Havner chooses senior year | TheUnion.com

Havner chooses senior year

It took him nearly a month to decide, but Spencer Havner has made a decision on the immediate future of his football career.

The 2001 Nevada Union graduate announced Tuesday that he will forgo entering the 2005 NFL draft in favor of returning to the UCLA Bruins for his senior season.

Either way he went, Havner said, there were pros and cons in each direction. And the pile of potential cash he left on the table – for a final run in Westwood – didn’t exactly make it easy to just say no.

“It was tough,” Havner said. “It took basically about four weeks to make the decision. I talked to as many people as I could, trying to get inside the NFL, trying get into their heads (to see where he might be drafted).

“The draft is such a mystery for all involved. This was just a feeling-out process to see where I may get drafted, if I went.”

Havner, a second-team All-Pac-10 selection, led the conference this season with an average of 11.36 tackles a game. He ranked second nationally in solo tackles with 7.64 a game, and was seventh with 125 total tackles.

The word he heard from NFL folk, though, was that he would likely be a second- to third-round pick this year. And if the history major is knows anything about the history of NFL draft, the difference between the first and third rounds is, potentially, millions of dollars.

“The average signing bonus for the first round is somewhere between $2.5 to $3 million – although the top 10 are above that,” Havner said. “Second-round picks are between $1.7 to $2.0 million and the third round, that’s usually between $500,000 to $750,000.

“That’s a huge amount of money, but if I got injured I’d still have to go to work the next day.”

Maybe not the next day, but Havner said the fact that he can set himself up financially for years by simply signing as a higher pick was one of many reasons he decided return to the Bruins.

He closed out his junior season on the sideline, not only missing a game for the first time, but also a practice, in his four years as a Bruin. After sustaining a knee injury, Havner was held out of the Las Vegas Bowl. And though an MRI and arthroscopic surgery showed no sign of serious injury, it was another reason to consider entering the NFL draft early.

“It is kind of scary, but if you think about injuries and play timid that’s when you get hurt,” Havner said. “I try not to think about it.

“And I decided even if I start out having a great year next year, and get injured, my stakes would go down but I’d probably still get drafted.”

Watching his teammates from the sideline wasn’t easy, especially as the game crept closer to Wyoming’s 24-21 win over the Bruins.

“That was probably the first time I watched since I was a fifth-grader playing on the (NU Junior Miners’) Junior Midget team,” he said. “It was a new experience. I didn’t know what to wear. I didn’t know what you do. I had to ask our coaches.”

After asking around about him entering the draft – including a talk with former Bruin teammate Matt Ware, who will line up as a dimeback for the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs this weekend – Havner is happy to have made his decision.

“It feels like I haven’t slept for (four weeks),” he said. “One thing that I wouldn’t have felt good about, if I left, was knowing that I didn’t finish something I started. I want to give everything to the team and make it a better program. And with my degree, I’d feel like I left something on the table, too.

“It was such a good feeling when I left NU, because I felt like I gave a lot, like I did all I could there. I want to have the same feeling when I leave here.”

– The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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