Alabama’s Nick Saban laid some of the blame for the semifinal loss to last season at the feet of the NFL’s early evaluation process.
Saban believes some players were affected by learning about the grades before the Tide lost to eventual champion Ohio State on the same day Missouri roughed up Minnesota in the Citrus Bowl to complete and 11-3 season.
Tigers senior center Evan Boehm, who was among four players submitted for an early-entry evaluation by the NFL, said the process wasn’t stressful for him last season.
“Coach (Gary) Pinkel and his coaching staff do a great job and love to keep us focused on what we do and how we do things here at Mizzou,” Boehm said. “When you strap on the pads, you don’t have an NFL team’s name on your pads. You have Missouri. You have the black and gold on.”
Saban, who would like the early-entry calendar moved back to accommodate the longer college football season, opted to provide the grades to players when they were received.
Pinkel chose to keep them private until the season was finished.
“I’m glad that they didn’t tell us before our bowl game, because that could have weighed on some guys,” Boehm said.
Truth be told, Boehm already had his mind made up anyway and didn’t take long to let Missouri’s staff know the good news.
“Coach (Josh) Henson came up and told (senior left tackle) Connor (McGovern) and I after the bowl game when we were on the field celebrating,” Boehm said. “Connor and I looked at each other and said, ‘You know what, coach, we’re coming back. There’s no reason we shouldn’t come back.’”
Boehm hopes to wrap up his agriculture degree in December and train after that for the NFL Draft.
“But first, it’s all about Mizzou right now,” Boehm said. “It’s all about being here and doing the things that I need to do for myself, but also that I need to do for this team in order to make that life change for myself.”