To stay or to goOU’s Sam Bradford will soon face a tough decision — return to college football or head to the NFL. Several quarterbacks before him have faced the same question. Here’s a look at the decisions of two who stayed and two who left:
Peyton Manning→The scenario: After his junior season at Tennessee, Manning was projected as the top overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft. With his degree already finished, many believed he would leave school. →The decision: Manning stayed in Knoxville for his senior season. →The outcome: The Vols won the SEC championship but failed to win a national title. Manning also finished behind Charles Woodson in the Heisman Trophy balloting. The next spring, however, Manning received a nice consolation prize, being selected first overall in the NFL Draft. In the decade since, he’s become one of the league’s best.
Ben Roethlisberger→The scenario: A relative unknown before the 2003 season, he became an intriguing NFL prospect after leading Miami (Ohio) to an undefeated season. →The decision: Roethlisberger decided to leave Oxford for the NFL. →The outcome: Pittsburgh drafted him No. 11 overall and planned to use him sparingly for a year or two as he learned the system. But by the third game of his rookie season, Roethlisberger was the starter. He led the Steelers to the AFC Championship Game and was unanimously selected Rookie of the Year. He has become one of the league’s elite quarterbacks.
Matt Leinart→The scenario: After leading Southern Cal to the 2004 national championship, Leinart was the projected as the top overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. →The decision: Leinart decided to stay in college but took out a massive insurance policy to cover himself if he’d have gotten injured. →The outcome: Leinart won the Heisman Trophy in 2005 but lost the national title to Texas. The draft didn’t go as planned either. Leinart fell all the way to Arizona at No. 10. He started 11 games during his rookie season but has only played in six games since. The Cardinals are having their best year in ages behind Kurt Warner.
Vince Young→The scenario: After leading Texas to the 2005 national championship, Young was projected as a high first-round pick. →The decision: Young decided to leave Austin with one year of eligibility left. →The outcome: Despite a rocky lead-up to the draft — Young’s low score on the Wonderlic Test was widely discussed — he was drafted third overall by Tennessee. He was the Rookie of the Year and a Pro Bowler in 2006. Two years later, he isn’t even starting for the Titans. A knee injury sidelined him originally, but several odd off-field episodes, along with Kerry Collins’ outstanding play, have kept Young on the bench. By Jenni Carlson
To stay or to go