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A change to the NFL draft process will give players like USC star quarterback Caleb Williams an extra chance to show their skills.
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the league informed teams on Wednesday that underclassmen will now be eligible to play in college football All-Star games.
Pelissero added that the change will be put in place immediately for the 2024 NFL draft class.
“Upon the NFL publicly announcing that a player has been granted special eligibility, the East-West Shrine Bowl, HBCU Legacy Bowl, and Senior Bowl may invite such players to participate in their respective game activities,” the league stated in a memo. “Only these three games are permitted to invite underclassmen to participate.”
In recent years, there’s been a growing trend of players who declare for the draft opting to sit out their teams’ respective bowl games. Players such as Anthony Richardson, Will Levis and Bijan Robinson were among those who didn’t participate in the postseason last year.
The All-Star games present a different attraction, as players have the opportunity to work directly with NFL coaches. Per NFL.com, the league “provides the coaching staff, game officials and four Legends captains” for the East-West Shrine Bowl, and “two NFL clubs equip each team with full coaching, training, video and equipment staffs to support” the Senior Bowl.
It will be interesting to see how players who are preparing for the draft navigate the bowl schedule and the All-Star games now that the pool has widened to include underclassmen. The East-West Shrine Bowl will take place on Feb. 1, followed by the Senior Bowl on Feb. 3 and the HBCU Legacy Bowl on Feb. 24.