|Dorsey, Barton reap benefits of staying in school|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 03 January 2008 15:36|
Glenn Dorsey and Kirk Barton decided to stay put, and it sure worked out pretty well for them.
On Monday night, they'll be staring across the line at each other in the BCS championship game, both trying to close out their college careers with the ultimate prize.
A few months from now, they'll hear their names called in the NFL draft.
``This is the most fun season of football I've ever been a part of at any level,'' said Barton, the fifth-year senior who anchors Ohio State's offensive line. ``It's the best decision I ever made.''
Even more so for Dorsey, LSU's defensive star.
While he probably would have been a middle to late first-round pick after last season, he decided to stick with the Tigers for one more year, figuring he'd boost his stock even higher in the draft and help his team make a run at No. 1.
Dorsey has already taken care of the first part, cleaning up on a bunch of postseason awards and claiming the top spot on some mock draft boards. With one more win, he'll head to the pros with a national championship on his resume, as well.
``Initially, it was hard. I knew I had a great opportunity in front of me,'' Dorsey said Thursday. ``But now that I'm in the national championship game, I know I made the right decision.''
Dorsey is one of the few players in recent years to pass up a chance to be a first-rounder, which puts him in a rather unique position to dole out advice to those in a similar position. While attending the college football awards show in Orlando, Fla., last month, one unnamed junior from another team came up to pick his brain.
``You've just got to weed out all the outside influences,'' Dorsey advised. ``You can't let people get in your ear. Just make the right decision for yourself, your family and your team. Don't listen to those guys.''
``You know, those guys,'' Dorsey said, breaking into a grin at his not-so-subtle reference to unscrupulous agents and johnny-come-latelies trying to claim a spot in the posse.
While Dorsey and Barton know this will be their final college game, several players on both teams are facing one of the biggest decisions of their lives shortly after they leave the Big Easy.
Not exactly the most focused state of mind to take into the biggest game of their lives, as James Laurinaitis can attest.
The Ohio State linebacker still remembers what happened at the end of last season, when the unbeaten, star-studded Buckeyes were routed in the national championship game by underdog Florida.
This time it's Laurinaitis, with a year of college eligibility remaining but an opportunity to go pro, who's trying to ward off thoughts of million-dollar contracts and first-round glory.
``Last year, there were a lot of distractions with some of the guys who were already seniors leaving, with agents and different things,'' he conceded. ``You have to stay focused and not focus on those things. LSU's a big enough task for us.''
Laurinaitis, a consensus All-American and finalist for several major awards, doesn't have much left to accomplish individually.
So, it's no surprise he filed paperwork with the NFL to get an assessment of his draft status.
Over the Christmas break, he talked with his family about the report. Once he got to New Orleans, he was determined to put the NFL out of his head - not exactly an easy thing to do.
No one wants to be the next Anthony Poindexter, a star safety at Virginia in the 1990s who was projected as a first-round pick after his junior season.
He stayed with the Cavaliers, and tore up a knee late in his senior season. He was damaged goods, falling all the way to the seventh round and lasting only one season in the pros.
Dorsey got a major scare this season when his right knee was injured by an illegal chop block against Auburn. Fortunately, he sustained no major damage.
``You never know,'' Barton said. ``It's such a violent sport.''
Two of Laurinaitis' teammates, fellow juniors Brian Robiskie and Alex Boone, also have performed well enough this season to consider the NFL.
Robiskie, the son of NFL coach Terry Robiskie, led the top-ranked Buckeyes with 50 catches for 885 yards and 10 touchdowns. Boone, a towering 6-foot-8 and 325 pounds, is a three-year starter at the critical left tackle spot.
``I haven't even though about it,'' Robiskie said. ``We're so focused on this game.''
Well, that's not entirely true.
Sheepishly, Robiskie admitted that he, too, filed with the NFL to learn his possible position in the draft. That was about as far as he wanted to go with that subject.
``It was just a learning thing for me,'' the receiver said. ``I kind of learned a little bit, but my focus is still on this game and hasn't gone anywhere. Obviously, I want to take time after the game to sit down with my family and talk about it. But that's definitely after the game.''
LSU defensive end Kirston Pittman is in a bit of a different situation. He's a fifth-year senior, which would normally leave him with no alternative but the pros. However, he missed two seasons with injuries and could apply to the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility.
Three weeks ago, Pittman filed with the NFL for some guidance on his draft status. Just a few days ago, he covered all his bases by asking the school to get started on the process of applying for another year in school.
After the game, it's decision time: Should he stay or should he go?
``I'm really not stressing about it at all,'' Pittman said. ``I can't lose.''