The Alliance of American Football suspended operations this week without finishing its first season.
But even with one upstart spring league apparently dead, a college football star has eyes on another.
The second version of the XFL won’t begin play until 2020, but Justyn Ross of Clemson already is considering the possibility of joining the league in its inaugural season.
Ross is entering his sophomore season for the Tigers, which means he wouldn’t be eligible for the NFL until 2021.
Thus, he could potentially play one more season at Clemson, then play in the XFL for one year before declaring for the 2021 NFL draft.
“That’s crazy to even think about,” Ross told Bleacher Report.
The XFL doesn’t plan on competing with the NFL for players anytime soon, but it certainly will be an option for players who don’t want to go to college or are not yet eligible for the NFL.
XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck said the league won’t have the three-years-removed-from-high-school-class mandate that the NFL has and could sign players straight out of high school.
“We certainly believe we have the ability to sign a guy who’s been out of high school for a year or two years. … We think there is the possibility of taking some of those guys,” Luck said in February.
The XFL says it will pay as much as $200,000 a year for elite players, which could be enough to entice prospects like Ross away from the NCAA.
“If (the XFL) is offering that kind of money, that’s hard for an 18- or 19-year-old to turn down,” Ross said. “If you really need that money, oh yeah, go do that. Something could happen. You can get hurt. Anything can happen. You have to take care of yourself because it can be over just like that.”
Ross had exactly 1,000 receiving yards in his freshman season last year and led the ACC in yards per reception with 21.7.
He saved his best for last as he averaged 150.5 yards per game and scored three touchdowns in two College Football Playoff victories.
But apart from his scholarship, he’s not being compensated in college and can’t profit off his own likeness. Those wouldn’t be restrictions if he were to leave for the XFL.
One Power Five coach told Bleacher Report that someone like Ross could wreck the NCAA’s way of doing things if he spurns it for the XFL.
“It all depends on the viability of the XFL,” the coach said. “All it takes is a couple of big-name guys to take that money, and others will follow. Once that happens, how does the NCAA respond? Do we continue to allow talented young players to leave, or do we up the ante with stipends or allow them to market themselves or both?”
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