Chasing NFL money can wait for U of M player

Tyler Johnson, the University of Minnesota receiver, is the kind of star athlete that more people should notice — not because of his football skills, but because he knows the value of an education.

Wednesday was the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft. It’s understandable that a lot of kids take the money and run. Maybe they’ll work on their degree later; maybe they won’t. Money is hard to ignore.

Johnson ignored it, tweeting this week that he’ll stay in school.

He tells the Star Tribune’s Chip Scoggins that he’s excited about the Gophers team and wants another year with it.

That’s the football side of the calculation. Here’s the human side. He wants to teach something to his four siblings and the kids of North Minneapolis.

“It will help them to understand and realize that getting a degree is very important,” he tells Scoggins. “It means a lot to me knowing I’ve got a big impact on a lot of people.”

He’ll graduate after the fall semester, likely holding every major receiving record at the U of M.

He’ll also hold a degree in business and marketing education.

  • Gary F

    Good to see that his headlights shine further down the road.

  • ec99

    So, what does that say about college hockey, which scouts 6th graders, gets verbal commitments from 8th graders, and watches players leave for the pros after their freshman year?

    • That happens in most major sports.

      • ec99

        Nope. I can think of no other sport that has the sort of freshman attrition rate as hockey.

        • Then you aren’t paying attention.

          • ec99

            Sorry, but I am.

          • I amend my original post and agree with you with the caveat that college hockey aren’t really designed as the feeder system to the NHL as much as college football/basketball it is for the NFL / NBA (baseball has it’s own feeder system not really tied to college).

            So yes, you are correct and I apologize for tossing out a pithy remark earlier.

          • ec99

            S’ok. Among college sports, hockey is unique. It alone has the extensive scouting and recruitment process for middle schoolers. It sends high school graduates to developmental leagues, so that they enter the university at 21 years of age. The blue chippers have already been drafted by the NHL while in high school or freshmen in college. The pro teams decide if they stay or leave.

            The pros also have other sources: Canadian Major Juniors and Europe, which football and basketball don’t.

    • Erik Petersen

      Minor league hockey pays an adult wage. Minor league baseball does not pay an adult wage besides the signing bonus, and NFL has no minor leagues.

      Basketball is scouted somewhat at the early teen level, certainly by collegiate programs.

      • ec99

        Every step in hockey is a training ground for the next, from midgets on up. By the time you get to the minor leagues, you are working for a pro team, and hoping to be called up. As I said, the whole system really explodes the myth of the student-athlete.

        • Erik Petersen

          Maybe so. I would also assert the architecture and dimensions of hockey allow for 14 year olds with prodigy skills, like skating ability, to be taken seriously. Basketball too, perhaps.

          Baseball is what I know, and you cant say that about baseball…. 14 year old hitters cant hit 19 year old pitching, 14 year old’s can sometime have 80+ mph fastballs but it doesn’t matter because there’s tens of thousands of 18 yo pitchers who can throw 90…

          • ec99

            Baseball is a different animal. It doesn’t use colleges as an uncompensated minor league system. It has always had its own. Hockey gets them younger. And, of course, there’s a whole mess of parents who see junior in the NHL at 7.

  • John

    Is it possible that part of his own calculus is that he’s not sure he’d make the cut, and then be out whatever scholarship he has AND not have a high paying NFL job?

    I hate to be a cynic, but maybe he’s playing long term because he thinks his short term prospects of getting drafted aren’t that great and he doesn’t want to lose the sure thing he’s got?

    • jon

      Or, if he could make the cut now, he assumes that he’ll be able to make it in a few years too… (though college kids aren’t generally great at estimating their risk of injury…)

      Staying he gets to keep his scholarship, he gets to get his degree, and since he is still likely getting better at playing he’ll be an even better player in a few years (perhaps drawing a bigger salary? I don’t know how the NFL draft works well enough to say.)

      • TBH

        I’m not too sure that the NFL cares too much of a difference between a 22 year old and a 20 year old, assuming the skill set is exactly the same, during the draft process. I am not an NFL draft talent advisor, so I don’t know for certain, but I imagine it is such a brutal game that the odds of a long career are slim.

        • jon

          What I was trying to say is that a 22 year old player is generally superior to the same player 2 years earlier.

          Very few athletes peak at 20 (barring injury, or stopping playing, etc.)

    • Probably not since, according to Scoggins, “he didn’t use the College Advisory Committee to get feedback from NFL talent evaluators on his draft status.”

      Sounds like he was all in for a degree.

      • John

        Good on him. He’ll be all right no matter which route he goes if he’s able to figure this sort of stuff out at 18-19 years old.

    • Erik Petersen

      It’s fair to say there is draft calculation here. He’s probably sized himself up correctly as a good collegian but non elite pro who’s draft position would be augmented with a strong senior season.

      Everything else he is doing, getting his degree… fits in sensibly with all that.

  • When you have the momentum of classes and university life in general, it is a wise decision to see it through to graduation. Losing that momentum can mean never completing your degree, losing the networking possibilities with your peers, starting your “real” professional career late if ever, and living a life of regret.