REPORT: Three juniors declare, one to return

Alabama head coach Nick Saban said today that juniors Julio Jones, Marcell Dareus and Mark Ingram will declare for the coming NFL draft, while linebacker Dont’a Hightower has made the decision to return for his senior season.

Two other juniors (who went unnamed) are said to be weighing their options, most likely safety Mark Barron and receiver Marquise Maze.

Coach Saban said prior to the bowl game that with the looming NFL lockout as a possibility, he would only advise a junior declaring for the draft if they were a top fifteen pick. Some services have projected Jones as the top receiver taken in the draft, while Ingram and Dareus being in the top two at their respective positions.

As I said with Rolondo McClain last season, you have to be happy for them. Their families are about to be set potentially for life, as these players gain pay-for-play the legal way.

And while it’s tempting to try and lure, entice, pay or influence a junior to return for his senior season in order to selfishly help your program (when injury during the coming year could affect their livelihood), Alabama head coach Nick Saban has exemplified a proven track record on advising the player of what is best for them personally.

This can only help recruiting, as the decisions of some of the nation’s top recruits are just around the corner. It will be interesting to see how Ingram’s decision may impact two of the nation’s top runningbacks (and Alabama prospects) Isaiah Crowell and Dee Hart. Crowell’s decision could come as early as tomorrow.

The vast majority of players today are not fans of any school, but simply want to get to the NFL. Alabama and Nick Saban have proven that the path to big bucks (legally) can run through Tuscaloosa, a bonus for top talent seeking to get paid for their skills without the help of a gambling boss funneling funds under the table.

We’ll miss you guys…great work, and Roll Tide.