FOOTBALL

Myes away

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

It's perfectly understandable for a player to decide that he has accomplished all that he wants to accomplish in school and choose to leave the program early for the NFL Draft--especially if he's a sure-fire first-round pick.

However, there's a proper way to do it, and the route UCLA's Myles Jack took wasn't it.

The Bruins' "Mr. Everything" has carried the team on both sides of the ball for the past three seasons.

In addition to being a star linebacker, Jack was also a productive running back for UCLA. Back in 2013, he actually rushed for 267 yards and seven touchdowns.

But it's at linebacker where Jack was at his best. In a little more than two years of playing, he racked up 178 career tackles with four interceptions.

In 2015, Jack was off to another great season, but that was all ended a couple of weeks ago when he tore a ligament in his knee at a Bruin practice. The injury will sideline him for the rest of the season.

Instead of waiting for the year to officially come to a close, Jack wasted no time in not only declaring that he would be forgoing his senior season for the NFL Draft, but he would be immediately leaving UCLA.

Jack said that he is ready to get paid for his play.

He said, "When you see people making money off of your likeness and your name...nobody else wears No. 30 at UCLA. That jersey is mine. I would like to receive compensation for what I've done."

That makes a lot of sense. Over the years, I've been unquestionably sympathetic to the plight of student athletes.

It is wrong how the schools make millions off of their backs and gives them nothing in return. It's wrong how their jerseys are sold for money, and they get nothing in return.

It's wrong that they are not allowed to capitalize on financial opportunities like endorsements or commercials if offered. So, I definitely see where Jack is coming from here.

Before the season began, Jack was being projected as a first-round draft pick, and he has had two full seasons as a starter on UCLA's defense.

Therefore, I see no problem whatsoever in him choosing the NFL over staying at UCLA for his senior season.

My problem isn't with what Jack did, it's with how he decided to do it.

Jack won't be making any money until he is drafted in April, so why the rush to leave school?

I realize that he can no longer help his team on the field. I realize all he can do now is stand on the sideline, but I still have a problem with him turning his back on his teammates midway through the season.

One of his quotes really says it all.

Jack said, "I felt like I had done enough at UCLA, and I felt like this was my chance. This was my shot. Why not go for it? And really just focus on football. Focus on myself."

That's the problem here. He is thinking about himself, but he has totally given the cold shoulder to his teammates.

Even though he can no longer contribute on the field, it's just not a good look to ditch the school at this point.

He needs to be on the sideline supporting his teammates. He needs to be around to pass his knowledge on to the younger players. He needs to be there to show the players that he actually cares about them.

April's draft isn't going anywhere. The contract he'll be getting awarded, it's not going anywhere.

I also understand how a guy that knows he will be playing in the NFL at this time next year might not want to be bothered by school work. He might see going to class as pointless at this point.

Still, for the sake of his team, he could have gutted it out until the end of the semester.

It's not like he was paying tuition. It's not like he was going to get into trouble for skipping class, or failing tests or not handing in projects.

Once the season comes to a close in late December/early January, by all means, make your exit and start getting ready for the draft. Until then, you stay and support the guys that supported you for three years.