Texas A&M's Myles Garrett jokes about Leonard Fournette sitting out bowl game

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Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett could be the top pick in the 2017 NFL draft. (AP)
Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett could be the top pick in the 2017 NFL draft. (AP)

Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett is in basically the same situation as Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette.

McCaffrey and Fournette, star running backs at Stanford and LSU, have opted not to participate in their team’s bowl games to begin preparing (read: not get injured) for the NFL and its draft process. McCaffrey and Fournette, both juniors, are considered to be potential first-round picks.

Garrett, another underclassman, is even more highly-regarded. He could go No. 1 overall, but said in a statement Monday he will play for the Aggies in the Texas Bowl against Kansas State on Dec. 28.

Garrett was asked Tuesday if he could understand the decisions made by McCaffrey and Fournette. When answering, Garrett took a lighthearted jab at Fournette, saying Fournette has had his eyes set on the NFL “since his sophomore year.”

Fournette, like Garrett, was a five-star prospect in the 2014 recruiting cycle (Garrett was No. 2 overall in the Rivals100, Fournette was No. 4). Both had immediate impacts as freshmen and have carried over that production into this season. Fournette ran for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns last year, but has been hampered by an ankle injury all season (he rushed for 843 yards in seven games).

Fournette, who has already signed with Roc Nation as representation, pointed to the lingering ankle issue when explaining why he won’t play in the Citrus Bowl against Louisville. Though he dealt with unspecified injuries during the year, McCaffrey played at a high level down the stretch and was seemingly healthy entering the Sun Bowl.

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Garrett made it clear he understands the logic behind the choice not to play in a bowl. Per the Houston Chronicle, he even discussed the possibility with his dad, but decided he’d rather take the field one last time with his teammates (assuming he does indeed declare for the draft).

From the Chronicle:

Garrett was just having a little fun with an old acquaintance – he and Fournette were two of the top four high-school recruits in the class of 2014 – but A&M’s star defender added that he has “to finish off this season strong.”

“I’m not going to bring any extra attention to myself, and we’ll all just focus in one on direction,” Garrett said.

Garrett said his father said perhaps he should follow Fournette’s lead and consider not playing in the bowl in avoiding possible further injury – Garrett played on a bum ankle for much of the season – but Garrett said that wasn’t a consideration, adding that he’s still not 100 percent healthy.

In Fournette’s case, it’s been well-documented he has come from a disadvantaged background. Anybody doubting his motivation should be quieted with these tweets:

And on top of that, the case of Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith is a prudent comparison. Smith was considered a surefire top 10 pick last season until he tore up his knee during the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State. Though he has said he would play in the game again if he could do it all over again, the injury precipitated a drop to the second round. That drop in the draft is equivalent to millions in guaranteed money lost.

Business-wise, the move for both McCaffrey and Fournette is wise. The question whether it starts a trend is valid, too. For presumed first-round talent (at skill positions, especially) playing in middle-of-the-road bowl games, it certainly could be.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!