Two of Purdue football’s top players status for this month’s Music City Bowl matchup with Tennessee is unclear.
Junior receiver David Bell and defensive end George Karlaftis each declared for the NFL Draft this week, but neither provided clarity on if they would play in the bowl game.
In his bowl announcement press conference, Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm left the question open ended saying they’ll “gather more information.”
Bell was the Big Ten receiver of the year and is a nominee for Biletnikoff Award. Tennessee played both the other nominees for the nation’s top receiver award: Alabama’s Jameson Williams and Pitt’s Jordan Addison.
The 6-foot-2 receiver caught 93 passes for 1,286 yards and six touchdowns this season including 200-plus yard performances in upset wins over Iowa and Michigan State.
Bell projects as a fringe first round selection in this spring’s NFL Draft.
I am blessed beyond measure to do the thing I love everyday, and now at the professional level. Thank you Purdue for being home, thank you to my incomparable support system & thank you God.Boiler up forever! pic.twitter.com/rNK6q4h13c
— David Bell 3️⃣ (@DB3LL) December 8, 2021
Karlaftis recorded 36 tackles. 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles as a junior before announcing his plans to enter the NFL Draft this week.
Ever grateful ever true🖤 pic.twitter.com/XkE92rV4N5
— George Karlaftis III (@TheGK3) December 7, 2021
Despite not having massive numbers, Karlaftis projects as a fringe top five pick.
While neither player acknowledged whether they would play in the Music City Bowl, both tweets seemed like a send off and indicated they’d played there last game for the Boilermakers.
The uncertainly around Purdue’s top two players could be a reason the betting line has shifted in Tennessee’s favor. Purdue opened as 2.5-point favorites but the Boilermakers are now four-point underdogs.
ESPN projects Tennessee to earn the win in the Dec. 30 bowl game.