Riley Reiff

Hawkeyes junior Riley Reiff says he hasn’t thought about whether he will enter the 2012 NFL Draft. (Louis Brems/For the Quad-City Times)

Louis Brems/Quad-City Times

Three-time state high school wrestling champion Riley Reiff now wrestles with one of the most challenging decisions of his life.

The offensive lineman will decide soon if Iowa's Insight Bowl game with Oklahoma will be his last in a Hawkeyes uniform or if he will return for his senior season of eligibility.

The 6-foot-6, 300-pound junior has a tough call to make.

A starter in Iowa's past 25 games, Reiff is considered a potential first-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, and several lists include Reiff as a top-10 draft choice if he chooses to forego his final year of collegiate eligibility.

That's a decision Reiff is not ready to make.

"I haven't really thought about that yet at all," Reiff said. "When the time is right, I'll sit down and think about it. Right now, I'm just worried about the bowl and bowl preparations."

Iowa begins preparations for the Dec. 30 matchup in earnest once final exams end late this week, and Reiff expects to keep his focus on the Sooners.

"There will be time later on to figure everything out. I really don't have a clue yet what I'm going to do one way or the other," Reiff said.

Hawkeyes receiver Marvin McNutt is among players who weighed an early exit for the NFL a year ago, and he wrestled with both sides of the issue before making a decision the Big Ten's receiver of the year said he does not regret.

"Early on, I was 50-50 with it. I didn't know for awhile whether I would come back or if I was going to go into the draft," McNutt said. "James (Vandenberg, the Hawkeyes' first-year starting quarterback) kept on me, sending me texts that encouraged me to make the call I did, but it is something that weighs on a guy until he makes his mind up."

McNutt said there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

"It's a process. You research things, weigh both sides of it, and at some point, you get a gut feeling and you run with it," McNutt said. "At the end of the day, you have to do what is best for yourself. I'm glad I came back. It was the right thing for me. I can't say if it's right for everybody, but you do only get one chance to play college ball."

Age and the rookie wage scale in the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement with its player union are among things Reiff, a two-time all-Big Ten selection who earned first-team honors this season, likely will take into consideration.

Reiff celebrated his 23rd birthday on Dec. 1, and age was among the reasons Tyler Sash and Shonn Greene cited for their decisions to bypass their senior seasons with the Hawkeyes.

The NFL's new deal with its players eliminates the possibility of huge initial contracts for top draft picks.

While Sash, Greene and Bryan Bulaga are among Hawkeyes who left early for the NFL, Iowa has had some players return for senior seasons.

Adrian Clayborn returned for his final year of eligibility in 2010, and a year ago, defensive back Shaun Prater joined McNutt in choosing to return this season after the studying his situation.

"There is a lot to weigh, a lot to think through," Reiff said. "Right now, it's not something that is on my radar screen. That time will come later."