Gophers' Decker still expects return to gridiron

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Breathe easy, Minnesota fans. At least for now.

Golden Gophers star wide receiver Eric Decker reiterated his intention to return for his senior season in football, even as the Major League Baseball amateur draft gets under way this week. Decker, a Biletnikoff Award finalist last fall, was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 39th round of last year's MLB draft.

He just completed another solid season for Minnesota's baseball team, batting .319 with 68 hits and 25 RBI. Decker likely will be picked higher in this year's draft, which begins Tuesday.

"It's going to come down to what I really want to do," Decker told the (St. Paul) Pioneer Press. "I really don't want to give up my senior year of football. That's an experience and a lifetime memory I will always cherish. ... I want to stay here, and I want to finish up."

There had been some speculation earlier in the spring that Decker would forgo his senior season on the gridiron and begin playing baseball for a pro organization. But he was named a co-captain for 2009 and has always indicated a desire to play football.

"We do have the talent to win a Big Ten championship; it's just a matter of how hard we're going to work and just the preparation we have this summer leading into the fall," Decker said. "Leadership is big on any team, and I want to take that role on."

Decker reminds me a lot of Jeff Samardzija, a star wide receiver who I covered during his final two seasons at Notre Dame. Samardzija would have been a coveted NFL wide receiver but elected to pursue baseball in the Chicago Cubs organization. Though Decker also could have a nice career in the NFL, my hunch is he'll also go the baseball route, but not until 2010.