There’s a major decision ahead for three of the MSU football team’s biggest stars.
Following the team’s Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl victory over TCU on Saturday, it was expected that juniors running back Le’Veon Bell, defensive end William Gholston and tight end Dion Sims might take a look at joining the professional ranks. And according to reports, the NFL wheels are in motion.
Multiple outlets including MLive are reporting the trio have submitted paperwork to the NFL College Advisory Board, requesting an evaluation of their draft stock. The board consists of several NFL general managers, personnel directors and directors of the NFL draft scouting combines that decide where a player would be selected if they decided to leave school.
The players have until the Jan. 15 underclassmen deadline to declare themselves eligible.
Perhaps the biggest decision swirling sits with Bell, who’s received the greatest amount of speculation of the three underclassmen in question. The 6-foot-2, 237-pound running back out of Columbus, Ohio was a workhorse for the Spartans during a difficult season, rushing for 1,793 yards and 12 touchdowns in a nation’s most 350 carries during the 2012 campaign.
Bell’s statistics and highlight reel plays earned him a first team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media — not to mention the eyes of many NFL scouts as well.
Sports Illustrated’s NFL Draft analyst Tony Pauline tweeted on Tuesday that Bell is meeting with agents in the coming days and a decision might be imminent. If he were to leave, CBSSports.com ranks Bell as the No. 11 running back in the draft being selected in the third or fourth round while walterfootball.com has him as the No. 6 slot and going as high as the second round.
After the bowl victory, Bell told members of the media he wanted to discuss his options with people close to him before formally making a decision.
“It’s a whole bunch of other factors that’s going to go into the decision,” Bell said. “I want to make sure I do things the right way, talk to my family about it, the players and coaches about it. Make sure I get output from everybody and see what everybody thinks.”
It’s a process not uncommon to head coach Mark Dantonio, who lost then-juniors defensive tackle Jerel Worthy (Green Bay Packers, Round 2) and running back Edwin Baker (San Diego Chargers, Round 7) to the NFL after the 2011 season.
Gholston currently is ranked as the No. 13 defensive end in the draft by CBSSports.com, which also places him in the third or fourth round. The Detroit native is the cousin of former first round draft pick Vernon Gholston, who most recently saw time in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams.
Sims is not ranked on the CBSSports.com report. However, Sims is highly touted for his 6-foot-5, 285-pound frame, which generally is a hot commodity in the NFL.
Other Spartans expecting to be drafted include cornerback Johnny Adams (No. 23 at position, Round 5-6), defensive tackle Anthony Rashad White (No. 18 at position, Round 6), kicker Dan Conroy (No. 6 at position, Round 7 or free agent) and guard Chris McDonald (No. 19 at position, Round 7 or free agent).