Breaking News: Michael Crabtree has declared his intention to enter the 2009 NFL Draft. Follow the link to view the current list of underclassmen entering the 2009 NFL draft.
While researching the story I just posted about Marion Barber’s injury status (which includes incredible video of a pregame speech given by Tashard Choice during his Georgia Tech days), I came across another article from the Dallas Morning News that I found to be interesting.
According to the Morning News, Texas Tech sophomore Michael Crabtree told RedRaiderSports.com that he is “not at all” considering declaring for the NFL Draft and plans to stay at Texas Tech for another season. The Morning News article quotes Michael Crabtree’s father, however, as saying that the star wide receiver has not yet made a decision concerning his NFL future.
“He hasn’t told me that,” the elder Crabtree said. “We’re pretty much leaning toward coming out. But it’s up to him. If he wants to come back and win championships, I won’t be mad at him.”
As a college football fan, I love to see great players stay in school for as long as possible. So there is a part of me that would love to see Michael Crabtree stay in school. (And remember, even though he is only a sophomore, he did redshirt his first season. So he will be three years removed from his senior year in high school and thus eligible for the draft.)
But let me make this perfectly clear: There is NO WAY that Michael Crabtree will be returning to Texas Tech next year, no matter what he says now. Despite this reality, however, if he felt that he had to make a statement one way or the other, I do applaud Crabtree for saying he will come back to school. As Texas Tech prepares for its bowl game and the final game of its most successful season in school history, he should be excited and caught up in the moment and saying he will stay.
Why is there NO WAY that Michael Crabtree will stay for another season? Let me count the reasons:
- With the NFL labor situation up in the year, and the threat of a rookie salary cap looming, there will be a mad rush of underclassmen declaring this season to try to get a rookie contract under the current system. This is especially true for players who are projected to be first round picks. Michael Crabtree would most likely be a top-10 pick if he declares. It makes too much financial sense for him not to do so. The current market situation for rookie contracts is known. There is a great unknown past next year. Why risk it?
- His quarterback is leaving. Graham Harrell is a senior this year and there is no proven starter behind him. How could Crabtree’s production not take a dip with a new QB replacing perhaps the best passer in school history, no matter how talented Crabtree is? I can’t imagine Michael Crabtree wanting to live through the growing pains of a new QB.
- His coach may not be back. While I do expect Mike Leach to end up returning to Texas Tech, his name has been bandied about for every open job this year besides President of the United States. It does not look like he will be going Washington, but Auburn is now reportedly interested. I think Texas Tech will ante up a new contract and keep Leach, and this situation should be resolved by the time Michael Crabtree makes his decision; but in the immediate moment, it remains unclear. And if Leach does somehow leave, would Michael Crabtree really want to play for another coach who is not such an oracle of the spread offense?
- Potential for injury. Did anyone see Michael Crabtree’s ankle turn in the Oklahoma game? I thought it looked the worse than the actual injury turned out to be. Just let Crabtree watch this video of Ball State wide receiver Dante Love getting injured and changing his football future in one random play, and I think the decision will be made right there.
Selfishly, I think it would be great to see Michael Crabtree in school for another year. But I think he would be a fool to come back. Add up the potential for a rookie cap, the ubiquitous chance for injury on every play, and the loss of his QB, and I think Michael Crabtree will ultimately end up feeling the same way — no matter what he says right now.