So long, white whale
According to multiple sources on Twitter, including ESPN's Joe Schad and the entire Gazette crew, Iowa junior offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga will skip his senior year and enter the 2010 NFL Draft. In the wake of last night's Orange Bowl victory, Bulaga told reporters he would announce his decision by the end of the week. Apparently it only took another 24 hours.
Bulaga was the rare Iowa lineman to play as a true freshman, stepping in at guard during the infamous 2007 LOLffensive line season. In 2008, he took over as starting left tackle, and the rest was history. Bulaga was dominant as a sophomore, and was widely considered the best offensive lineman in the Big Ten entering the recently-completed campaign. He was diagnosed with a thyroid disorder in September, missing three games. He struggled somewhat upon returning, and only returned to his usual self late in the season. With that said, he's long been touted as a first-round NFL draft pick, and his performance in the Orange Bowl -- particularly in paving the way for Brandon Wegher as Iowa drained the clock in the fourth quarter -- was his most impressive of the season. In the wake of last night's game, this decision is not a surprise.
Riley Reiff, who played left tackle in Bulaga's absence, is set to assume that position next fall; though he may be the best player on Iowa's squad not named Clayborn, Bulaga's early departure is also the only one with a well-defined line of succession. He will certainly be missed, but it's not a crippling blow to 2010. Like everyone else, we wish Bulaga the best of luck at the next level.