When asked if he'd enter the NFL draft with a first-round projection from the NFL Draft Advisory, Virginia Tech Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas paused for a second.
"It'd still be up in the air," he said. "Simply just because I love the university, I love the people, all my friends are still here. And I think I have some work to do."
While Thomas has struggled in his second season behind center, he still remains a trending NFL draft topic because of his skillset and size. Two other Hokies underclassmen, junior cornerback Antone Exum and junior defensive end James Gayle, may also have a decision to make come mid-January.
There's been plenty of talk surrounding all three as Virginia Tech prepares to face Rutgers Dec. 28 in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Fla. Regarding Thomas' draft status, it's been something that offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring has had to acknowledge all year.
"He's progressed, but obviously it hasn't shown up in the stat department. A lot of that doesn't have to do with him," Stinespring said. "We've talked and he knows that I think another year would benefit him at the college level, but again that's a decision that he's got to sit down and make."
Thomas hasn't appeared to be leaning either direction definitively. Will his decision ride on whether coaching changes are made? That remains to be seen, but with noted NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.'s recent raving comments on Thomas, it certainly appears the 6'6" bulldozer has generated plenty of NFL interest.
For Exum and Gayle, the decision could be a relatively easy one in coming back to Blacksburg. Neither are expected to be projected as top picks, and Exum (unlike Thomas) was very definitive in his answer regarding the draft.
"I'm coming back, as of now," Exum said. ""I'm thinking of the bowl game and stuff like that. I'll worry about that type of (draft) stuff afterward, but I'm coming back."
The three underclassmen have generated interest, but there are some senior Hokies that have a chance to play at the next level, too. Linebacker Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech's vocal leader on defense, has a good chance to be selected in the April draft after finishing with a flurry of strong performances. It might not be surprising to hear wide receiver Corey Fuller (41 rec. 769 yds, 5 TD) get his name called at the draft either, especially considering the growing NFL need for consistent slot receivers.
Scouts are sure to be in attendance in bunches to see many of the aforementioned players, but each player is concentrated on securing a 7-6 season in an otherwise disappointing 2012 campaign. That includes likely 2014 draft prospect, junior linebacker Jack Tyler.
"I think if we win that game, people will more remember of how we responded and came together to win some games," Tyler said. "It will kind of throw away the mindset that this was a terrible season."
The Hokies take on Rutgers at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Fla.