Horns RB Charles to go pro

January 2, 2008 1:41:50 PM PST
Texas junior running back Jamaal Charles, who rushed for 1,619 yards this season, announced Wednesday he will leave the Longhorns to enter the NFL draft. Charles joined Ricky Williams, Earl Campbell and Cedric Benson as the only Longhorns to rush for more than 1,500 yards in a season. He had 161 yards and two touchdowns in Texas' Holiday Bowl win over Arizona State. The Longhorns finished 10-3.

His biggest game of the season was a career-high 290 yards in a 28-25 win over Nebraska in which he had 216 yards and three long TDs in the fourth quarter.

He indicated after the bowl game he would return, but had filed paperwork with the NFL to test where he might get drafted. The response, which he did not disclose, prompted his decision, he said in a statement released by the school.

"Playing in the NFL has always been my dream and when the NFL report came back, I was happy with the grade and felt like it was best for me to enter the draft," Charles said.

Charles is the rare Texas player to leave early in coach Mack Brown's 10 seasons. Quarterback Vince Young, who led Texas to the 2005 national championship, is the only other Longhorn to enter the draft early in that span.

Charles' 3,328 yards rushing rank fourth in school history, trailing Williams, Benson and Campbell.

"We appreciate everything Jamaal has done for Texas and want to wish him all of the best," Brown said. "He has been a great player for us and more importantly a tremendous person, student and representative of our program."

A slashing runner with sprinter's speed, Charles scored 18 touchdowns and averaged 6.2 yards per carry this season. After being dogged by early-season fumbling problems -- including a key drop near the goal line in a 28-21 loss to Oklahoma -- he flourished down the stretch, averaging 180 yards over the final five games.

He was a four-time All-American in track for the Longhorns and ran a career-best 10.23-second 100 meters to win the Big 12 title as a freshman in 2006.

Texas also announced Wednesday that assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator Larry Mac Duff is leaving after one season on the Texas staff. A 36-year coaching veteran, Mac Duff spent four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers before joining the Longhorns.

Texas had one of the worst defenses in the country, giving up an average of 33.4 points over the final five games.

"Larry and I met this morning and he informed me that he is not returning for the 2008 season, citing philosophical differences," Brown said. "Larry is a great coach and man and we appreciate all he's done for our program."

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