Earlier Tuesday, Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus announced he would skip his senior year and enter the NFL Draft. Now, it appears Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff is following suit.
Just as with Mercilus, this move is a no-brainer. According to draft projections, Reiff is the top NFL prospect in the league and could go among the top-10 picks this April. The 6-foot-6, 300-pound All-Big Ten performer has the size and athleticism pro scouts drool over, and there's no real reason for him to return to school.
Losing Reiff will be a blow to the Hawkeyes' offense, but they had to see this one coming for a long time. The last time they had to replace a first-round pick at tackle was when Reiff took over for Bryan Bulaga.
And Reiff isn't the only Iowa offensive player leaving.
Running back Mika'il McCall told the Cedar Rapids Gazette on Tuesday night that he would not return to the program. The freshman had been suspended following the Purdue game and was not available for the Insight Bowl. He ran for 61 yards in the season opener but hurt his ankle and was out for the next nine weeks. Iowa could have used McCall in the bowl after starter Marcus Coker was suspended. Coker's future is uncertain at this point.
But Iowa's troubles at the running back spot received a boost when highly-touted recruit Greg Garmon reportedly committed to the Hawkeyes. ESPN.com ranks the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Garmon as a four-star prospect. The Erie, Pa., product is ranked as the 30th best running back in the class of 2012.