Clemson running back James Davis, who last week declared his intentions of entering April's NFL draft, instead will return to school for his senior season.
Davis, the Tigers' leading rusher last season with 1,064 yards and 10 touchdowns, requested permission from the NFL and Clemson to return to school. College underclassmen had until Tuesday to declare their intentions of entering the draft, then had 72 hours to change their minds.
The school announced Friday that Davis faxed letters to the NFL
and Clemson University just hours before the deadline to
reconsider. Davis is expected to return to class Tuesday.
Davis said he spoke with his mother well into the night Thursday
about whether he made the right call about the NFL draft.
"I knew today was the final deadline," Davis said. "I woke up
last night at 3 a.m. and just thought about everything and thought
about my future. Coming back to Clemson is just the right thing to
Davis' return is a big boost for the Tigers, who finished 9-4 last season. Davis and junior C.J. Spiller were among the leading rushers in the ACC, and the Tigers will return the bulk of their playmakers in 2008.
"I am thrilled. We will have one more year of 'Thunder and
Lightning,' " Spiller said.
Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said last week he thought Davis was
better off with another year of college. He was glad Davis reached
the same conclusion.
"I know it was a difficult decision for him and we continued to
communicate. In the final analysis he realizes this is the best
decision for him and his family," Bowden said.
Davis is the Clemson's first player to submit paperwork for the
NFL draft and then decide to return, athletic spokesman Tim Bourret
said Friday. He had announced he was leaving school on Jan. 9.
Davis struggled with his choice since Clemson's 23-20 overtime
loss to Auburn at the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year's Eve. He met
twice with his family and made a trip to Florida to clear his head.
Part of the reason to go pro was financial, said Davis, who has
a 1-year-old daughter.
Davis reversed course after a large number of junior running backs entered the draft. He was considered a potential second- or third-round draft choice. But running back figures to be one of the deeper positions in the draft, with West Virginia's Steve Slaton, Rutgers' Ray Rice, Arkansas' Felix Jones and Darren McFadden, Texas' Jamaal Charles, Oregon's Jonathan Stewart, Illinois' Rashard Mendenhall and Central Florida's Kevin Smith each forgoing their senior seasons in college.
Davis has led Clemson in rushing the past three years, going for
over 1,000 the last two seasons. He's second on Clemson's career
rushing list with 3,130 yards and needs 837 yards to surpass
Raymond Priester's record of 3,966 yards.
ESPN.com college football and men's basketball writer Mark Schlabach contributed to this report. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.