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Best headed to the NFL

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Sources: Jahvid Best To Enter NFL Draft (0:40)

Jesse Palmer breaks down Cal RB Jahvid Best as an NFL prospect (0:40)

With the blessing of coach Jeff Tedford, California running back Jahvid Best will bypass his senior year and enter the NFL draft this spring.

"This is an opportunity I can't pass up, so I have to take advantage of it," Best said.

Best said he consulted a number of people about the decision -- including the NFL -- and he believes he could be selected anywhere from the first to the third round.

Best began the season as a top Heisman Trophy candidate and his outstanding speed will catch NFL scouts attention. He rushed for 867 yards and 12 touchdowns, despite missing the Bears final four games. In 2008, he led the Pac-10 and ranked third in the country in rushing, averaging 131.67 yards per game and finished with 1,580 yards, which ranks second in the Cal record book.

Best suffered a severe concussion and injured his back on Nov. 7 against Oregon State after he was flipped in the endzone after scoring a touchdown. He said he's still not 100 percent but expects to be by the NFL combine.

Best suffered a number of injuries during his career, and he said the latest one "played a small" role in his decision to start his NFL career a year early. While durability will be a question with NFL scouts, Tedford said that Best isn't injury-prone.

"His injuries are things -- a dislocated elbow -- are things that can happen at any point. It's not something because he's not durable," Tedford said. "Jahvid is very tough. He's shown he can play when he's beat up a little bit."

Best's departure is not unexpected and it doesn't cripple the Bears at tailback. Backup Shane Vereen rushed for 952 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. The big battle will be for backup duties.

"It's going to be wide-open because of competition," Tedford said.

Best said he has not yet selected an agent.