First-Round NFL Prospect Matt Corral Carted Off Field Saturday Night After Deciding To Play In Sugar Bowl

The college football bowl season is not what it once was. There are many different factors at play, one being that the creation of the College Football Playoff system has made all other bowl games obsolete. The other major contributing factor are big-time college players projected to go high in the NFL Draft deciding to sit out their team’s bowl game. 

The trend of opting out has only increased over the past few years as NFL prospects prefer to start focusing on the NFL Draft as early as possible, as well as avoiding a major injury which could impact their draft stock. 

Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral went against the grain, choosing to play in the Rebels Sugar Bowl matchup against the Baylor Bears. Corral is a projected first-round draft pick, ranked as the 23rd overall prospect by ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. 

In December, Corral was asked whether he intended to opt-out of the game, and his response to reporters was one that fans of football everywhere could appreciate. 

“I definitely wouldn’t have been in this position if it wasn’t for them,” Corral said when asked about opting out. “I’m not just going to leave. Ya, I know what’s on the other side. I know what’s ahead, but God’s got me. I’m not worried about the negative part. If that does happen, then it wasn’t meant to be.”

“I’m going to give these guys everything I got until it’s over.”

Unfortunately, the “negative part” did occur, with Corral forced to exit the Sugar Bowl in the first quarter after suffering a right leg injury. Corral was helped off the field before taking a cart to the locker room, returning to the sidelines on crutches to watch Baylor beat Ole Miss 21-7 Saturday night. 

Corral’s father told ESPN that the injury was a sprained ankle, and Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin said Corral’s x-rays came back negative. 

“That’s obviously a difficult situation, especially when a kid’s playing in the game, you know, so my mind raced with a lot of thoughts right there, you know, and that’s just my love for him, just like I would if it was my own son in that situation,” Kiffin said after the game.  “So you know, maybe I didn’t do a great enough job with the team, because you know, I was really hurting for him in that situation because I know how much he’s put into it, how much it means to him. And for that to be taken away like that, you know, it really sucks.”

Corral led Ole Miss to its first ever 10-win regular season. 

“He’s been unbelievable and things that you don’t see besides the playing, just how he is,” Kiffin said. “And I had a cool moment this morning, the team meeting, just listening to him talk. And I told our own coaches and players, ‘You can be a freshman and you’re supposed to listen to the leaders; you can be a 50-year-old coach, and you should listen to this guy.’”

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to

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