Underclassmen Allowed to Play in All-Star Games

Underclassmen Allowed to Play in College All-Star Games

Frank Coyle/ Publisher

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The NFL Informs Teams NFL Draft-eligible Underclassmen Allowed to Play in College All-Star Games

NFL office announced this week that any underclassman granted eligibility for the 2024 NFL Draft can be invited to play in the East-West Shrine Bowl, HBCU Legacy Bowl and Senior Bowl. No other all-star game is allowed by the league to invite underclassmen.

This is a significant change to the pre-draft process that should help provide a platform for prospects who often don’t declare until late in the offseason. Current Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy will implement the new conditions for building rosters for the All-star classic. Other directors will also expand their scouting to accommodate the new rules which can

NFL Deadline for underclassmen to declare for NFL Draft 2024 – Monday, January 15th

The underclassmen have had a smaller window to expose their skills to NFL scouts. In the past, underclassmen not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine relied on school pro days and private workouts leading up to the NFL Draft when seeking an audience of scouts.

The past few years also have seen a downturn in the number of underclassmen granted special eligibility. It hit a high-water mark in 2018, when 106 underclassmen were approved, but that number has fallen since – from 99 in 2021 to 73 in 2022 and 69 in 2023.

There have been sweeping changes in college athletics over that span, with the proliferation of NIL deals and the transfer portal opening up more opportunities for college athletes.

Former Senior Bowl director Phil Savage (2021-2018) initiated admitting fourth-year juniors who have completed their degrees during this tenure at the Senior Bowl. The vast majority of underclassmen were previously ineligible to play in all-star events.

The deadline for underclassmen to apply for special eligibility for the 2024 NFL Draft is Jan. 15.

The East-West Shrine Bowl is scheduled to be played on Thursday, Feb. 1 and the Senior Bowl is to be held on Saturday, Feb. 3. The HBCU Legacy Bowl is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 24. All three games will be broadcast on NFL Network. The NFLPA game has been eliminated and integrated into the Senior Bowl event.

Feb. 27 -March 4
NFL Scouting Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

Frank Coyle is a long-time scout with nationwide ties with NFL and college coaches, scouts and player agents. He is a member of the FWAA and voter in major college player awards – Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Lombardi, Thorpe, Biletnikoff etc. for the past 30 years. He writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season. He was a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He does sports radio shows for CBS and ESPN on a year-round basis related to NFL and College Football especially during the postseason team and All-star Bowl time. He has worked for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Yahoo and Rivals sports publications and web sites


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