Penn State standout defensive end Aaron Maybin and Pitt tailback LeSean McCoy had two years of eligibility remaining but opted to leave school early and take a shot at the NFL draft.
As it turns out, that gamble paid off for Maybin in a big way as he was selected 11th overall by the Buffalo Bills. But McCoy's gamble was a costly one as he was not selected in the first round and thus will have to wait a few years before he has a chance to see a big signing bonus.
If there is a silver lining for McCoy, however, it is that he won't be that far from his hometown of Harrisburg. His family's commute to his NFL games will be shorter than their commute to his college games.
McCoy, who was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 21st pick of the second round (53rd overall), likely will get a signing bonus in the neighborhood of $1 million but potentially might have cost himself as much as $30 million to $40 million (a typical signing bonus for a top-10 pick) by coming out a year early.
Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins took what some would consider to be a gamble in the second round, but it is one with potentially a very big payoff.
The Dolphins selected West Virginia quarterback Pat White with the 12th pick of the second round (44th overall), and his selection caused a great debate among NFL analysts on ESPN and the NFL Network about what position he will play.
Given the Dolphins' current quarterback situation, it is clear that White will, at least initially, begin his career as something other than a full-time quarterback.
It is likely he will fit into the Dolphins' "Wildcat" packages in some capacity and may also be used as a returner and some at receiver.
White led West Virginia to a record of 34-8 as a starter. He completed 64.8 percent of his passes and he threw for 6,058 yards and 56 touchdowns. He also rushed for 4,480 yards and 47 touchdowns. He is also the only quarterback in Division I-A history to lead his team to four bowl victories.
"Yes, sir," White told the Miami Herald when asked about how he might fit into the wildcat formations. "I've definitely heard a little bit about the wildcat, and I'm excited to be a part of it."
Maybin was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the first round (11th overall) of the NFL draft and stands to earn a huge paycheck considering former Florida defensive end Derek Harvey was the 11th pick (Jacksonville) of the draft a year ago and signed a five-year, $33 million contract which included a $17 million signing bonus.
Beyond the money, the Bills' selection of Maybin is, at least according to some, a bit of a surprise because they play a 4-3 defense.
Maybin, because of his size (6 feet 3, 253 pounds), was considered by some to be too small to play the traditional defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, but his pass-rushing ability and athleticism made him a perfect fit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
Even Maybin was somewhat surprised by the fact that the Bills selected him, but he's happy, particularly since he'll have a few familiar faces waiting for him in Buffalo.
"It was just as much as a surprise to me as everybody else," Maybin said. "I will say that I was very, very, very happy to get that phone call and see that it was Buffalo at the other end of the line. It's a great opportunity for me and I'm coming into a situation where I'm going to get a chance to play with some Penn State guys out there. They've got Paul Posluszny and Bryan Scott on the team right now."
But in being selected by Buffalo, Maybin will have an opportunity to play his natural position of defensive end and focus on what he does best -- rush passers.
Maybin spent only one year as a full-time starter for the Nittany Lions but he certainly made the most of it as he led the team with 12 sacks, 20 tackles for losses and he also forced a team-high three fumbles.
And one thing that should be pointed out is that Maybin did add 20 pounds since the end of Penn State's season in order to make himself more of a defensive end prospect than he would have been had he stayed at his playing weight of 232.
"I'm doing a lot more physically for my body, a lot of different type of training than I was doing at Penn State," Maybin said yesterday via teleconference with media members. "I've just responded well. I've been able to carry the weight well and the coaches were happy when I went out there with how I looked and how I was able to perform at the combine and at the pro day.
"And I'm just anxious, I'm excited about the possibilities."
One of the reasons the Bills selected Maybin is they desperately are hoping Maybin's pass rushing ability is as good as advertised.
Buffalo had only 24 sacks, which ranked 28th out of 32 teams in the NFL and their co-leaders in sacks, Ryan Denney and Kawicka Mitchell, had only four sacks each.
For comparison's sake, Steelers standouts James Harrison (16) and LaMarr Woodley (10Â 1/2) combined for 2Â 1/2 more sacks than the Bills did as a team, and the Steelers had four players record more than four sacks.
Maybin was a consensus first-team All-American and a finalist for the Bednarik and Hendricks awards. He also was a first-team All-Big Ten Conference selection.
McCoy, who had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, reportedly was on the Eagles' radar all along as their coach, Andy Reid, had said on several occasions that he was a perfect fit in their offense. He is similar in size and style to current starting Eagles tailback Bryant Westbrook.
He is the seventh Pitt player to be selected in the first or second round since 2000 and he is the fourth (of six) early entry candidates in that span to be selected that high as well.
Paul Zeise can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1720.