Every human being on this earth comes to a crossroads at some point in their life. For some it is easier than others. For a third-year college quarterback this may be a little bit harder of a situation to tussle with. On one hand you can go to the NFL and make millions, and on the other you can stay in school and reap all the rewards that brings. Star quarterback of the University of Oregon, Marcus Mariota, decided that he would return to Oregon next year to have another shot at improving his college career. Sometimes this choice proves to be the best option, but for others it can be disastrous.
First we will look at the option of returning to school for your fourth year and all its benefits and downfalls.
- One more year to develop
- One more shot at a National Championship
- One more shot at the Heisman
- One more year to show NFL teams you can be their guy
- One more year with your teammates and coaches
- One more year to enjoy the college life
The key word in that is the word one. One as in a single year, if you don’t get hurt. That one year can work wonders for a players draft status. If the player was highly regarded the year prior and then adds a National Championship, a Heisman, or an insane statistical season to their resume, NFL teams will be even more intrigued to select them higher. A higher selection also means a higher payday. Also, it’s never a bad thing to have another year of being a college kid before you are shipped out into the real world. The best part of returning for one more season is, if you’re a senior, you can finish your degree. Though there are plenty of negatives to staying as well.
- Team could have a losing season
- Slump year
- High Heisman expectations
- Chance to get in NCAA/legal trouble
- Loss of NFL team interest
How many times have we seen a player with first or second round potential, or even top -10 to top-15 potential, decide they will return for their senior year and then fall victim to a down year for the team or for themselves?
The two most recent examples that come to mind are former University of Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley and former Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Landry Jones. Both of these quarterbacks had first round draft pick potential for the 2012, but decided to stay for their final year and became a victim to poor team play and personal play.
Barkley was considered a potential top-10 pick for 2012 and more than likely would have been selected by the Miami Dolphins over Ryan Tannehill, or potentially sooner by the Cleveland Browns. His return to USC for his senior season lead to a year of disappointed play from the Trojans as a whole and in return had NFL scouts question Barkley’s ability with a year of up and down tape. In the 2013 draft Barkley was the 98th pick in the fourth round. That is a big difference between top-10 and top-100. In Jones’ case he had the potential to be selected late in the first round or early second round due to his big arm and even bigger build. Jones went from a top-40 pick to the 115th pick overall in the fourth round. Jones’ slide was also due to a down year, but it wasn’t as great of a slide as Barkley’s.
The cons seem to out value the pros if you are a player who has a possible high selection range. The value of the cons list seems to diminish pending on your potential draft status of your third year. If you are a player with a lower draft projection you are better off staying your senior year to take a shot at all of the luxuries that come with the pros list, but if you’re a player with a high projection the odds are against you if you chose to rerun.
What began the thought process on this article was the breaking news that Marcus Mariota would be returning to Oregon next year, and shortly after that announcement that Bryce Petty of Baylor would also be returning. Both are great examples of returning players. Lets examine the possibilities for Mariota and Petty.
Mariota is a interesting case because he will be returning for his junior year, not his senior year. This means Mariota could potentially return for his senior year as well. So if for some reason Mariota fails to achieve what he wants next year he will be able to come back for another year after that. Here are the pros for Mariota’s return.
- Two years of eligibility left
- Chance at the Heisman
- National Championship possibility
- Another year to develop more
- Chance to improve a great career and impress NFL scouts more
Mariota is probably the one player in the past few years that that has the best opportunity to return or declare. If he would have declared for the 2013 NFL Draft he would have been one of the top quarterbacks selected. Most draft “experts” had Mariota as their second or third best quarterback behind Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater. This should obviously be in the cons section of Mariota’s analysis, but with his athletic ability and the level of Oregon’s program Mariota probably won’t be too worried.
- Slump year/s
- High Heisman expectations
- NFL teams may find “their guy” this year (2014 draft)
Mariota’s biggest concern will be injury, especially as a mobile quarterback. Everyone has seen the knee injuries Robert Griffen III has gone through during his time with both Baylor and with the Washington Redskins. Obviously even with those injuries he has done very well for himself. Mariota’s next big challenge will be the Heisman hype that he will receive as soon as the 2014 NFL Draft has ended. He will be one of the major contenders right out of the gate, if not the biggest. The last bullet point is not really much of a concern because there are teams every year that are looking for quarterbacks, but if it’s not a quarterback needy year he may slide from top 3 to top 10. I’m sure he will not be too upset with that. The future looks bright for Mariota even though he has opted to return for another season.
Now lets look at Bryce Petty of Baylor. Art Briles makes the Baylor offense and Bryce petty look sexy on the field. My personal dream would be to see the two quarterbacks in this article face-off in a bowl game this year, or considering they are both returning next year works for me as well. Anyway, Bryce Petty has strung together a very impressive junior year, but not one that is impressive enough to make him anything more than a late second or early third round pick in 2014. So he said that he will be retuning for his senior season.
- One more shot at a Heisman
- Shot at a National Championship
- A year more of development
- Chance to impress NFL Scouts with another big year
- Art Briles
Petty is a player that could really benefit from returning his senior year. Another year of development with Art Briles could do wonders for Petty. We’re talking potential Heisman wonders. This will also give a high powered Baylor offense their leader back, which would give them a chance to make a National Title run. If Petty can put together a senior season as good as his junior year has gone he’ll be looked at as a first round guy in the 2015 draft.
- Senior slump
- Product of the system
- Loss of other team talent
- Disappoints NFL scouts
Petty is in your typical middle of the pack junior quarterback position, so he chose to take another year to try and improve his draft stock. The one thing Petty doesn’t need to worry about is getting his degree. He competed his degree this past may so he can take filler classes or complete a minor so he can remain eligible. Petty has all of the usual cons to his choice, but hopefully Briles can prevent these from occurring.
Will these quarterbacks have an RG3 like senior/junior year and boost themselves in the draft, or will they fall flat in an attempt to raise their draft stock? Stay tuned for the 2014 college football season to find out.
About the Author: Zachary Cintron
Zachary Cintron is a sports blogger who has spent the past two years covering the National Football League (NFL), NCAA football, NCAA lacrosse, and Major League Lacrosse (MLL) for Sports Unbiased and The Sports Complex (Drexel University’s Sport Management Blog). Zach is expected to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sport management from Drexel in June of 2016. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.