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Saturday, November 1, 2014


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Column: Bell, Gholston, Sims made right choice making NFL leap




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Junior running back Le’Veon Bell catches a pass during a drill March 13, 2013, during Pro Day at the Duffy Daugherty Football Building. MSU football holds the annual event for NFL scouts and coaches to get a closer look at the Spartans’ NFL prospects. Adam Toolin/The State News



Stephen Brooks

Stephen Brooks

Hindsight always is 20/20.

So looking through your retrospective glasses – despite how heartbroken fans were when the decisions were made – it’s safe to say the three MSU underclassmen that left declared for the NFL Draft made the correct choice.

There’s no question the departures of running back Le’Veon Bell, tight end Dion Sims and defensive end William Gholston leave massive holes, both literally and figuratively, for the Spartans in 2013.

The reality of today’s era is you have to strike when the iron is hottest, and for the trio of ex-Spartans, that time had come. The only one with a potential argument to the contrary is Gholston.

Bell was the big winner, going much higher than experts projected as a second-round selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers, the 48th overall choice and second running back taken. He was expected to be taken off the board anywhere from the second through fourth rounds.

There was nothing left for him to show or accomplish in East Lansing on an individual level. Bell’s 382 carries last season were the most in the country and at a position where you have a finite amount of hits your body can endure — it would have been pointless to tote it 300 more times for free.

Sims and Gholston made the analysts look smart by living up to the projections as fourth-round choices. They will both continue their careers in the Sunshine State as the No. 106 and No. 126 overall selections as members of the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, respectively.

The pair were highly-touted prospects coming out of high school but never fully lived up to their potential at MSU. There can be an argument made that Gholston, given his freakish athletic gifts, could have refined his game and been more consistent en route to becoming a potential first- or second-round selection.

For Sims, who struggled with injuries and legal issues throughout his tenure at MSU, there was no need to risk another setback when the dream of reaching the NFL was all but assured.

If both would have come back, stayed healthy and had more productive seasons they would have climbed into higher rounds and cashed bigger checks. Or the ultimate nightmare could have come to fruition, a devastating injury that turns NFL executives into “No thanks, we’re just looking,” shoppers.

Although the production of the three junior draftees will be greatly missed this season, it never hurts a program to pump more guys into the professional ranks. Especially for a program that faces an uphill battle in recruiting against Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan for talent in the Midwest.

Had these three players come back, maybe they would be All-Americans. Maybe they would have become first-round draft picks. Maybe they would have set records and left as seniors as some of MSU’s all-time greats.

But they won’t.

Football is their job now. They have careers millions dream about and few can obtain.

Had they come back, maybe that never would have been possible.


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