Saturday, January 5, 2008

Should Charles have Opted for the NFL?

Texas running back Jamaal Charles

Jamaal Charles is leaving the University of Texas early for greener pastures of the NFL. He has received word that his stock is trading “good” among NFL scouts and wants to get paid for gridiron action.

The junior running back and track star racked up 1,619 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. Charles joined Ricky Williams, Cedric Benson and Earl Campbell as the only Longhorns to rush for over 1,500 yards in a single season.

Charles was just as fast on the track as on the gridiron. The four-time All-American blazed 10.23 seconds in the 100 meters and placed fifth in the NCAA Championships. Jamaal won the Texas 5A state championships in the 110m hurdles and 300m hurdles as a senior in high school.

This year’s draft is loaded with running back talent. Darren McFadden of Arkansas, and Steve Slaton of West Virginia have also declared for the NFL.

Darren McFadden is a lock for one of the top couple picks, but the rest of the group - though accomplished - probably won't test out as well as Jamaal.

On-field collegiate accomplishments help you so much with NFL scouts, however. Professional football scouting is mostly a matter of subjective observation combined with raw numbers testing. How high can you jump? How fast can you run 10, 40, 100 yards? Can you deadlift a Toyota Tercel?

As well as Charles played this season, there's a real chance that his stock is at its all-time high. Whether to return or not is primarily a business decision. When you factor in the risk of injury, leaving now is easily justifiable, if not flat out the right thing to do.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

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