College Football Bowl Game Opt Out Tracker: Which Star Players are Getting Ready for the NFL Draft?

After the 2020 season of college football was derailed by COVID-19 outbreaks, and we only got to see 25 bowl games, this year brings a return to normalcy with a full slate of bowl game action. Football fans will be excited to see 2022 NFL Draft prospects put together one last game of film, but not all draft prospects will take the field as they hope to avoid ending their college career with an injury. In this article, we’ll keep track of which players have confirmed they will not be playing in their respective bowl games this year.

College Football Most Notable Opt-Outs

  • Oregon DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Alamo Bowl
  • Arkansas WR Treylon Burks, Outback Bowl
  • SMU WR Reggie Roberson, Fenway Bowl
  • SMU WR Danny Gray, Fenway Bowl
  • Notre Dame S Kyle Hamilton, Fiesta Bowl
  • Notre Dame RB Kyren Williams, Fiesta Bowl
  • Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker, Peach Bowl
  • West Virginia RB Leddie Brown, Guaranteed Rate Bowl
  • UTSA RB Sincere McCormick, Frisco Bowl
  • Florida DL Zachary Carter, Gasparilla Bowl
  • Memphis WR Calvin Austin III, Hawaii Bowl
  • Nevada QB Carson Strong, Quick Lane Bowl
  • West Virginia RB Leddie Brown, Guaranteed Rate Bowl
  • Houston CB Marcus Jones, Birmingham Bowl
  • Auburn CB Roger McCreary, Birmingham Bowl
  • Virginia Tech WR Tre Turner, Pinstripe Bowl
  • Iowa State RB Breece Hall, Cheez-It Bowl
  • Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett, Peach Bowl
  • Purdue WR David Bell, Music City Bowl
  • Purdue DE George Karlaftis, Music City Bowl

How Will the Missing Players Impact the Bowl Games?

Alamo Bowl: Oregon Ducks vs. Oklahoma Sooners

Kayvon Thibodeaux will be the first or second pick in the upcoming NFL draft. He has decided to prepare for his professional career rather than play for his college team in this significant bowl game. Thibodeaux became the first player in program history to be a unanimous All-American player. He is a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Bronco Nagurski Trophy for the best defensive player in college football. On December 6, Thibodeaux announced he would skip Oregon’s bowl game. However, as talented as Thibodeaux is, he wasn’t as productive in the team’s biggest season games against Utah. The Ducks should still be capable of winning this bowl game that was likely to be a shootout regardless of whether or not Thibodeaux played.

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Outback Bowl: Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Arkansas Razorbacks

Treylon Burks has been one of the best receivers in college football this season, but he won’t be on the field for Arkansas in the Outback Bowl. Burks finished this season with 66 catches for 1,104 yards and 11 touchdowns, and Razorback fans believe he will break into the first round once he goes through the scouting process and the NFL combine. Arkansas is a slight underdog in the Outback Bowl, and it can be easily argued that they would have been favored if Burks was suiting up for them. Burks will be difficult to replace, and quarterback KJ Jefferson could have a tough time beating the Penn State defense without his top receiver available.

Fenway Bowl: SMU Mustangs vs. Virginia Cavaliers

A pair of teammates in SMU receivers Reggie Roberson and Danny Gray will reportedly miss the inaugural Fenway Bowl. Gray led the team with 49 catches for 803 yards and nine touchdowns, and Roberson finished with 51 catches for 625 yards and six touchdowns. Rashee Rice and his 64 catches for 670 yards, and nine touchdowns will still be with the team, but standout quarterback Tanner Mordecai will not have his full complement of receivers to work with. However, against Virginia’s pass defense that ranks 86th in passing yards allowed, Mordecai should still be capable of leading SMU to a win.

Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Kyle Hamilton is set to be a top-five pick in the NFL draft as one of the most talented safety prospects we’ve seen in a long time. Hamilton was named a First Team All-American and finished the season with 34 tackles and three interceptions. As arguably the best defensive player in all of college football, his absence will be difficult to overcome for the Fighting Irish. Kyren Williams was the team’s leading rusher this season with 1,002 yards and 14 touchdowns, and his absence will be very problematic for the offense. With arguably the best player on each side of the ball for Notre Dame not playing, it isn’t easy to see how they win this game.

Peach Bowl: Pittsburgh vs. Michigan State

One of the most recent opt-outs we’ve heard of has been Kenneth Walker II, Michigan State’s standout running back, who won the Doak Walker Award and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award. Walker finished the season with 264 carries for 1,646 yards and 18 touchdowns. He was a borderline Heisman candidate for part of the season. It’s difficult to overstate how much his absence will impact the Michigan State offense. Their best hope to keep Kenny Pickett at bay in this game would have been running the ball and controlling possession, and that becomes much more difficult without Walker. We also now have an update that likely first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett will not be playing in this game. In his absence, Nick Patti will be the starting quarterback for this game. There’s no question that Pickett’s absence will limit Pitt’s offense considerably.

I've been a huge sports fan for as long as I can remember and I've always loved writing. In 2020, I joined the Lineups team, and I've been producing written and video content on football and basketball ever since. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. My goal is to tell enthralling stories and provide meaningful insight on the sports I write about while helping you cash some bets along the way.

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