Jake Butt became a cautionary tale during last year’s Orange Bowl.
In his final college game, the Michigan tight end tore his ACL. The serious knee injury caused him to go from being a potential top-50 draft pick to going in the fifth round (145th overall) to the Denver Broncos.
Butt’s injury showed a worst-case scenario for players who play in bowl games before entering the draft. Butt’s decision is not one he regrets, however.
In an essay for The Players’ Tribune, Butt wrote about his Orange Bowl experience and shared advice for other college players who have to decide if they want to risk their NFL future in a bowl game.
Butt acknowledged that players like Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey, who sat out bowl games, were in different situations. And Butt kept his advice simple, telling players to “trust their gut.”
From now on, whenever a player is thinking about whether he should play in his bowl game or sit out and start preparing for the draft, my name will come up. Somebody will always say, “Well, you saw what happened to Jake Butt….”
And that’s O.K. People are going to say what they will.
But for any player who is deciding whether to play or sit for his bowl game, as somebody who’s been there, my advice is pretty simple.
Trust your gut. Talk to the people around you — the people you trust — and lean on them for guidance. But at the end of the day, trust your gut and do what you feel is best for you.
Also … don’t make your decision out of fear. Don’t let what happened to me scare you into not playing in a game that means something to you.
You can’t play in a bubble. Injuries happen. I played because I love the University of Michigan, and I wanted to be there for my teammates and coaches. And unfortunately for me, I got injured. Nobody wants to be a comeback story. But when you’re put in that situation, what else are you gonna do?