LOS ANGELES -- Despite interest from NFL teams, Stanford coach David Shaw will return next year. That's not necessarily the case with several of his players.
Five Cardinal juniors said Sunday that they requested feedback from the NFL draft advisory board and will decide after the Rose Bowl whether to turn pro.
The five are right tackle Cameron Fleming, left guard David Yankey, defensive end Henry Anderson, inside linebacker A.J. Tarpley and free safety Ed Reynolds.
All but Yankey are academic seniors but athletic juniors -- they're on track to earn degrees this spring but have a year of eligibility remaining.
Yankey is a senior athletically but would be eligible for a medical redshirt because of a season-ending injury during his rookie year. A first-team All-American and potential first-round pick, he's considered the most likely member of the quintet to enter the draft.
"There's not much left for him to prove," a source said.
Reynolds stood with the seniors at Stanford's end-of-season team dinner but cautioned against reading too much into the decision.
"That has all been put on the back burner," he said of the NFL. "I'm going to take the Rose Bowl for what it is and then make a decision."
The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is Jan. 15, meaning the two weeks immediately after the Rose Bowl will shape expectations for Stanford next fall.
When end Ben Gardner and linebackers Shayne Skov and Trent Murphy decided last winter to return for 2013, the Cardinal instantly became a national title contender.
The same expectations could resurface in 2014 if Reynolds, Tarpley, Anderson and Fleming return. The odds of them all coming back are better than it might seem.
Five or 10 years ago, players who requested feedback from the NFL draft board were almost certain to leave school. But the exodus has slowed in recent years throughout the Pac-12.
UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton and three quarterbacks -- Stanford's Andrew Luck, USC's Matt Barkley and Washington's Keith Price -- are among the high-profile players who opted for another year in college.
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, a potential top-five pick this spring, is also expected to return to school.
"The trend has definitely changed," Reynolds said. "You see the benefits to coming back with guys like Andrew, Shayne and Trent. You almost never hear guys regretting they came back."
Luck passed on the chance to be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft in order to earn his degree and spend a final year with his closest friends. His decision continues to resonate.
"The guys in the locker room are phenomenal," Tarpley said. "For all of us, that's a big determining factor."
Both players are third-year juniors.
Guards are not valued as highly by NFL teams as quarterbacks, tackles and pass rushers.
"I thought (ex-Stanford guard) David DeCastro was a better player, but Yankey is a people mover in the run game," said Daniel Jeremiah, an NFL Network analyst and former West Coast scout for the Philadelphia Eagles.
"He missed some tackles but is instinctive," Jeremiah said. "He has a ton of production, and I've heard he will test really well. Those things will help."
Wednesday' s game
Rose Bowl: Stanford (11-2) vs. Michigan State (12-1), 2 p.m. ESPN