level. (announced: 01/07)

Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech. After a great season amassing 80 tackles as a corner, Flowers is leaving for the draft. His physical nature on the outside and strength in the run game, make him very valuable in the NFL. With a great Combine he could sneak into the 1st round, without that he’ll likely fall to the 2nd round. Prediction: Returns 65/35. (announced: 01/06)

Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State. He has terrorized quarterbacks on a weekly basis. Combined with great size, strength, athleticism, and experience standing up, he will surely be the top 3-4 rush linebacker selected. In the 4-3, another great pass rushing end. He received a 2nd round projection from the Draft Advisory Committee, but with his Combine, he’ll surely rise to the first half of the first round. (announced: 01/11)

Letroy Guion, DT, Florida State. It’s been rumored for a couple days, but it’s official now that Guion will forgo his final season of eligibility to enter the draft. He’s been overshadowed by Andre Fluellen and is better fitted for the Under Tackle position. The 6’4, 295 pound tackle was one of the many Florida State players who didn’t make the trip up to the Bowl game. (announced: 01/11)

James Hardy, WR, Indiana. A massive receiver with big play NFL potential. At 6’7, he can get up and down the field pretty well and can get up with all of the corners to win jump balls. Doesn’t get too much separation coming in and out of cuts, but he has the potential to be a great playmaker in the league. Hardy said that he “reached the pinnacle of my college football career.” With a good Combine he’ll reach the first round. (announced: 01/04)

Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida. A rangy, athletic end. Coach Meyer has been ecstatic about his improvement from the past two years, especially considering the loss of Jarvis Moss on the opposite side. An elite pass rusher with tremendous upside. Has learned to work with double teams this season as the defense’s focal point. Doesn’t play with great strength against the run which may drop him to the mid-latter portion of the 1st round. (announced: 01/03)

Geno Hayes, LB, Florida State. It’s pretty much official that Geno Hayes will enter the draft. The last day to re-enroll for classes is Thursday at midnight and it appears as if he’ll forgo his final season of eligibility. His tenure at Florida State hasn’t been as successful as it could have been individually and as a team. In a talented class, many will question his decision. Now it’s just about official. (announced: 01/09)

Erin Henderson, OLB, Maryland. An athletic linebacker who will run sideline-to-sideline with any ball carrier. Drops everything he hits with sound technique. Understands coverage and can get back fluidly. Has decided to cut his career at Maryland a year short while his stock is as high as the late 1st. Even though he’ll have a difficult time passing up another year of memories with friends and the community at Maryland, he’ll be gaining a year of experience in the NFL, something far too valuable to pass up. (announced: 01/02)

Jack Ikegwuonu, CB, Wisconsin. Was this a smart move? We won’t for sure until April, but most fans believe he would have been better served by staying another year. He is fairly raw, but looks like he has a game that will transition well to the NFL. He has good size (6’1, 202 pounds) and has been timed less than 4.4. He has instincts and ball skills that simply can’t be taught, but has a way to go to become a polished player. Not too bad a decision in my opinion considering upside even though this is a talented top-heavy year for corners. (announced: 01/07)

DeSean Jackson, WR, California. While numbers say he has struggled, the numbers he’ll put at the Combine still leave Golden Bear fans anxious. A national title meant a lot to him but this season was his chance and the team’s chance to shine. Neither did and yet he still has a first round grade. DeSean Jackson has declared for the draft and will likely be an early-mid first round selection. (announced: 01/15)

Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas. Running behind McFadden, he still compiled 1000 yards on the ground. A fast, shifty runner with adequate NFL Size. Should McFadden leave early, he could make more money by deciding to stay. Either way, he’s got a shot at the first round this year and you never know what a new coaching staff will bring. On Coach Bobby Petrino Felix Jones said, “We’ll have to wait ‘till next season starts and go from there.” When asked whether that was any indication as to where he’ll be, he responded, “Could be.” Jones recently reported to the Associated Press, "Don't know what to do yet, and that's why I'm going to (take) this weekend, and I'm going to let you know Monday.” Decision day has passed and Jones will join McFadden in leaving a year early. (announced: 01/14)

Aaron Kelly, WR, Clemson. While Phillip Merling ponders his decision, wide receiver Aaron Kelly is set to enter the draft. He’s a lanky pass catcher (6’5, 190) who had 1081 yards and 11 touchdowns on 88 receptions. (announced: 01/08)

Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma. Early in the year, he was considered the top receiver. However he’s shown periods of inconsistency in-game and game-to-game. He won’t wow clocks in his 40, but he has good size and good hands. Sources say he’ll declare if he gets the 1st round grade he expects. He received a 2nd round grade from the Advisory Committee which make his decision all the more difficult. After sitting down with his family, he has decided to leave early, something Coach Bob Stoops confirmed. (announced: 01/10)

Justin King, CB, Penn State. He has everything it takes to make it in the NFL…great size, great speed, good athletic ability. He’s been inconsistent from a game-to-game basis. He has filed for his evaluation but is “50-50” about returning. In the press conference following the team’s bowl game, he said, “I'm not going to show you my hand.” The cards have been dealt and the end result determined. King will be entering the draft after a good career for the Nitany Lions. (announced: 01/13)

Xavier Lee, QB, Florida State. A superior talent in high school who struggled to beat out Drew Weatherford for the starting position at Florida State. When Jimbo Fisher told Lee that he might be transitioned to tight end, he decided enough was enough and decided to bolt from the program. Lee has outstanding mobility and a great arm, but it will take a lot of coaching to make him an NFL quarterback. With his talents, he could switch to a different position in the NFL, but he’ll have to work on it. A better decision would have been to transfer to a smaller program. (announced: 01/13)

Curtis Lofton, LB, Oklahoma. It can be argued that Lofton was the team’s most valuable player and his 142 tackles would be just about enough proof. He has filed his paperwork to the Draft Advisory Council and if it doesn’t come back projecting him as a top 15 pick, Lofton in all likeliness will remain with the Sooners for another season. Lofton has decided that he will join Malcolm Kelly in leaving a year early. Lofton tackles everything in sight and makes plays when it matter most. Look for him to be one of the first inside linebackers taken without Maualuga and Laurinaitis. (announced: 01/14)

Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee. Looks like a better fit for weakside linebacker than in the middle, but has experience playing both. He’s very talented with good size and range. Drops well into coverage and has good instincts and explosive playmaking ability. Jerod Mayo was projected as a late 2nd-early 3rd round selection by the NFL Advisory Committee, but has decided to turn pro rather than stay another year in school to improve upon his stock. (announced: 01/07)

Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan. The heart and soul, Hart and Henne, are leaving so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the same from Manningham. He has a decent year and will likely grade out as a second rounder. Coach Rodriguez said he missed the team’s first meeting and isn’t expecting Manningham back for next season. After more than a week of speculation, Manningham has finally spoken out and announced he will forgo his final season of eligibility. Mario is one of the best deep threats in the draft for a class of many possession receivers. (announced: 01/14)

Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas. The only thing he hasn’t accomplished in college is the Heisman trophy. With his insane running skills, the rest of the class falls far short in comparison. He brings a great dose of speed, size, elusiveness to the table. He’s done it all for the Razorbacks including many touchdown passes leading many to compare him to the great LaDainian Tomlinson. (announced: 01/11)

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois Though the program is on the rise and is overshadowed by a couple other names, his stock is very high right now. He has a good blend of speed and power and his brother is waiting to take over when he leaves. He decided towards taking the money now to help out his family. Illinois made a BCS Bowl and after a successful season, Mendenhall will declare as one of the best backs in the draft. The Combine will let him surpass any back not named Darren McFadden, should he declare. (announced: 01/05)

Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson. Clemson’s leader in both tackles for loss (17) and sacks (7). With the departure of Gaines Adams, Merling came on strong for Clemson with his defense against the run and the ability to get after the passer. Looks like a solid mid-2nd round prospect for now with ability to climb up with a good Combine. (announced: 01/10)

Lamar Myles, LB, Louisville. The 6’1, 220 pound linebacker took over as the starter at middle linebacker this season. He’s an undersized, ferocious hitter who finished the season with 128 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries. On a defense that was pathetic throughout, Myles was one of the few bright spots. “The coaching staff helped me improve as a player and I look forward to competing in the NFL,” Myles said Friday. (announced: 01/11)

DaJuan Morgan, S, N.C. State. Free safety DaJuan Morgan has decided to forgo his final season of eligibility and has signed with Ben Dogra (agent of Mario Williams) which ends the possibility of returning to school next year. He led the team with 117 tackles and 13 passes broken up. Contemplating the decision, his heart told him to go pro which was his final decision. (announced: 01/09)

Ryan Grice-Mullen, WR, Hawaii. Soon after Coach June Jones signed with SMU, Grice-Mullen has decided his days at Hawaii are finished as well. I believe it was a smart decision with a new system, new coach, and new quarterback returning to the offense. He’s another small, YAC kind of guy who could be productive in the West Coast Offense. He’s signed with an agent making his comeback Hawaii’s gridiron impossible. (announced: 01/08)

