Thursday, February 5, 2004
WR expected to be a top pick
PITTSBURGH -- Heisman Trophy runner-up Larry Fitzgerald, the
Pittsburgh sophomore who set several NCAA receiving records in his
two college seasons, was declared eligible Thursday for the NFL
The NFL's ruling came on the same day a federal judge opened the
door for running back Maurice Clarett to also turn pro despite
playing only one college season.
Under league rules, a player must be in college for three NFL
seasons before he can be drafted. Fitzgerald left the Academy of
Holy Angels in Minneapolis, Minn., midway through his senior year
in 2001 and transferred to Valley Forge (Pa.) Military Academy to
boost his grades for college.
After spending nearly 1½ academic years there, Fitzgerald signed
with Pittsburgh and immediately became the most productive receiver
in school history. He owns NCAA records for games with a
consecutive touchdown pass (18) and most receiving touchdowns as a
freshman and sophomore (34).
The NFL determined Fitzgerald was eligible because he would have
graduated from his Minneapolis high school in 2001 had he not
transferred and is three years past his senior year of high school.
Fitzgerald won the Biletnikoff Trophy as college football's top
receiver last season and the Walter Camp Award as the nation's best
player. He was a close runner-up to Oklahoma quarterback Jason
White for the Heisman Trophy, nearly becoming the first sophomore
to win the award.
Fitzgerald could not be immediately reached for comment, but his
father, Larry Sr., said, "We choose to let them (the NFL) do what
they do, and then we'll do what we do."