The papers went into the trash and the advice got ignored.
When former Texas Longhorns linebacker Malik Jefferson received a grade of return to school from the College Advisory Committee as he pondered where to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft, he chose to ignore the recommendation and become a professional instead.
In an interview with The Athletic, Jefferson explained the thinking behind his decision.
“I threw the papers away,” Jefferson said. “It’s not really good feedback. If a guy wants to come out early, they have to make a decision on their own. Really, if you’re not like a top-10 guy coming out early, it’s just up in the air from there. You just don’t know. Anything can happen.”
The advice turned out to technically be correct — Jefferson was selected in the third round by the Cincinnati Bengals with the 78th overall selection. So Jefferson’s choice, perhaps a bit of a gamble in the perceptions of some, also paid off for him professionally.
And that professional payoff was a part of Jefferson’s decision-making process, as last season’s Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year cited the exploitative economics of the college football model and his desire to focus exclusively on football in order to maximize his significant potential.
The demands of school work and limited time with the coaching staff in college are drawbacks for players like Jefferson who decide they want to improve as quickly as possible and get paid for it.
Given that the College Advisory Committee fails to provide players with information nuanced enough to actually help since it is so hard to predict how the draft process will unfold, it’s not surprising that so many decide to simply bet on themselves. And get that money for the first time.