A few Power Five teams will be without some star players during bowl season, but Texas football looks to be at full strength for the Sugar Bowl.
Nowadays, we’re seeing more and more stars around the country at the college level skip respective bowl games to prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft. Texas football was hit hard by that trend last year in its preparations for the Texas Bowl matchup against the Mizzou Tigers. There’s nothing that should inhibit Texas football this year in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against the Georgia Bulldogs in the way of players skipping out for the NFL Draft, or any other issues/preparations.
The significant players around the Big 12, as of Dec. 12, mainly come from the Oklahoma State Cowboys and West Virginia Mountaineers. Oklahoma State star junior running back Justice Hill and offensive lineman Larry Williams are sitting out the Liberty Bowl against Mizzou. West Virginia superstar senior quarterback Will Grier will sit out the Camping World Bowl against the Syracuse Orange to prepare for the 2019 NFL Draft.
However, the bug of players sitting out bit the Texas Longhorns hard before the Texas Bowl last year. Some of the issue was from suspensions, and the rest was for players preparing for the 2018 NFL Draft. The main player missing for the Horns last year during the postseason was Baltimore Ravens rookie safety DeShon Elliott.
Moreover, the main point here involves the growing trend where key players are sitting out what seem to be impactful bowl games. Grier is a good example. West Virginia was in place for College Football Playoff contention a few weeks prior to the end of the regular season. Now, its quarterback is sitting out a top 25 bowl matchup.
A lot of the outcry regarding players missing bowl games to prepare for the NFL Draft is actually toward the college football postseason itself. The installment of the Playoff system took the relevance out of a lot of bowl games, especially outside of the New Year’s Six. A potential first round 2019 NFL Draft selection like Grier doesn’t want to risk an injury over the Camping World Bowl. His position on this situation is understandable.
In terms of the relevance for the Texas football program, if the team is in national title contention or something like the Sugar Bowl, players shouldn’t be sitting out. In a situation last year like the Texas Bowl, it’s also understandable that someone like Elliott would skip out. Players don’t want to risk an injury that could hamper their NFL Draft status over a bowl game that some will forget even over the course of one off-season.
You can view the updated list of players that will be skipping bowl games, as the news is released, on 247Sports here.