Monday served two purposes in the college football world: It marked the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft, and it provided the first true roster reveal for the 2016-17 college season.
Consider the information coaches already know: the seniors from 2015-16 who have exhausted their eligibility and departed; players who won't use a fifth year of eligibility; incoming transfers (graduate and junior college); outgoing transfers; and early enrollees. For all the fuss we make about national signing day, if a team is truly pinning its hopes on teenagers who sign Feb. 3 and arrive sometime in June or July, that squad probably won't have a very good record in November.
There will be important roster movement between Monday and the season opener -- Oregon's addition of quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. in August 2015 is proof -- but the draft deadline truly lets teams know where they stand.
Over 100 underclassmen made the jump this year, up from 74 in 2015. Some programs were hit harder than others. In examining the biggest losers and winners at the draft deadline, we put greater emphasis on total number of departures and somewhat unexpected departures than on players widely projected to be drafted in the first round who made the right (and expected) decision to bolt.
Here's a look:
Ohio State: From "9 strong" to nine gone. An exodus was inevitable after Ohio State lost no underclassmen to the draft from its national championship team a year ago. But even coach Urban Meyer seemed surprised to lose nine players. The biggest hits come on defense, as the Buckeyes lose standouts at all three levels, including defensive end Joey Bosa, the possible No. 1 overall pick in April. The Silver Bullets also lose linebacker Darron Lee, among their top big-game players the past two years. Top running back Ezekiel Elliott (1,821 rush yards, 23 touchdowns) and leading wide receiver Michael Thomas (56 receptions, 781 yards, nine touchdowns) depart the offense.
Clemson: Defensive coordinator Brent Venables oversaw a masterful rebuild after losing two eventual first-round picks (Vic Beasley and Stephone Anthony) and others from last year's unit. An even more daunting challenge awaits, as Clemson must replace six underclassmen from a defense that helped the Tigers reach the national title game. The Tigers lose their top two defensive ends (Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd), their starting safeties (Jayron Kearse and T.J. Green), their top cornerback (Mackensie Alexander) and a talented linebacker (Travis Blanks). Clemson got some good news on deadline day, as cornerback Cordrea Tankersley and defensive tackle Carlos Watkins are coming back. The offense regains top running back Wayne Gallman and top tight end Jordan Leggett.
UCLA: The moves began in October, with linebacker Myles Jack announcing he would jump to the draft after suffering a season-ending knee injury. They continued before the Foster Farms Bowl as offensive lineman Alex Redmond left the team and signed with an agent. And they continued after a disappointing end to a disappointing season, as defensive tackle Kenny Clark, running back Paul Perkins, wide receiver Thomas Duarte and offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch all declared. UCLA will bring back offensive lineman Conor McDermott and linebacker Deon Hollins, but it has a lot of holes to fill.
Arkansas: The Hogs ended the season playing like the team they hoped to be entering the fall. Their depth and development will be tested after losing three underclassmen to the draft, plus running back Jonathan Williams, who lost his final season to injury before it began. Arkansas must replace star tight end Hunter Henry, versatile offensive lineman Denver Kirkland and running backs Alex Collins and Williams. Collins moved into a featured role after Williams went down in August and rushed for 1,577 yards and 20 touchdowns.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers lost only two underclassmen, but both were valuable and both might have been wise to remain in Morgantown. Wendell Smallwood led the Big 12 in rushing (1,519 yards) as a junior. While running backs are prone to early exits and can benefit from them, Smallwood could have improved his stock with another season at WVU. Cornerback Daryl Worley led the Big 12 in passes defended (18) and ranked second in interceptions (six) after a strong finish. But the cornerback class is deep, and Worley might not be among the first batch selected. West Virginia certainly will miss both players entering 2016.
Notre Dame: It has been 22 years since Notre Dame last produced a top-10 draft pick (Bryant Young) and four years since the Irish had multiple first-round selections (Michael Floyd and Harrison Smith). One or both of those streaks could end in April after offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley and linebacker Jaylon Smith both declared, as expected. But Notre Dame also loses top wide receiver Will Fuller and top running back C.J. Prosise. While Prosise projects very well to the next level, Fuller seemed likelier to remain in South Bend for another season. Cornerback KeiVarae Russell also makes the jump after an up-and-down 2015 season. Notre Dame has plenty of holes to fill it if wants to make a playoff push in the fall.
Michigan: While the Wolverines' archrival loses one-third of its depth chart to early entries, Michigan brings back several key pieces who could have jumped. Jourdan Lewis (20 pass breakups) opted to stay after a breakout 2015 season and will enter 2016 as one of the nation's top cornerbacks. Tight end Jake Butt (51 receptions, 654 yards) will be among the favorites for the John Mackey Award this fall. Michigan also regains defensive end Chris Wormley but loses a big piece up front, as defensive tackle Willie Henry opted to enter the draft.
LSU: Remember when LSU lost 17 underclassmen to the draft in 2013-14? The early exits have slowed considerably, and the Tigers had only two, offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins and cornerback Rashard Robinson, this year. Cornerback Tre'Davious White, whom many pegged as a sure departure before the season, is staying. Talented pass-rusher Lewis Neal and linebacker Kendell Beckwith also are back. Center Ethan Pocic and wide receiver Travin Dural are coming back as LSU's unbalanced offense seeks a passing spark. Perhaps the best news for the Tigers is running back Leonard Fournette couldn't come out of college this year and will try to finish his Heisman Trophy pursuit this time around.
Louisville: Early entries might gut Clemson's defense, but Louisville's will be mostly intact for a 2016 season filled with promise. Four Cardinals defenders announced Jan. 7 that they would remain in school, none more important than outside linebacker Devonte Fields, who tied for the national lead in tackles for loss with 22.5 and had 11 sacks. Louisville also brings back leading tackler Keith Kelsey and safety Josh Harvey-Clemons, who recorded three interceptions in 2015. Ten starters return on offense, including quarterback Lamar Jackson, so Louisville has the pieces in place to challenge Clemson and Florida State.
Alabama: There's no minimizing the loss of Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry or disruptive defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson. But most Alabama fans would accept losing only two underclassmen from a national championship-winning team. Powerful pass rusher Jonathan Allen is coming back, a pleasant surprise for the Tide, and he'll have plenty of help on the edge as Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams are returning to school. The nation's No. 3 scoring defense also brings back linebacker Reuben Foster and safety Eddie Jackson, and Alabama's next quarterback will benefit from having tight end O.J. Howard on the field despite his record performance in the title game.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes didn't have many underclassmen candidates to go pro, but they kept the most important one in town with cornerback Desmond King. It's rare to see a cornerback as decorated as King, the 2015 Jim Thorpe Award winner, pass up the chance to go to the draft. He will anchor an Iowa defense that regains most of its key components, including linebacker Josey Jewell. Quarterback C.J. Beathard could enhance his NFL stock as a senior after a strong debut this past season as the Hawkeyes' triggerman.
Tennessee: Everyone knows this is "The Year for Butch Jones" at Tennessee. Fortunately, he'll have the pieces to make a run at an SEC title. The Vols didn't have many early-entry candidates, but linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin and cornerback Cam Sutton both are returning, big boosts for new defensive coordinator Bob Shoop. Reeves-Maybin led Tennessee in both total tackles (105) and tackles for loss (14), while Sutton had an interception, two forced fumbles and six pass breakups. Wide receiver Marquez North departs, but running back Alvin Kamara's return should soften that blow.