Texas A&M receiver Jeff Fuller hasn't said much about his decision to either forgo his senior season for the NFL draft or fulfill his eligibility as an Aggie.
On Monday, he finally opened up about his plans, which must be made known before a Jan. 15 deadline.
"I'm doing my best to kind of keep it not a distraction and just trying to focus on the bowl game, but it’s definitely there," Fuller said. "I’m definitely thinking about it."
Fuller set school records in 2010 with 983 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns, and took over as the program's all-time leader in touchdown receptions midway through the season. His teammate, Von Miller, went through this process a year ago, but elected to return to College Station, where he won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker.
"Von gave me a few pointers, I got to talk to [former Texas A&M and current Dallas Cowboy tight end] Martellus Bennett," Fuller said. He also met with coach Mike Sherman about the decision during pre-bowl practices in College Station. "It’s good to get a bunch of different views. Nobody’s going to just tell you anything wrong. Von told me either way, it’s a good decision."
The difference between Miller and Fuller is Texas A&M played in the Independence Bowl last year on Dec. 28, a full two-plus weeks before the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft.
Fuller's junior season won't be over until Friday, just eight days before the deadline.
"He got to go through the bowl game and have a lot more time to think about it," Fuller said. "This year, you kind of have to take time before and take some time after."
He hasn't received his grade back from the draft advisory committee, but the most serious conversations about his future will begin once his paperwork is returned. Every player's situation is different, but Fuller says the typical concerns are influencing his decision.
"Injuries come into play. This is the best [NFL Draft] receiving classes in decades. That comes into play. At least I feel like it’s one of the best receiving classes," he said.
And there's that other big buzzword: lockout. Players and owners are gridlocked over a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the old one, which runs out in March.
"I’ve heard it’s going to happen, I’ve heard it’s not going to happen," Fuller said.
Lockout or no lockout, there will be a draft. But there might not be an NFL season for all of 2011. Would-be rookies could be better off refining their skills on the field with the risk of career-altering injury, rather than checking the daily news for updates on when their careers will begin.
"You kind of go back and forth and think about it and it’s just really going to be one of those situations where you’ll have to sit by yourself," Fuller said. "Even my dad said, ‘The decision is on you.'"
Jeff Fuller, Sr. played six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980s before a spinal injury ended his career.
"This whole week has been about A&M and all about the Cotton Bowl," Fuller said. "That’s the only thing on my mind this week, but I’m not going to lie, it’s in the back of my head. But this is my main focus."