Underclassmen eye NFL Draft

Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III announces last week he will skip his senior year at Baylor and enter the NFL Draft. He is one of a record number of underclassmen making themselves available for the draft. (The Associated Press)

Published: Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 2:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 2:10 p.m.

In a year where a record number of underclassmen have declared for the NFL Draft, there are no Florida Gators on the list. This is the first time since 2004 that no Gators have come out early.

The first player in school history to declare for the draft early was running back Emmitt Smith in 1990. Since then, there have been 37 UF underclassmen who have put their name in the draft pool.

A record number of 65 underclassmen have been declared eligible for this year's draft, led by Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, runner-up Andrew Luck and three players from Alabama's national championship team..

The league Thursday released the list that includes Baylor quarterback Griffin, Stanford quarterback Luck and Crimson Tide running back Trent Richardson, linebacker Dont'a Hightower and defensive back Dre Kirkpatrick.

Despite a rookie wage scale established in the new collective bargaining agreement, the number of players choosing to leave school early tops the previous record of 56 set last year.

Others who are draft eligible include Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, LSU defensive back Morris Claiborne and Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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