College football players sitting out bowl games in 2018

Back in 2016, it was a huge controversy when LSU running back Leonard Fournette and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, after declaring for the NFL draft, decided to skip their team’s bowl game.

At the time, both players were considered likely first-round draft choices (they both went in the top 10), and did not want to jeopardize their health with a huge payday coming around the corner. However, the decision was viewed by many as quitting on their teams. In the years since, this practice has gotten more popular among draft prospects and public opinion has massively swayed. Though some still don’t agree with it, most completely understand what is at stake for these unpaid athletes.

This year, we will keep an updated list of the players who decide not to play in their team’s bowl game. This list does not include NFL prospects who will miss a bowl game because of medical reasons.

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West Virginia QB Will Grier is one of several high-profile players skipping bowl games in preparation for the 2019 NFL Draft. (Getty)
West Virginia QB Will Grier is one of several high-profile players skipping bowl games in preparation for the 2019 NFL Draft. (Getty)

[Full 2018 college football bowl schedule, with dates, times and TV channels]

Thursday, Dec. 27

Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia: Baker, the 2018 Jim Thorpe Award winner, will not play in the Sugar Bowl. The senior is considered a potential first-round draft pick after having an All-American season for the Bulldogs. He totaled 40 tackles, two interceptions and 12 passes defended this season.

Thursday, Dec. 20

Karan Higdon, RB, Michigan: Higdon, Michigan’s leading rusher the past two seasons, announced his will not play in the Peach Bowl against Florida. Higdon, a senior, rushed for 1,178 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. For his career, Higdon totaled 2,616 yards and 27 touchdowns. Higdon will participate in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

Wednesday, Dec. 19

Ed Alexander, DL, LSU: Alexander, a junior defensive tackle, has decided to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft and foregoing his senior season. His mother told that he will not play in the Fiesta Bowl vs. UCF.

Justin Layne, DB, Michigan State: Layne, a junior who declared for the draft last week, will not play for the Spartans in the Redbox Bowl. Layne was tied for the Big Ten lead in passes defended (16) and pass breakups (15). MSU coach Mark Dantonio said Layne’s decision is “disappointing.”

“Everybody these days has a different philosophy on how these things are working out,” Dantonio said per the Detroit Free Press. “My philosophy is you finish – you finish the season, and that includes bowl games and playoff games. Other people feel differently. It doesn’t mean I’m right and they’re wrong, it’s just a difference of philosophy.”

Monday, Dec. 17

Bryce Love, RB, Stanford: Love, the 2017 Heisman Trophy runner-up, dealt with a variety of injuries throughout the season and has decided to skip the Sun Bowl vs. Pittsburgh. After putting up 2,118 yards on 8.1 yards per carry last year, Love was limited to 739 yards and 4.5 yards per carry this season for the Cardinal. For more on Love, click here.

Saturday, Dec. 15

Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis: Memphis coach Mike Norvell confirmed that Henderson, who finished 10th in Heisman voting, will not play in the Birmingham Bowl vs. Wake Forest. Henderson, who declared for the NFL, finished his junior season with 1,909 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns with an 8.9-yard average.

Tuesday, Dec. 11

Blake Cashman, LB, Minnesota: Cashman, a second team all-Big Ten selection, led the Gophers with with 104 tackles and also had 15 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He becomes the second Minnesota player to skip the Quick Lane Bowl.

Saturday, Dec. 8

Will Grier, QB, West Virginia: The first big-name quarterback to announce he’ll bypass bowl season, Grier set personal career highs with 3,864 passing yards, 37 touchdowns (to only eight interceptions), and a 175.5 QB rating in his senior year at West Virginia. He’ll skip the Camping World Bowl against Syracuse. Grier, who some believe will be a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL draft, explained his decision with a letter to WVU fans.

Friday, Dec. 7

Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia: Cajuste won’t play in the Camping World Bowl against Syracuse. He was a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2018 and a two-year starter on West Virginia’s offensive line.

Thursday, Dec. 6

Donnell Greene, OT, Minnesota: According to the Pioneer Press, Greene signed with an agent after undergoing knee surgery for a meniscus injury. As a result, the senior left tackle will sit out the Quick Lane Bowl against Georgia Tech. The 6-foot-7, 320-pound Greene started 29 games in his Minnesota career.

Wednesday, Dec. 5

Germaine Pratt, LB, NC State: Pratt, an all-ACC selection, was second in the conference this season with 104 tackles. He missed the season finale against UNC while nursing an injury and now will sit out the Gator Bowl vs. Texas A&M like his teammate Kelvin Harmon.

Monday, Dec. 3

Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina: Whenever he’s been healthy Samuel has been a big-play threat as a receiver and returner for South Carolina. He finishes his career with 148 catches for 2,076 yards and 29 total touchdowns, including four kickoff returns. Samuel won’t play in the Belk Bowl vs. Virginia.

Kelvin Harmon, WR, NC State: Harmon led the ACC this season with 1,186 receiving yards and was tied for third with 81 catches. His 177 career receptions for 2,665 yards rank fourth and third in NC State history, respectively. He will sit out the Gator Bowl vs. Texas A&M.

N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State: In three seasons, Harry totaled 213 catches for 2,889 yards. Both marks rank third in Arizona State program history. He won’t play in the Las Vegas Bowl vs. Fresno State.

Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State: For his career, Hill rushed for 3,539 yards and 30 TDs on 632 attempts — all rank No. 7 in school history. Hill, who missed OSU’s last two games with injuries, will sit out the Liberty Bowl vs. Missouri.

Sunday, Dec. 2

Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan: In three seasons at Michigan, Gary combined for 119 tackles, 23 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. Gary, the nation’s top recruit in 2016, missed three games earlier this season with a shoulder injury and now will sit out the Peach Bowl vs. Florida.

Greedy Williams, CB, LSU: After redshirting his first year, Williams emerged as one of the nation’s top cornerbacks in 2017 when he intercepted six passes for the Tigers. This year, Williams totaled 33 tackles and two interceptions. He won’t play in the Fiesta Bowl vs. UCF.

Friday, Nov. 30

Ed Oliver, DL, Houston: Oliver, who declared for the draft before his junior season, had 54 tackles and 14.5 tackles for loss in eight games for Houston. He missed multiple games with a knee injury. For his career, Oliver totaled 192 tackles, 53 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. He won’t play in the Armed Forces Bowl vs. Army.

Noah Fant, TE, Iowa: In three seasons at Iowa, Fant caught 78 passes for 1,082 yards and 19 touchdowns. He could be the first tight end selected in the 2019 draft. Fant will skip the Outback Bowl vs. Mississippi State.