Why do top HS football players go to college?

Really, why do highly ranked high school football players bother with the NCAA? Doesn’t the CFL have no minimum age requirement? They could play in Canada for a few years, make legit money, play against decent competition, and later enter the NFL draft or sign as free agents. If after a few years of CFL play they aren’t good enough for the NFL, they can probably just stay in the CFL and make money. I’m not saying every half-ways-decent HS football player should consider this, but at least the top 20 or 50 or so. It’s obvious that a lot of these kids are more interested in the money than the education, so why not go get it?

To build on that, what’s stopping the NFL or even another seperate entity from creating kind of a pro developmental football league with no minimum age requirement? The NFL probably has their agreements with the NCAA, but could a seperate organization create a pro football league for kids coming out of HS? Would it work?

Because the level of play is a quantum leap beyond high school and college.

You might have one or two high school players who can make the leap. Maybe. Possibly. Not very likely.

The NFL doesn’t have to pay colleges to do their development for them.

And a junior pro league would have no particular way to make money; how would they draw people into watching their games? They could offer cheap ticket prices, but really the quality of play is likely to be a lot lower than that of the sub-NFL pro football leagues (Arena Football, etc) which themselves ended up not able to hold an audience.

Also, few players actually make it to the NFL, they had better have a degree to fall back on. (If they graduate)

I realize the jump from HS to CFL is greater than HS to NCAA, but that’s why I think only a handful could/should do it. But why don’t they? Is the CFL allowed to “recruit” HS players? Have they tried?

If a junior pro league were attracting the very top athletes from HS, I think it would draw. Look at all the maniacs that follow HS recruiting religiously. Maybe it would be a spring/summer league to avoid direct competition with the NFL.
I have no idea how the arena league failed. Those games were a lot of fun. But that is another issue.

The competition level at HS is nowhere near the CFL. Even a player who has the physical gifts won’t have the skill level. Even in college, freshmen need to skill up to make the varsity team and they do so by playing against increasingly better competition.

Some freshmen can play against top-level college competition right away, but they’re pretty rare (Emmit Smith was one, IIRC).

Don’t the NFL and the CFL have an agreement that one league won’t use players who are ineligible for the other league? That might be an issue. Anyway salaries in the CFL are much, much lower than the NFL. The salary cap for a whole team is around $4.2 million right now. A lot of NFL players make more than that. The minimum salary in the CFL is about $42,000. In the NFL a minimum rookie salary for 2011 is $340,000. Considering the risk of injury and potential draft status risk, the CFL probably isn’t worth while.

Ricky Williams was suspended by the NFL for the 2006 season for a repeat violation of the league’s drug policy. He played for the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL that year, then returned to the Dolphins in 2007, when his suspension ended.

However, in reading Williams’ Wikipedia article, it sounds like the CFL later implemented a rule preventing CFL teams from signing players who are under NFL suspension. That said, it’s not clear if the CFL has the same restriction in signing players who are not yet eligible for the NFL Draft (because they have not been out of high school for long enough).

Nailed it in one. High school football isn’t even really football yet. College is getting closer. NFL football is the best of the best and I’m sure there are some very good athletes in the CFL playing as well. High school players couldn’t hack it in the CFL.

The CFL does not have an age minimum, and I think the agreement Marley mentions is in regards to suspended players.

This articleclaims that Bryce Brown, the top HS recruit going into the 2009 season, actually considered the CFL instead of college and could have made up to $5mil per year. Brown ended up going to Tennesse, and I think he’s somewhere else now. But if this opportunity were available, even if only for the top 5 or so athletes, why isn’t it considered? Is it really a crazy idea to think that top players could make money somewhere instead of play college football where they aren’t even allowed to make money?

It sounds like you’re right.

No, it says that’s what his representative said. His representative is, according to Wikipedia, “a former felon, rapper, and mobile phone salesman who identifies himself as Brown’s trainer and handler.” It sounds like he’s trying to make a buck off a star HS football player and the family is too stupid to tell him to get lost. The Times blog post confirms what I said about the salary cap in the CFL (which I got from Wikipedia): the cap is $4.2 million a year per team.

Because they’re not physically ready for pro football, and they can’t make that much money in the CFL. It makes more sense to enroll at football factory, live the sweet life as a big man on campus and get the under the table benefits, and then get a fat contract in the NFL.

Unless you’re getting paid a lot (namely, quite a bit more than USC’s annual cost of attendance, which is what I assume you’d be giving up), I don’t see why any high school player would want to play against such high competition and risk looking outmatched in front of scouts.

High school basketball recruits have recently been trying out going pro directly, in Europe. I haven’t heard of any real futures come from that strategy. For a football recruit to try something similar, they’d have to be so good they’d be choosing being a runt on a Canadian team in a cold city, or being BMOC at a big school (probably making some pocket change under the table) in a warm SEC towm or maybe in L.A. or Texas. Many more people would be watching, you’d have friends your own age, and if you perform you stand to make much money in the NFL after a few years.
College is a pretty cool place for a young man playing football.

Brandon Jennings did this and is now a very good NBA player.

Yeah, you could risk being exposed as a not-so-great player in the CFL, or you could be the #1 rated recruitin HS and do nothing in college football, a la Mitch Mustain.

Does the UFL have an age minimum? It is also, presumably, a much higher level of competition than NCAA, but just curious if it could provide another avenue for top HS athletes.

I believe the CFL also has a limit on the number of U.S. (or non-Canadian) players per team. It’s not clear they’d be better using this limited resource to sign an HS graduate than a “just-missed” NFL prospect.

A few NFL players never played college FB but they did not join the NFL at age 18. Eric Swann is one example.


They do, though the limit is that at least 50% of the team’s roster (current roster size is 42) have to be “non-imports”. (Wiki article)

I think that the bigger factor is, as Marley23 notes, the extremely low total salary cap under which CFL teams operate. You’re not going to go up to Canada and become a millionaire.

About the only instance I can think of in which the CFL would be an attractive option to a high school athlete is if he is completely incapable of successfully attending college (even with the tremendous amount of tutoring and other assistance which major colleges give to their star athletes). And, at that point, I think that most NFL teams (not to mention most CFL teams) would wonder if the kid is smart enough to master a pro playbook.

That’s still a pretty recent innovation. I don’t know if too many other players are going to do it for a variety of reasons - they’re new to the European system and not necessarily going to play a lot - but it’s possible there will be other success stories.

I also think the CFL would reject the idea of simply being considered as a “development league” for the NFL - the sport is increasing in popularity (alongside the rabidity of Rider Nation, it seems) and being seen as “second tier” or “bush league” is something they’ve been working pretty hard to get rid of.

There’s another interesting point in the wiki linked above: the type of players that have the most success in the CFL aren’t the types of players that tend to succeed in the NFL, and vice versa. The different style of play requires smaller, more versatile players, and skills apparently don’t translate very well. It wouldn’t make much sense to end up using (what could be) sub-par NFL style players in roles on a CFL team, simply in order to develop them for an NFL team.