KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee football juniors Derek Barnett and Alvin Kamara will decide on their NFL futures after the Music City Bowl.
On Monday, both players said they’re focused on the upcoming postseason game against Nebraska, hoping to finish the season strong after losing at Vanderbilt to end the regular season.
“We have another game. The season is not over,” said Kamara, who finished the season leading the Vols in all-purpose yards.
“I’m really just worried about my teammates and this game coming up. We’ll cross that bridge when it comes. I’m not really focused on it right now.”
Barnett, who was named a first-team AP All-American on Monday, echoed a similar message, saying, “I’ll probably make a decision after the season. I’m not worried too much about that. I’m worried about just finishing the season out the right way. If we do that, I’ll start thinking about the next step.”
Barnett recorded a career-high 12 sacks this season, tying Reggie White’s school sack record (32). He finished the year with 18 tackles for loss, an interception, 12 hurries and 3 pass breakups. He’s considered a consensus first-rounder and a possible top 10 draft pick.
The defensive end was later asked about his time at Tennessee, and while he again reiterated he hadn’t made a decision, he sounded like a guy reflecting on an amazing career.
“Being from here, I’ve met a lot of great people. I became a better ballplayer. I’ve been around a lot of great coaches and teammates,” Barnett said.
“The journey has been good, but it’s not over yet.”
Meanwhile, Kamara’s stock isn’t on the level of Barnett’s, but most believe the tailback also will declare for the draft after the season. He registered 565 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns in 10 games, adding 33 catches for 346 yards and 4 scores.
ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. projects Kamara as a fourth-round pick.
Kamara doesn’t believe his future decision will be any sort of distraction over the next month, either.
“I’m here. I kind of go day by day anyways. I don’t really look ahead,” the redshirt junior said.
“When you look ahead, you kind of miss the small things in life. I don’t want to be looking ahead and miss being around my teammates, my coaches, and miss an opportunity to prepare how I know I can prepare.
“I’m not worried about pro or whatever right now.”
The 2017 NFL Draft deadline for underclassmen to declare is Jan. 16.