Several outlets are reporting that Tori Gurley has chosen to enter the NFL Draft. Despite the reports, I've heard that nothing is set in stone yet. As the old saying goes, though, where there's smoke, there's fire. Don't be surprised if we see the last of Gurley in the garnet and black on New Years Eve.
I'm probably going to be flamed for saying this, but here goes: if Gurley is getting good, trustworthy feedback about his prospects, I say that he should go. First of all, while you might be saying he needs more polish and only caught for a little over 400 yards this year, I say he has all the tools to be a good NFL receiver and simply didn't get to use them because he's behind Alshon Jeffery and playing with a QB that locks in on his top receiver. That won't change much next year, by the way. Gurley is tall, fast, never drops anything, and is a great blocker. What's not to like? The NFL is fully capable of seeing past stats and gauging a player's potential. They make millions for it. If Gurley has what it takes, he'll land somewhere.
Second of all, and perhaps more importantly, Gurley is 23, and that has to be motivating his decision. If Gurley stays until graduation, he'll be 25 going into the league. It takes about three years for a college receiver to adjust to the pro game. (Take Sidney Rice, for example.) That would put Gurley at 28 before he's ready to be a major factor for a team. Many franchises will shy away from drafting him if that's the case. If he's ready now, he needs to strike while the iron is hot, and by that I just mean while he's not too old for the league.
The Carolina fan in me wants Gurley back because he'll be an asset on the field, but sometimes, you've gotta do what's right for you. If leaving now is right for Gurley, then he needs to pursue the NFL. He needs to be careful to gauge the advice he's receiving and make sure he doesn't end up like Emanuel Cook or Clifton Geathers, but if he's getting legitimate positive feedback about where he'll be drafted and is ready to work his tail off to perform well at the combine, then he needs to make the jump.
I know a lot of Carolina fans like to complain about the number of early entrees we have each year, and I'll grant that we've had a lot, and what's worse is how many of them haven't gone high in the draft. However, don't blame our shortcomings on the field on early entrees. Every program that's good enough to recruit top-shelf talent suffers from this every single year, folks. It's not just us. Good players want to get to the NFL, especially the ones who come financially disadvantaged backgrounds, which is just about all of them not named Tim Tebow. The day that we succeed isn't going to be the day that that changes; it's going to be the day that we have enough talent to offset early-entree losses, just like the power programs.