With the 2013 BCS National Championship approaching, several players on both sides will be looking to show off their skills to the world on the biggest stage in college football. A huge performance in the title game could mean a huge paycheck when heading to the NFL Draft this April.
Over the last few years we've seen a few stars step up in the National Championship, and it payed dividends for them once they made it to the next level. There's no better way to prove to a scout you're ready for the next level than dominating against a top-ranked team in the final game of the season.
Let's take a look a some of the breakout performances from recent championships and see where each player ended up going in the NFL Draft afterwards. You might recognize a name or two from this list.
2012: Alabama vs. LSU
Trent Richardson: Everyone expected Richardson to be the first running back taken in last year's draft, but his last performance with the Crimson Tide only elevated his stock even more. He rushed for 96 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries against the No. 1 ranked Tigers. The Cleveland Browns ultimately traded up a spot to grab Richardson at No. 3 overall, proving his solid display on the national stage paid off for the young running back.
Courtney Upshaw: Being named defensive MVP of the National Championship will probably help your cause heading into the NFL. Upshaw received that honor after recording one sack, a forced fumble and helping direct Alabama's defense to one of the most dominant performances we've ever seen on such a stage. The Tide allowed just 92 yards to the Tigers. Upshaw's draft stock declined after a poor showing at his pro day, but the Ravens still felt confident enough to trade up for him in April. Baltimore took Upshaw at No. 35 overall.
2011: Auburn vs. Oregon
Cam Newton: Newton won the Heisman in his only year at Auburn, so making a case for NFL scouts wasn't exactly a huge issue when he faced off against Oregon in the title game. However, he led the Tigers to a 22-19 victory over the Ducks, combining for 329 yards and two touchdowns in his final collegiate outing. What happened next? Newton was the first pick of the 2011 draft. No big deal.
Nick Fairley: Another National Championship defensive MVP, Fairley recorded three tackles for loss and a sack against Oregon. He was a dominant force in the middle, and likely would have gone as a top five draft pick if not for questions surrounding his work ethic and motivation. Fairley went to Detroit at No. 13 overall.
2010: Alabama vs. Texas
Mark Ingram: Ingram entered the draft in 2011, but his huge game against the Longhorns stood out as he headed to the next level. He rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries in arguably the biggest game of his college tenure. Ingram was drafted at the end of Round 1 by the Saints. His NFL career hasn't been nearly what everyone expected, but that performance on the national stage helped him get paid.
Jordan Shipley: Even after Colt McCoy left the game early, Shipley managed to haul in 10 receptions for 122 yards and two touchdowns with Garrett Gilbert under center. He was eventually drafted in Round 3 by the Bengals, making him the eighth receiver to go off the boards in 2010. Unfortunately his National Championship display was overshadowed by McCoy's injury, but his two scores late in the game kept the Longhorns' hopes alive, briefly.
2009: Florida vs. Oklahoma
Percy Harvin: A monster performance against the Sooners, Harvin rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown on just nine carries, while also grabbing five receptions for another 49 yards. Urban Meyer knew just getting the ball in Harvin's hands would pay off. His versatility stood out once again, and the Vikings took note as they drafted him at No. 22 overall.
Tim Tebow: Even though he didn't enter the draft until the next year, Tebow's MVP performance made the case for him to be drafted in Round 1. Josh McDaniels seemed to believe he was worth the No. 25 overall pick. Tebow threw for 231 yards and rushed for another 109 against the Sooners. While he did throw two picks, his leadership helped boost his draft stock, even if plenty of critics doubted him.