Taking It To The Next Level

By Lloyd Vance
Updated: January 18, 2009

NFL Draft PHILADELPHIA — The final list of underclassmen declaring for the upcoming 2009 NFL Draft is completed and once again this year’s draft class’ pedigree will be increase with the infusion of younger talent.

Though marquee quarterbacks Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) and Tim Tebow (Florida) preferred to play against the little guys for another season in college, this draft class is shaping up to be fairly deep.

The four positions that seemed to benefit from underclassmen joining the fray are Running Back (Greene, Moreno, Wells, McCoy, and others); Wide Receiver (Crabtree, Britt, Harvin, Heyward-Bey, Maclin, and others); Defensive Line (Maybin, E. Brown, Marks, and others) and Offensive Tackle (Smith, Isdaner, and Britton)

The underclassman who I will be most interested in seeing if he can make it at the next level is Ball State junior quarterback Nate Davis. Davis (6-feet-2, 217) had an outstanding junior campaign leading mid-major Ball State to a 12-0 start before slipping a little in the postseason.

Though Ball State was not able to crash the BCS’ party — the Cardinals lost to Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference championship game and then to Tulsa in the GMAC Bowl — their charismatic quarterback was the main reason why they even had a shot at the larger schools in the first place.

Davis was spectacular for the majority of the season that put late night talk show host David Letterman’s Cardinals on the map — ranked as high as 12th in polls.

The dual-threat quarterback threw for fantastic numbers of 258-401, 3591 yards, 64.3%, 26 TDs, and only 8 INTs plus he rushed for an additional 312 yards and 5 TDs.

Davis said of the decision to turn pro, “I know what I’m about to do won’t be easy, but it’s what my heart and head want to do at this time. It’s the right thing for me and my family at this time.” He leaves as the school’s leader in touchdown passes (74), passing yards (9,233), passing attempts (1,124) and completions (678).

Other underclassmen who have declared for the 2009 NFL Draft

Asher Allen, Georgia, CB, Jr.

Kenny Britt, Rutgers, WR, Jr.

Eben Britton, Arizona, OT, Jr.

Donald Brown, Connecticut, RB, Jr.

Everette Brown, Florida State, DE, Jr.

James Casey, Rice, TE, So.

Jeremy Childs, Boise St, WR, Jr.

Glen Coffee, Alabama, RB, Jr.

Austin Collie, BYU, WR, Jr.

Emanuel Cook, South Carolina, S, Jr.

Jared Cook, South Carolina, TE, Jr.

Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech, WR, So.

Andrew Davie, Arkansas, TE, Jr.

Nate Davis, Ball State, QB, Jr

Vontae Davis, Illinois, CB, Jr.

Josh Freeman, Kansas State, QB, Jr.

Shonn Greene, Iowa, RB, Jr.

Brian Hartline, Ohio State, WR, Jr.

Percy Harvin, Florida, WR, Jr.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Maryland, WR, Jr.

P.J. Hill, Wisconsin, RB, Jr.

Greg Isdaner, West Virginia, OL, Jr.

Ricky Jean-Francois, LSU, DT, Jr.

Paul Kruger, Utah, DE, Jr.

Brandon LaFell, LSU, WR, Jr.

Jeremy Maclin, Missouri, WR, So.

Sen’Derrick Marks, Auburn, DL, Jr.

Aaron Maybin, Penn State, DE, So.

LeSean McCoy, Pitt, RB, So.

Gerald McRath, Southern Miss, LB, Jr.

D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt, CB, Jr.

Knowshon Moreno, Georgia, RB, So.

Captain Munnerlyn, South Carolina, CB, Jr.

Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina, WR, Jr.

Kevin Ogletree, Virginia, WR, Jr.

Jerraud Powers, Auburn, DB, Jr.

Mark Sanchez, USC, QB, Jr.

Andre Smith, Alabama, OT, Jr.

Sean Smith, Utah, DB, Jr.

Matthew Stafford, Georgia, QB, Jr.

Donald Washington, Ohio State, DB, Jr.

Chris “Beanie” Wells, Ohio State, RB, Jr.