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Draft Dose: Underclassmen affected by coaching changes

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By Andrew Struckmeyer

This past year, a record number of underclassmen declared for the NFL draft, as 56 players left college with eligibility remaining. Obviously, some are prepared and ready for the jump, but some left for other reasons. With college football head-coaching jobs becoming a revolving door, did the players take their head coach leaving as a sign for them to jump ship as well, or did they leave for other reasons? In the first installment of the Draft Dose series, we take a look at several underclassmen who left school after their coach departed:

Pittsburgh FB Henry Hynoski, WR Jonathan Baldwin, RB Dion Lewis

After the controversial ousting of head coach Dave Wannstedt, these three playmakers decided that it was time to head for greener pastures. With new head coach Todd Graham bringing his prolific spread attack with him, it is likely Hynoski would have become obsolete, and Lewis' numbers could have declined in a spread-running scheme. All three are projected to be drafted, but could have benefited from another year in college.

Florida S Will Hill

With head coach Urban Meyer retiring, Hill bolted for the NFL rather than play for new head coach Will Muschamp. Hill underachieved during his time as a Gator, and the timing seems curious from a football perspective. However, the decision might have had more to do with Hill's need to support his three kids than any potential displeasure regarding the new head man in Gainesville.

Indiana WR Tandon Doss

After a couple of productive years at Indiana, Doss declared for the NFL draft. The Hoosiers replaced Bill Lynch with Oklahoma spread guru Kevin Wilson, who brought in a new coaching staff as well. Presumably, the offense would have been pretty similar, considering Lynch's willingness to pitch the ball around with QB Ben Chappell.

Maryland WR Torrey Smith

Maryland went through an emotional breakup with longtime head coach Ralph Friedgen, who rescued the program from obscurity nearly 10 years ago. Smith had an outstanding junior campaign, posting 1,055 yards and 12 touchdowns. His stock was definitely on the rise, and it might have been a wise decision to leave before new coach Randy Edsall arrives with his power running game.

Connecticut RB Jordan Todman

On the other end of Randy Edsall's decision to leave the Huskies is Jordan Todman. Todman benefited from Edsall's grind-it-out approach, which propelled Donald Brown to the pros before Todman. Todman got 334 carries in 2010, recording 1,695 yards and 14 touchdowns. New coach Paul Pasqualoni hasn't been a college head coach since his 14-year run with Syracuse ended in 2004. However, this likely has little to do with the coaching change, since Todman announced his decision one day before Edsall was announced as Maryland's new head coach.

Temple DT Muhammad Wilkerson

Temple head coach Al Golden departed for Miami (Fla.) and the Hurricanes' head job. Still, this decision probably had more to do with the dominant season from Wilkerson, who projects as a first-round pick. Starting every game in 2010, Wilkerson led the Owls with 13½ tackles for loss and 9½ sacks.

Stanford FB Owen Marecic

The do-everything Marecic declared for the draft after a junior season that saw him win the inaugural Paul Hornung Award, given to the most versatile player in the country. Marecic started at fullback and middle linebacker for the Cardinal, but projects as a fullback at the next level. Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh bolted to take the San Francisco 49ers head-coaching job, but this was probably not Marecic's reason for leaving, as Stanford promoted from within, hiring offensive coordinator David Shaw.

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