Six Seven Six (see updates) players, three from each side, who participated in the BCS National Championship Game are leaving early to go to the NFL.
The national champs are losing Trent Richardson, Dont'a Hightower, and Dre Kirkpatrick. All three are likely to be first round picks, and CBS's draft board currently has both Richardson and Kirkpatrick as top ten picks. Richardson would have been one of the preseason favorites for next year's Heisman Trophy after being a finalist this year, but it's tough to ever recommend NFL-ready running backs forgo the draft given the pounding they take and the relatively short careers they have on the next level.
Meanwhile, LSU has lost three of its own non-seniors. Russell Shepard announced his intention to go pro yesterday, and Morris Claiborne and DT Michael Brockers will announce the same today. CBS has Claiborne a top five pick, and it's quoting one draft watcher who predicts that Brockers will be the first defensive lineman off the board.
Shepard is not projected highly at all after low production in his years in Baton Rouge, but he took to Twitter today to complain about his usage and otherwise defend himself. This is just a couple days after he complained about only seeing the field for three plays in Monday night's championship game. Shepard is clearly unhappy with the offense LSU ran this year, and he might be able to sneak in the later rounds with an impressive showing at the Combine.
As for others, Bama's Robert Lester will stay in school, following the lead of D.J. Fluker (who said so back in December). LSU's Sam Montgomery is also staying in school, something he announced last week, and we're still waiting on word about Reuben Randle.
Scout.com's Shea Dixon is reporting that Randle is also heading to the draft.
Shepard is staying at LSU after all. Wow.