When Alabama coach Nick Saban speaks, the college and high school football world listens. So, when the Crimson Tide figurehead told CBS Sports that he’s afraid high school seniors might begin skipping their final prep seasons to avoid injury risks, plenty took notice.
Saban’s comments came in response to questions he was asked about college stars such as Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey skipping their final bowl games to avoid a pre-NFL Draft injury. He also hedged his comments by stipulating he was concerned about skipped senior seasons specifically in the instance of a new preseason or early season signing day, as has been mooted by the NCAA; a new early signing day will be held Dec. 20 in 2017 for the 2018 recruiting class.
For now that December date remains the first opportunity for high school players to sign on, which means that senior prep stars still have far too much to prove to consider skipping a final campaign. Still, Saban’s point shouldn’t be taken too lightly.
“Same thing will happen in high school if they make the signing day before the season,” Saban told CBS Sports. “It will take a few years, then some kid will say, ‘Hey, I’m going to Notre Dame. I’m not playing my senior year.’ Then the high school coach will go nuts.”
Reason for high school coaches to panic? Probably not. At least not yet. Still, it’s yet another concern for America’s most popular scholastic sport, which has found itself under siege in recent years.