College football players skipping their bowl games has been a trend over the last few years to better prepare themselves for the NFL draft or for the reason of just avoiding an injury.
Ahead of Pitt playing Eastern Michigan in the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 26, Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi traveled up to Detroit and held a press conference on Wednesday morning. Narduzzi talked about a variety of topics regarding his team’s regular season team’s season and their final game at Ford Field.
Narduzzi was asked whether any of his players would skip the bowl game in order to be in a better position come draft time.
“I don’t have to ask that question (to my players),” Narduzzi said. “I know they’re going to play for each other.”
Pitt doesn’t have that one clear cut first-round guy that is going to jeopardize losing a ton of guaranteed money by playing in another college football game. But football is a game that you can’t take for granted, but you surely don’t want to jeopardize your dream of making it to the next level with an injury.
While Narduzzi said that none of his players have hinted to him that they would forego playing in the game, he added on Wednesday that, “you never know.”
“You’re only guaranteed 12 games in college football,” Narduzzi said Sunday after finding out where his team would be heading for their bowl game. “So, the opportunity to play one more time in 2019 is something our team is not going to take for granted.”
Pitt safety Paris Ford and defensive end Patrick Jones II have already spoken out about exploring their 2020 NFL draft options. Besides Ford and Jones II, guys such as Jaylen Twyman and Jimmy Morrissey are really the only other two underclassmen with real NFL possibilities at this point in their careers.
“We have never had that problem in the past (of skipping the bowl game) and I don’t expect to have it this year,” Narduzzi said.
Graduating seniors Maurice Ffrench, Damar Hamlin, Dane Jackson and Kylan Johnson are also in line for NFL consideration.