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Report: ‘Several’ college football stars set to opt-out, declare for 2021 NFL Draft

Matt Johnson
New York Jets quarterback Justin Fields?
Dec 7, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields (1) reacts against the Wisconsin Badgers during the first half in the 2019 Big Ten Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

As more Power 5 conferences and FBS teams announce they won’t play football this fall, college football stars are taking their own steps to ensure their futures.

As a result, many of the sports best players could soon announce they are opting out and declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft.

Top college football players preparing to opt-out, declare for 2021 NFL Draft

The Big Ten, Pac 12 and Mountain West Conference are among the conferences that have officially suspended fall sports due to concerns about the coronavirus. While there is some hope they could play in the spring, college football stars are already preparing to move on.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, more college football stars are expected to announce in the coming days that they will opt-out of the upcoming season and will declare for the 2021 NFL Draft.

Even before conferences began shutting down fall sports, many expected a wave of players to skip the upcoming season. Agents reportedly started reaching out to draft-eligible players and there was strong belief many of the country’s top stars would sit out to prepare for the NFL.

While taking a year off from football might hurt some prospects, the decision to focus on preparing for the NFL Scouting Combine made sense for top prospects. Unsurprisingly, we’ve already seen several prominent names declare for the 2021 NFL Draft.

What college football players are opting out?

While a few players chose to sit out the season due to health concerns, Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley was the first star to opt-out and declared for the NFL Draft.

Farley, whose mother passed away due to an illness in 2018, is one of the top defensive backs in the country. After declaring, he is projected to be a top-20 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Shortly after Farley’s announcement. Minnesota Golden Gophers receiver Rashod Bateman revealed he is now preparing for the NFL. He enjoyed a breakout season in Minnesota’s offense, emerging as a huge playmaker with 1,219 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. If Bateman impresses at next year’s combine, he could be a first-round pick.

Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons is the best draft-eligible player to opt-out. A supreme athlete with great instincts and range, Parsons is projected to be a top-10 pick next year.

Miami Hurricanes edge rusher Gregory Rousseau, a top pick in our 2021 NFL mock draft, also is sitting out this year to train for the NFL.

The SEC, ACC and Big 12 have each committed to still playing football this fall. While it could be an opportunity for some players to improve their draft stock, if a season is played, top teams in each conference could still see players sit out to prepare for the NFL.