MIAMI — The Bryan Bulaga saga will contiue until at least the end of the week.
The all-American offensive tackle for the Hawkeyes said after Iowa’s 24-14 victory over Georgia Tech that he will release a statement on his NFL intentions by the end of the week.
He could enter the 2010 NFL draft in April. Bulaga, who’ll turn 21 on March 5, is a two-time all-Big Ten offensive lineman. This season, he earned the league’s offensive lineman of the year.
“I’ve got a couple more things I want to talk over with my parents and coach (Kirk) Ferentz. There will be a release later on in the week,” Bulaga said.
Cornerback Amari Spievey said he was 50-50 on the NFL draft. He’s rated as the No. 4 junior corner by ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper.
“I’m flying straight there (home to Connecticut),” Spievey said. “I’m not sure yet. I’m going to wait it out.”
Iowa did lose out on senior Dace Richardson. The 6-foot-6, 305-pounder said after the game that he won’t petition the NCAA for a sixth year and will try throw his hat into the NFL draft. He fit the eligibility for a sixth year. He played one game in 2007 and missed the entire 2008 season while struggle with knee issues that ended up with alignment surgery.
Bulaga and Spievey could be the first true underclassmen to leave Iowa early for the NFL draft. Dallas Clark and Shonn Greene left with a year of eligibility but were 23 or 24 when they declared.
Bulaga said he’s talked to former Hawkeye and Oakland Raider Robert Gallery, who went No. 2 in the 2004 draft. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay projected Bulaga as the No. 20 pick, going to the New York Jets, in a mock draft he put out Dec. 15.
Last April, the Detroit Lions picked tight end Brandon Pettigrew with the No. 20 pick. He signed a five-year, $14.6 million contract with $9.4 million guaranteed. Bulaga’s deal might be different because offensive tackles come with a higher value, but that’s an idea of what kind of money is being considered here.
“The thing is it’s not all about the money,” Bulaga said. “I don’t think a lot of people realize that. It’s about the love of the game. Every guy in here dreams about the next level and going to the NFL. When an opportunity knocks on the door, some guys are ready to take it and some want to stay an extra year.
“That’s where I’m at right now. It’s more than just the money. It’s your career, it’s your dreams, it’s everything. There’s a lot more that goes into it than just making some money. There’s more to it than just that.”
This week in Miami, Bulaga talked about Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, who won the Heisman in ’08, passed on the draft and then suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. His draft status has taken a hit.
Bulaga missed three games this season with a thyroid condition. He has it checked monthly and is fine now. But it left an impression.
“There’s a chance that I could blow out my knee and be a half of step slower,” Bulaga said. “You can’t have that kind of stuff. I was already at a point in my career earlier this year with the thyroid scare. You have to consider all of those things because any of those things can happen tomorrow.”
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, whose NFL ties gave him obvious access and insight into this type of decision, has passed along what he’s learned and said late this week he didn’t know which way it’d go.
Defensive end Adrian Clayborn said in December that he planned to stay for his senior season.