COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Jeremy Maclin is not ready to leave Missouri for the NFL -- yet.
The All-American is concentrating on helping the 12th-ranked Tigers finish strong.
"You dream of that as a little child, playing in the NFL," Maclin said. "That's everybody's dream, that's what you're here working for. But you've just got to approach that situation when it comes."
Maclin set an NCAA record for all-purpose yards by a freshman last year. Though he's only a sophomore, he graduated from high school in 2006 but did not play for Missouri that season because of an injury. NFL rules state a player can be eligible to be drafted when he's three years removed from high school graduation.
Maclin has been every bit as good this season as last, despite facing defenses geared to stop him. He ranks second in the nation with 198.5 all-purpose yards per game.
The 6-3, 210-pound wide receiver with the blazing speed is projected to be a first-round NFL draft pick in April, maybe even among the first 10 picks. That means millions of dollars could be in Maclin's near future.
So, no, he's not surprised by the NFL question.
"I knew people were going to ask," Maclin said Tuesday. "If I could answer them, I could answer them. I have no idea at this point."
Coach Gary Pinkel said he'll discuss the situation with Maclin after the season. For the time being, it's all speculation.
"That isn't going to win games this year," Pinkel said. "So that's kind of how we're going to handle it."
Five Missouri juniors, including quarterback Chase Daniel, were evaluated by the NFL last winter. None of them were projected as early picks and all five returned.
Safety William Moore, one of those five, also has been projected as a potential first-rounder next April.
Daniel is still putting up huge numbers at Missouri after finishing fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting last year because of perceived physical limitations such as his 6-foot (maybe) height and so-so arm strength. There are no red flags for Maclin.
Pinkel couldn't be blamed for wishing Maclin would stick around for another season. But he realizes Missouri found a rare talent in Kirkwood, Mo.
"He'll be better next year and the next year and the next year and the next year, when he does leave," Pinkel said. "The thing he's developed now is great work habits. You watch him in practice, he works his tail off."
Maclin believes the biggest improvement he's made is off the field.
"Video study, that's a big thing right there," he said. "I watched a little bit when I had to, and now I go above and beyond."
That preparation combined with his physical skills often leaves defenders helpless.
Maclin has scored 16 touchdowns this season -- nine receiving, four rushing, two on punt returns and one on a kickoff return. In less than two seasons, he owns the school career all-purpose yards record.
Last week's victory over Kansas State was Maclin at his best. He piled up a season-best 278 yards and scored three scintillating touchdowns -- a 42-yard sprint off a simple swing pass, an acrobatic grab in the back of the end zone, a 56-yard jaunt on a direct snap during which he pulled away from futile pursuers.
"You've got to accelerate, man, you can't get caught from behind," Maclin said. "That's what I pride myself on. So I just run."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)