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College Work Still Incomplete

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Clemson QB Tajh Boyd was among the few prominent draft-eligible prospects who elected to return to school for the 2013 season. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images.
Clemson QB Tajh Boyd was among the few prominent draft-eligible prospects who elected to return to school for the 2013 season. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images.

An unprecedented number of underclassmen – 73, to be precise – declared their early candidacy for the 2013 NFL Draft. Fifty of them were drafted, 15 of them went in the first round.

Almost forgotten in that overflowing fountain of youth is that fact that some draft eligible players actually went back to college.

Tajh Boyd returned. So did Taylor Lewan. And Louis Nix III.

Jake Matthews, for instance, would have been a top-20 pick had he come out as a junior. Instead, he opted to go back to Texas A&M for the chance to move to left tackle, share time on the offensive line with his brother, Mike, the Aggies’ starting center, and protect Johnny Football’s Heisman Second Act. Now, he’s likely to wind up a top-five pick.

The reasons most players give for returning to campus sound good – “I want to get my diploma” or “Our job’s not done here.” But the truth is, it’s often a business decision. Nobody really turns down NFL cash for college credit.

Here are five interesting examples of players who came back for the right reasons – to improve their game and, accordingly, their draft stock.