College football: Top players make major moves amid bowl showdowns
As teams gear up for their final games of the season, college football fans will partake in their last tailgating festivities of the year to cheer on their team in the season ending bowl championship games.
But as we've seen in recent years, bowl season can get very hectic, as not everyone plans on playing in their respective team's final games in favor of heading to either the NFL Draft or the transfer portal.
While Alabama has already lost a number of players to the portal, it is yet to be confirmed if Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young or two-time Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner Will Anderson Jr. will compete in the Crimson Tide's Sugar Bowl.
Both star athletes are projected to be first round NFL draft picks and are currently deciding on whether to skip out on the non-playoff bowl to prepare for the combine in February.
On the other hand, Drake Maye, North Carolina's breakout quarterback, wasted no time in letting Tar Heel nation know he will be returning for another season next year and also suiting up as the team's starting quarterback in the upcoming Holiday Bowl against Oregon.
Similarly, Clemson's new starting quarterback Cade Klubnik will play in the Tigers' Orange Bowl showdown against Tennessee after leading the team to its eighth ACC conference title. Clemson's former QB starter DJ Uiagalelei will hit the transfer portal instead.
Top players to skip bowl games for an NFL future
While bowl games can serve as a final hurrah for players to cap off their collegiate careers, it can also be a dangerous way to get injured and possibly hurt their future hopes of playing in the big league.
On Monday, Ohio State was dealt a tough blow when star wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba announced on social media that he won’t be participating in the College Football Playoff's Peach Bowl in order to prepare for the draft.
The Florida Gators were hit with the same tough luck on Monday as their starting quarterback Anthony Richardson also declared his intentions to shoot for the draft. Richardson will miss out on the Gators’ Las Vegas Bowl game against Oregon State.
Adding to the "skipping a bowl" crop, Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr., Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, and Notre Dame star tight end Michael Mayer have all announced plans to miss their bowl games as the top players on their respective teams.
Without these leading players on the field for non-semi final bowl games, programs like Penn State, Florida, Kentucky, and Notre Dame will have the opportunity to give their more inexperienced players time on the field as a prep for next season.
The college football bowl season is set to start on Friday, December 16, with the Bahamas Bowl and the Cure Bowl up first.
Cover photo: Collage: KEVIN C. COX / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP