ELIGIBILITY RULES LEAVE TOP NFL PROSPECTS WALKING A TIGHTROPE
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Midseason is no time for eulogies — still less from the coach of a team that has just won an important game. Yet Alabama Coach Nick Saban was distinctly funereal at one point after the Crimson Tide’s 33-14 win over Texas A&M on Saturday night.
“On a down note, Eddie Jackson has a fractured leg, and he will be out for the season,” Saban said, referring to his starting safety, who left the game in the fourth quarter after being tackled while returning a punt.
Saban added, “We’re certainly going to miss him, but what a great player, what a great competitor and what a great guy to have in this program for the time he’s been here.”
The past tense was appropriate because Jackson is a senior, in his fourth and final year of eligibility. Widely forecast as a first-round pick at the beginning of the season, he will now enter the N.F.L. draft.
A few hours later, and two states over, Leonard Fournette was making his own case for a high draft slot. Fournette, a Louisiana State junior running back who has been celebrated since his high school days in New Orleans, gashed Mississippi for 284 yards and three touchdowns on only 16 carries.