Kenny Phillips, S, Miami (FL). It’s just about official. Kenny Phillips earlier this week informed Randy Shannon that he will be leaving early to enter the draft. In a weak safety class, his stock is very high right now, even though he had room for improvement. A lock for a 1st round pick and the first safety off the board. (announced: 12/6)

Chilo Rachal, OG, USC. Forth year junior guard who has started for the past two seasons at right guard has declared himself eligible for the NFL draft. Rachal was voted All-Pac 10 by league coaches this season despite missing three games due to a knee injury. The 6’5, 315 pound Rachal boosts a guard class that’s very weak this year. (announced: 01/11)

Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers. He’s been worked and worked again. Coach Schiano has built such a tight-knit team and Rice knows he’s the face of it. Scouts won’t take well to another season of 350+ carries. Should he leave now, he’s a 2nd/3rd rounder, but the money would certainly help his family. He’s a humble kid who will be a great fit on any team. After setting a Rutgers school record of 280 yards, he and his family have decided it would be in his best interest to leave early. (announced: 01/08)

Orlando Scandrick, CB, Boise State Scandrick had a decent season with 50 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 4 blocked kicks. The 5’11, 196 pounds cornerback received a 4th round projection from the NFL Advisory Committee. He said, “It was a tough decision. I felt I was ready to accept a greater challenge.” He signed with an agent so there’s no turning back now. (announced: 01/04)

Steve Slaton, RB, West Virginia. He had a down season, but his stock should rise with an outstanding Combine. He won’t be an every down back and in a deep class, he could go anywhere from the first round all the way down to day two. (announced: 01/13)

Kevin Smith, RB, Central Florida. In a sudden change of heart, Kevin Smith has decided to turn pro to be the latest of running backs to enter with 1st round potential. He has great change of direction and cutting ability in tight spaces, which is where he makes his money. He said “I sat down with my mom after the Liberty Bowl game and we decided it was the best thing to do.” After 2567 yards and 29 touchdowns, it’s hard to criticize Smith for leaving early. (announced: 01/06)

Reggie Smith, CB/S, Oklahoma. Mr. Versatile. Smith can play anywhere in the secondary as well as returns kicks and punts. He has great size for a man in the secondary. Injured in the Big 12 Championship Game (broken toe on right foot), he is also penciled to miss the team’s big bowl game as well. With these late season injuries, it may force him to return for 2008. With his size and ability to play safety, Smith is projected as a first rounder and will leave a year early. (announced: 01/15)

Taj Smith, WR, Syracuse. The 6’1, 188 pound JUCO transfer reeled in 44 passes for 822 yards and 5 touchdowns. He passed up his 5th and final season of eligibility and has made it official. He’s been rumored to run low 4.4’s. He could be a guy who creeps up draft boards through the offseason workouts. (announced: 01/03)

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon. He’s had his difficulties since Dennis Dixon left. Has also had a problem with a sore heel. With a month to rest before his bowl game, he came back strong with a season high 253 yards on 23 carries to put an end to a short but powerful career. Stewart’s built as compact as they come and is like a bowling bowl ball going through the lanes. Stewart is a power runner with excellent speed, a lethal combination. Without Dennis Dixon next season and as a guaranteed first round pick, there’s no need risk an injury or a less than stellar season. No brainer. (announced: 01/11)

Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas. According to Aqib Talib’s brother, the Kansas star cornerback has decided to forgo his final year of eligibility to move onto the NFL. He’s one of the draft’s premiere man-to-man corners who has been pretty consistent aside from a poor day against Kansas State wideout Jordy Nelson. He capped off a remarkable season with an outstanding Orange Bowl which was the deciding factor. (announced: 01/06)

Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State. He’s a JUCO transfer yielding great success this season. With 1200+ yards and good speed to match his 6’2, 218 pound frame, he could be a potential first round pick. He plays physical and can get up and down the field. With plenty of receivers that seems to be second wideouts at the next level, Thomas is an unheralded player who should climb up boards through workouts. (announced: 01/04)

Mario Urrutia, WR, Louisville. The 6’6, 220 pound junior has decided to skip out on his senior season citing injuries and a finite career as his reason. “Unfortunately, with missing time this season and playing injured I got to see football from a different perspective. You only have so much time to play this sport, and the 2008 draft is my opportunity,” Urrutia said. Seems slow-ish and misses too many easy catches. Most likely a day two guy; someone I can see slipping beyond his “media stock”. (announced: 12/14)

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