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Earlthomas
Earl Thomas (right)::Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Thank you, Texas safety Earl Thomas, for saying out loud what every top-flight third-year player is thinking.

Thomas, a redshirt sophomore, is a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, which goes annually to the nation's best defensive back. As one of the nation's best safties, Thomas also will be on the radar of plenty of NFL teams.

Asked Wednesday what he planned to do, Thomas said he'll wait until after the BCS title game and discuss it with his family. By then, he'll have received his grade from the NFL's draft advisory council. "There's no strong lean right now," Thomas said. "It's 50-50."

Then someone asked Thomas what he would do if he received a first-round grade. Would he go then? "I'm pretty sure I would," Thomas said. "I came to college to make money. First-round money, I haven't seen it. Nobody in my family has ever seen it. I'm not going to turn that down."

That's the correct attitude, especially when the NFL's draft class of 2011 might face a rookie salary cap. Thomas stands to make so much money as a first-rounder in 2010 that, if he invests wisely, his grandchildren may never have to work a day in their lives. He went to college to learn the skills he would need to put himself in position to get a great first job.

Some Texas fans may not want to lose Thomas now, but if he were an aspiring accountant, no one would begrudge him parlaying his considerable skill into a high-paying job. Had SI offered me a job after my third year of college, I'd have been gone, too.

So thanks, Earl, for being honest. You may take some heat for it, but you've got the right idea.

 

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