For all the stories of players who could have come out after their junior year, but return for their senior year and hurt their stock, there are plenty of prospects who help themselves. Raiders third round pick, Shilique Calhoun, was one of those players who could have left early and would probably have been chosen reasonably high.
After his junior year, he had been a two year starter, two time B1G first team selection, two time 2nd team All American, and a B1G Defensive Lineman of the Year winner. But he wanted to finish his degree in Criminal Justice, so he stayed. And luckily in so doing, he also boosted his numbers, adding Ted Hendricks Award Finalist to his resume as well as another first team all B1G and 2nd team All American.
"Honestly last year (2014) was a great year for us and I definitely thought about coming out but I had the opportunity to gain my degree and I felt like that was very special for not only be me but for my family," said Calhoun. "You know, while It is a blessing to be able to play in the NFL, it is ‘not for long' and that's kind of what we call it, the ‘Not For Long league' so I feel as if no one can ever take your degree away from you and that was a special moment for me so I decided to come back, take that up and definitely take hold of the opportunity."
Calhoun hopes he can make a career out of the NFL, but as we know, even some of the longest NFL careers can be over in one's early 30's, with the average NFL career being 4-5 years. Obviously, he's hoping for a long career, but he was smart enough to take advantage of the opportunity to get his degree while he had the chance. And once his football career is over, he intends to make use of that degree.
"I actually got a job opportunity from one of my professors," Calhoun said. "She told me once I'm done with football she said come back and they'll pay for the police academy for me. So, that would be the first thing. Where I go from that I'm unsure. I might take my study a little further, go back to school, not sure yet, I'm gonna take it small and steady, but that is in the plans as well."
All this talk about the high character of some of these players can make some football fans think the Raiders priorities are in the wrong place. And certainly there are plenty of examples of players who became great despite lacking a sparkling character, and the Raiders in particular employed quite a few in their history. But there's a lot of value in NFL players who have their priorities straight. All the talent in the world isn't worth much if they don't have their head on straight to be able to maximize that talent.
"That year being at Michigan State, it was great and I think it kinda helped me develop as a player as well," Calhoun continued. "Develop my knowledge, develop my skill and help me understand what I need to get better and gave scouts an opportunity to see me once and again and I can get better and I can compete on a high level as well. Just thankful to have the opportunity and it was a great year for the Michigan State Spartans."
If you judge Calhoun based on his onfield talents and production, he absolutely justifies being a high draft selection. And when he's done on the field in the NFL, he can go out in the field hand down justice of another kind.