D.J. Fluker,Justin Pugh become Senior Bowl's first non-senior players
Alabama's D.J. Fluker, Syracuse's Justin Pugh become Senior Bowl's first non-senior players
MOBILE, Alabama - For the first time in its history, the Senior Bowl has added to its roster players with collegiate eligibility remaining.
Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage said Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker and Syracuse offensive tackle Justin Pugh would be on the Senior Bowl roster when it was released later today. Each has played three seasons of college football after redshirting in his first season on campus.
The Senior Bowl has been lobbying the NFL to allow it to invite non-seniors who are leaving school for pro football if they meet certain criteria.
Fluker, who played at McGill-Toolen and Foley in high school, will not be able to play in the game because he has a strained calf. However, Fluker will be in Mobile starting on Sunday to attend meetings and NFL interviews.
"We wanted to bring him in here," Savage said, "even though he won't be able to play because we have worked so hard to get him here."
Savage said the two players had to meet three conditions after being deemed worthy of a Senior Bowl invitation.
"They had to have been with their college team for four seasons," he said. "We had to get verification that they had graduated before Dec. 31. And they had to have the support of their head coach for their candidacy for the Senior Bowl."
These will be the hurdles that future non-seniors will have to clear to earn an invitation to the Senior Bowl.
"We think it is a significant step forward," Savage said, "because now the fourth-year junior who has taken care of his academic work will have this opportunity. The Senior Bowl can be a reward for him."
Fluker (6-foot-6, 335 pounds) held down the right offensive tackle position for Alabama's 2011 and 2012 BCS national championship teams. As a senior, he was selected to the All-SEC squad and was a second-team All-American for the Walter Camp Football Foundation and The Associated Press.
Pugh (6-5, 297) has been Syracuse's left offensive tackle for the past three seasons, helping clear the way for a different 1,000-yard rusher in each campaign. He has been an All-Big East selection after each of the past two seasons.
Savage said a good week of practice might allow Pugh to rise to first-round status in the NFL Draft.
The Senior Bowl will be played on Jan. 26 at Ladd-Pebbles Stadium.
About time. Should be open to all draftees. Call it the NFL combine game.
I forgot which game it was (senior bowl? Shrine game?), but a few years back there was a guy who played in two. He got an extra year of eligibility after playing in it one year, iirc.
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