The newly rebooted XFL isn’t supposed to kick off until 2020, but speculation over whether young college football stars could possibly enter the NFL rival ramped up Tuesday.
An XFL spokesman asserted to Pro Football Talk that the league will not follow the NFL’s draft eligibility rules, which state a player must have been out of high school for at least three years and used up their eligibility prior to the start of the following college football season. Underclassmen need the approval to enter the draft early.
“The XFL's player eligibility guidelines are in development,” the spokesman told the football-centric website. “The XFL is not restricted by the rules that exist in other professional football leagues.”
XFL commissioner Oliver Luck also addressed the league’s eligibility rules in December on the “Sports Business Radio Road Show.” Luck said the league would have to make a careful decision and didn’t exactly rule strict eligibility rules.
“Nor would I rule out taking a player who played a year of college football and let’s say isn’t eligible academically, which happens. Or a player who is two years out of college, and is transferring, and would have to sit out a year. A lot of guys don’t want to.... We are in that position to be able to take players who wouldn’t be eligible to play in the NFL.
“But that’s an option that we have and we’re going to look at it long and hard. There are a lot of very good college players after a year or two who may not want to play that third year of college football, may need to earn a little money, support the family. That’s not uncommon as well.”
Curiosity over young college players’ eligibility came into question after Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence became the first true freshman quarterback to lead his team to a national championship in 33 years. Several people appeared to clamor for the NFL to change its draft rules so Lawrence could enter.
The 19-year-old stud quarterback still has two years of eligibility remaining.
However, with the emergence of the XFL, Lawrence could opt to leave the Tigers after the 2019 season and join the XFL for the start of the 2020 season. A high-profile quarterback would draw significant interest to the upstart league, which is not only competing against the NFL but trying to bounce back from a disastrous one and done season in 2001.