XFL reiterates its willingness to sign players not eligible for NFL, AAF

Mike Florio
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

The XFL will make a splash on Thursday with the announcement that Bob Stoops will coach the Dallas franchise. So when will the XFL sign a player whose presence will raise eyebrows?

It could happen when the XFL offers significant (or, you know, any) pay to a college player otherwise too young to enter the NFL draft, or to sign with the AAF. Last week in Atlanta, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck reiterated the position that the upstart league can, and presumably will, pursue players who aren’t yet eligible for the other major professional leagues.

“We certainly believe that we have the ability to sign a guy that’s been out of high school for a year or two years or has played college ball and for whatever reason — academic ineligibility or needs to make some money or is transferring — doesn’t want to sit out a year,” Luck said. “We think there’s the possibility of taking some of those guys. How many? And how do we do that? We haven’t really figured that out yet. I want to get our eight head coaches on board before we make any sort of policy decisions in that regard. But I can almost guarantee that we’ll take a deep look into a lot players who might be two years or one year out of high school.”

The first candidate could be Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who remains two years away from eligibility for the NFL draft. He could spend one more year at Clemson, and then join the XFL next February. Alternatively, he could skip the 2019 college season, play (and get paid) in the XFL for 2020 and 2021, and head straight to the draft.

It’s a fascinating prospect, one that could potentially turn the current college model upside down, if enough players choose to get paid to play over not getting paid. At some point, the NCAA, the NFL, and/or the AAF may have to adjust — and if that adjustment means more kids getting fair compensation for their efforts and sacrifices, good.

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