Making big life decisions comes with the internal balancing of risk versus rewards. But rarely is a 21-year-old making potentially life-defining decisions that come with a price tag of millions of dollars.

After the 2014 season, two UCF football players made that choice. Arguably UCF's top two players — Breshad Perriman and Jacoby Glenn — made the leap from college star to potential NFL Draft pick.

Across the nation, the number of underclassmen to enter the draft steadily ballooned over the past five years until 2015. In 2014, a record 98 players left school early to turn pro. In the 2015 class, there was nearly a 25 percent decline and just 74 players entered early.

"In terms of the underclassmen, that number is always skewed by the guys that make decisions that leave you kind of scratching your head saying 'why would you even think about coming out?'" ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said in a conference call last week. "The percentage of those [74 players] that are going in the first three or four rounds are probably as high as it's ever been. I think some guys made smarter decisions. I think the guys that you normally wonder why [they came out] aren't on that list."

Especially for underclassmen, the risk of entering the draft sometimes goes unnoticed when chasing large NFL contracts.

Of the 98 underclass players who entered the draft in 2014, nearly 40 percent weren't drafted. These players are unable to return to play college football, usually do not have a degree and, despite the chance of signing a free agent contract with a franchise — are often left unemployed.

"I just think with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and the lower money, that a lot of these players think they need to get out and get to their second contract," said Greg Linton, an agent with Hall of Fame Player Representation. "The reality of it is most of them don't make it to their second contract. Most of them barely make it two years in the league."

In the 2014 Draft, former UCF quarterback Blake Bortles, the No. 3 overall pick, signed a four-year deal worth just north of $20 million, and Storm Johnson — a seventh-round pick — signed a four-year deal worth $2.2 million.

According to, Johnson is guaranteed just $62, 728, which is broken up over the life of the contract. Bortles' entire contract is guaranteed.

To help combat the growing trend of underclassmen entering prematurely, the NFL reformed its Draft Advisory Board to encourage players to go back to school. Players who don't receive a first- or a second-round grade from the board are told they should remain in school.

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A positive response is no guarantee at being selected high either.

"There are only 100 picks," Linton said. "Not everybody can go in the second or third round."

However both Perriman and Glenn are working out together at Michael Johnson Performance in McKinney, Texas, for the NFL Combine with hopes of finding themselves in the top of the draft. For George O'Leary, both players' situations were different.

"With Breshad, he applied to the NFL advisory committee, and he got his answer back, and they called and told me the same answer," O'Leary said. "Jacoby, I never knew until the Wednesday before when he came in with his uncle and decided he wanted to leave. I think they are two different cases. But I wish them all well and move on.

"Some you are happy with, some I think should be making other decisions. But you wish them all and hope it works out for them and their families."

As underclassmen, neither player was able to participate in the offseason showcase games, but based off film study both have received positive reviews from Kiper.

"A little surprised he came out, but when you look at Glenn and you stack him up, workouts are going to be critical. How does he run, how does he test? If he does, he could be a highly rated player," he said.

And for Perriman, who led all UCF receivers in touchdowns, his size and speed stood out as well.

"Perriman, you saw what he can do. He's a tough, tough guy to cover," Kiper said. "He's the kind of guy I mentioned earlier as maybe a second-round possibility."


Ryan Gillespie is the Editor-in-Chief at the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @rgillespiecff or email him at