Miami’s bid for another run at the national championship next year will come without two of its top playmakers, both of whom decided to bolt to the NFL.
Junior wide receiver Andre Johnson’s departure had been expected. But sophomore tailback Willis McGahee’s decision came as a surprise.
McGahee, a Heisman trophy finalist who set school records with 1,753 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns, seemed destined to return to the ‘Canes next season after tearing two ligaments in his knee in the Fiesta Bowl. He also was named first team All-American and a finalist for the Doak Walker Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year Award.
But McGahee chose to take his chances in the NFL by announcing to CBS-4 on Monday that he has opted to forgo his final two years of eligibility at UM.
“It was something I prayed on and something I discussed with my family,” McGahee told CBS-4. “I feel I can go up to the next level and give it my best I was told I can make a 100 percent recovery and that’s what I am planning on doing. It was my childhood dream and I am going to fulfill my dream.”
McGahee suffered the injury with only 10 minutes remaining in the Fiesta Bowl. After catching a screen pass from Ken Dorsey, McGahee turned up field before he was tackled by Ohio State cornerback Will Allen.
McGahee underwent surgery the following day at Health South Doctors Hospital where doctors repaired his torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments and gave him a positive prognosis.
But McGahee, once projected to go as high as the first round before his injury and command big money, now looks to a long rehabilitation. It is most likely that he will be placed on injured reserve for his first year in the pros – lowering his draft prospects — and salary — considerably.
There is no question that McGahee’s injury has cost him millions of dollars in the immediate future. And while it is uncertain he will ever be the same football payer he was before the injury, he is still expected to go somewhere in the mid-rounds of the draft when pro teams who have an extra pick to spare may choose to take a chance on him.
If he is unable to return to football however, McGahee is poised to collect $2.5 million from an insurance policy he took out before the Fiesta Bowl game. The policy states that if McGahee is unable to play football again he can collect the money one year from the date of injury (Jan. 3). He is allowed to play in three pro games before the policy becomes void.
Johnson’s decision to turn pro was expected even before the season began. During his three years at Miami, he has emerged as a premiere receiver in college football. This season he caught 52 passes for 1,092 yards and nine touchdowns. In last year’s Rose Bowl, Johnson shared MVP honors with quarterback Ken Dorsey after catching seven balls for 199 yards and two touchdowns – all career bests.
At 6’3, 227 pounds, Johnson fits the mold of a prototypical NFL receiver. With Michigan State’s Charles Rogers expected to be the first receiver taken in the draft, Johnson could go second or third. But he is still expected to be a first round choice.
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