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January 14, 2008
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Darren McFadden isn't sticking around for another run at the Heisman Trophy.
The Arkansas All-American announced Monday he'll skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.
"When I was growing up, I dreamed of playing for the Razorbacks," McFadden said. "Now, the time has come for me to pursue another dream of mine - playing in the NFL."
McFadden was the Heisman runner-up in 2006 and 2007, so his decision to turn pro wasn't surprising. He ran for 1,830 yards last season, second on the Southeastern Conference's single-season list. He is also second on the career list with 4,590 yards rushing.
Felix Jones, the Razorbacks' other talented tailback, said he'll also enter the draft a year early.
McFadden rushed for over 1,000 yards all three seasons at Arkansas. Jones did it the last two. They were part of a backfield that also included senior fullback Peyton Hillis, another NFL prospect.
Now Arkansas will have to rebuild under new coach Bobby Petrino.
McFadden's decision comes a week after he was involved in a "pretty rowdy scene" at a piano bar in Little Rock, when he was handcuffed by police and then released without charges. In the summer of 2006, he severely injured his toe in a fight outside another club, but recovered in time to play in the season opener.
McFadden holds Arkansas' career and single-season rushing records.
McFadden, from Little Rock, made an immediate impression in 2005. He ran for 1,113 yards and was chosen SEC freshman of the year. In 2006, he led Arkansas on a 10-game winning streak and was second in the Heisman race to Ohio State's Troy Smith.
It was during that season that the Razorbacks began using McFadden in the shotgun at quarterback - he could run, throw or hand off to Jones.
McFadden spoke first at a joint news conference Monday. Then it was Jones' turn.
"I guess that'll be the last handoff from D-Mac," Jones joked.
This season, the Razorbacks lost their first three SEC games but rebounded late. They beat then-No. 1 LSU in the regular-season finale. McFadden ran for 206 yards and three touchdowns and also threw for a touchdown in Arkansas' triple-overtime 50-48 win.
McFadden also tied an SEC record with 321 yards rushing in a November win over South Carolina. He figures to be one of the first players taken in the April draft.
"I just want to go play in the NFL," McFadden said. "Whether I went No. 1 or dead last, it'll be the same feeling for me."