I have a new nickname for Weslye Saunders. Woeful Wes. The past year has been rather tough for Saunders. In fact, it has been flat out deplorable. Going into the 2010 college football season, the former South Carolina Gamecocks Tight End was predicted to be one of, if not the, best TEs in the country. TEs do not usually get drafted in the first round, but Saunders, who was named to the Lombardi Award Fall Watch List, had the potential to be a Day 1 pick.
Saunders was unable to play in his senior season. He was suspended and removed from the South Carolina football team. Saunders violated team rules, received improper benefits including heavily discounted rates at a South Carolina hotel, and made improper contact with an agent. His good friend, Marvin Austin, also sat out the 2010 college football season, yet Austin appeared in the East-West Shrine Game and has been invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. While Austin might have been a top pick had he played last year, NFLDraftScout.com still projects him as a 2-3 rounder.
Woeful Wes won’t get drafted, though. That is because he is not eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft, after failing to file the proper paperwork to petition his acceptance into the Draft pool in time. He also will not be at the NFL Scouting Combine, but not because he was not invited. Instead, he declined his invitation.
I find it hard to believe that Woeful Wes does not want to play professional football. I assume that he enjoys playing the game and also would not mind the payday. So what could have happened here? Did he and his advisors not realize that players who miss their senior seasons have to file special paperwork with the league to be included in the Draft? And why not attend the NFL Scouting Combine?
I reached out to Fletcher Smith of Blueprint Sports Group, who I had believed was Saunders’ agent. He corrected me, and notified me that Saunders’ current agent is Butch Williams, who has his own law firm in North Carolina. The clients listed on his website are Anthony Cannon, Alge Crumpler, Greg Ellis, Alex Hall, and Lance Long. I emailed Butch to ask him a few questions regarding the non-filing of necessary paperwork for Saunders to be included in the draft. I have not received a response. Apparently, Saunders could be held out of the draft due to bad advice.
Saunders never put in the paperwork because he received an invitation from the NFL to the combine on Jan. 3, [Butch] Williams said, and interpreted the invitation as a sign he didn’t need a waiver.
It could be a very costly error for Williams, as well. Saunders has been training at Athletes Performance (one of the most expensive training programs) in McKinney, Texas. Williams has likely been footing the bill for Saunders’ training expenses. And we all know that many agents are whispering things into Saunders’ ears regarding the mishap. If Saunders cannot enter the Draft, he would have to hope that he is selected in the July Supplemental Draft, which is not certain to occur based on the current labor issues and lack of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.