Before the season kicked off, few would argue UCLA’s Myles Jack was one of the top linebacker prospects that could be available in the 2016 NFL Draft if he decides to declare early. That will still be the case even after Jack made his decision a bit earlier than anyone could have guessed.
The decision came this week, but keep in mind Jack had suffered a season-ending injury (torn meniscus). Jack’s season was already over beyond his own control and there was a very good chance Jack was going to leave for the NFL at the end of the season anyway. At this point in time, Jack’s first and most important concern is his own future. Withdrawing from school to allow the time to focus on the process now with his undivided attention is what he clearly feels is in his best judgment.
Jack has been ranked as the fifth-best linebacker and is a projected first-round draft pick. Based on that, his decision to turn pro seems like an easy one. The decision to remove himself from classes may be worthy of raising an eyebrow for some, but that is mostly reaching for some level of outrage and a hot take on the situation. For a number of players, playing college football and going to college classes is nothing more than a requirement to make the leap to the NFL. If Jack wants to finish his degree, he will have plenty of time to do that in the future. UCLA head coach Jim Mora questioned the decision by Jack, perhaps more because of the injury than his potential skill at the next level. Mora is also curious if Jack has done enough to make the jump.
“My personal opinion is, I think he’s a tremendous football player and tremendous athlete, but I think it’s very risky to do this,” said Mora. “Having been on that side, there’s going to be a lot of speculation about what he is and where he fits.”
Mora coached in the NFL and is well-aware of what it takes to compete at the next level, but everybody knew Jack was just about ready to make the jump. Is Mora really being cautious about Jack’s potential and transition, or does he simply want one of the best linebackers in the country to come back and play one more season for the Bruins?
On Tap This Weekend
No. 23 California (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) at No. 5 Utah (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12)
The Cal Golden Bears are presented with quite the opportunity this weekend in Salt Lake City. Cal and Utah take center stage for a nationally-televised Pac-12 battle of unbeaten programs, and ESPN’s College GameDay pregame show will be there to get it all started. Cal is off to a good start, but Utah is off to an even better start with wins against Michigan and Oregon. If Cal can get out of this road game with a win, Cal will really jump up the rankings next week.
UC Davis (0-5, 0-2 Big Sky) vs. Northern Arizona (3-1, 1-1 Big Sky)
UC Davis is still looking for the first win of the season. If they are to get it this week, they will have to get revenge for a 23-21 setback a year ago against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks. Northern Arizona is coming in off a wild 49-41 win last week against Montana State.
Sacramento State (1-4, 0-2 Big Sky) at Montana State (2-2, 1-1 Big Sky)
Speaking of Montana State, they will play host to Sacramento State this week. The Hornets visit Bobcat Stadium this week looking to offer some payback for a high-scoring 59-56 loss in Sacramento last season. Montana State scored the game-winning touchdown with four seconds to play last year.
Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.