Washington star defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike is opting out of the 2020 season and exposes a new strategy for college stars: Opting out of a season due to health concerns is the perfect way to maintain NFL Draft value.
Levi Onwuzurike was set to be the most valuable DT returning to college football in 2020. pic.twitter.com/zhAjZSM9Li— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 17, 2020
Of course there’s no way of telling if Onwuzurike truly fears the virus, which makes the COVID season such a dilemma. As Todd McShay’s #3 DT prospect, sitting out the season should keep him in the top five by 2021. No longer risking his health on the field or potentially playing himself down NFL boards.
Remember when agents told Jadeveon Clowney to sit out ahead of the 2014 NFL Draft? Imagine if he had half the country’s approval to be terrified of a virus. Even pondering the decision to sit was met with a tornado of dirt thrown on his name. His character was called into question and fans wondered if NFL teams would want a player willing to forgo playing for his personal value.
We saw this in college basketball when Zion Williamson ripped his shoe at Duke. Pressure of coming across to fans and front offices as selfish for caring too much about personal value brought him back to the court. That same off the court influence isn’t felt in the COVID era. Levi Onwuzurike has a “get out of jail free” card that skips him directly to the NFL draft.
Don’t hate the player, hate the game
If he is indeed exercising this loophole, we couldn’t possibly be upset about it. NFL Drafts reward high round draft picks more than any other sport. These athletes leave college football to an NFL life expectancy of just four years, so if anyone has to sacrifice a year of pride for generational wealth. So be it.