OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson
said Thursday he has not yet decided whether he will declare himself eligible for the NFL draft.
"I have spent the last few days considering my options to either enter the NFL draft or stay at OU. The facts are that I have not hired any representation and I have not declared for the draft," Peterson said in a statement released by Oklahoma.
Peterson is considered a likely first-round draft pick if he were to leave the Sooners and skip his senior season. He has given no indication whether he will stay in college or turn pro. The deadline for juniors to enter the draft is Monday.
"He's very unsure," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said Thursday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "He's still trying to figure out what he wants for his life and what he feels is best for him."
Citing two anonymous sources, The Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday night on its Web site that Peterson had decided to enter the draft and met with Stoops to inform him. Peterson and Stoops both denied that report.
"My meetings with Coach Stoops and my parents have been to discuss all the scenarios," Peterson said in the statement. "I see a lot of options in both so I am still undecided on what I want to do. I wish people would give me the opportunity to decide. Once I do, I will make an announcement at the right time. Any reports that are different than that are false."
Added Stoops: "They said that our meeting was to inform me. That was anything but the case. The meeting was with me and his parents and just discussing through all the possibilities and what all the different scenarios might be. He was at that time still very unsure of what he truly wanted."
Stoops said he plans to keep in touch with Peterson.
"I'm sure I will. We'll talk daily, what he's thinking about, what he's feeling. Whatever the young guy wants, I'm all for," Stoops said. "I think people close to him respect that, that this is his life to live and he needs to do it where he satisfies what he feels he needs to."
Peterson missed seven games this season with a broken collarbone, but still finished with 1,012 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns. He ran for 77 yards and two touchdowns, including a 25-yarder on the first play of overtime, in Oklahoma's 43-42 overtime loss to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1.
The runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 2004, Peterson set an NCAA freshman record with 1,925 yards before injuries derailed his sophomore and junior seasons. He missed all or part of four games with a sprained ankle last season.
"I think what's been underplayed from everybody is Adrian's a great competitor and he loves playing here, he loves playing with his team and I think also that people don't realize maybe in the end he feels he hasn't gotten everything he set out to get," Stoops said. "He maybe feels a little unfulfilled that way."
Stoops said his goal is to make sure Peterson is well-educated and bases his decision on accurate information.
"I think in the end he's still undecided for his life what he wants," Stoops said. "Adrian's had people trying to tell him what to do for a long period of time and he's used to listening to what he wants, not what everyone else thinks he ought to do, which is what I think a lot of people respect and admire about him."
With 4,045 yards in three seasons, Peterson ranks third on Oklahoma's career rushing list, behind 1978 Heisman winner Billy Sims (4,118) and Hall of Famer Joe Washington (4,071). He also holds the NCAA with nine straight 100-yard games to start his career.
In recent years, defensive tackle Tommie Harris and safety Brodney Pool opted to skip their senior seasons at Oklahoma to enter the draft. Quarterback Jason White and linebacker Rufus Alexander are among those who chose to return.
"Some other guys maybe felt they've run their course and done what they set out to do. Maybe he feels there's still some more to do. That's up to him to decide," Stoops said. "There isn't any pressure at all from our end. We support him fully in whatever he wants to do. In the end, it's his life to life, and I think that's to be respected."
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame
tailback Darius Walker
, on pace to become Notre Dame's career rushing leader, will enter the NFL draft and skip his senior season.
Walker said Thursday he was fulfilling a lifelong dream.
"I just really feel like it's right for me," he said. "I wrote down the pros and cons and feel like it's the right thing for me to do at this time."
Walker, who has run for 3,249 yards in three seasons, was on pace to break the school record of 4,318 career rushing yards set by Autry Denson from 1995-98. He also had 816 receiving yards, and a school record 109 career catches by a back.
Walker had until Monday to declare for the NFL draft and his decision caught many by surprise.
Coach Charlie Weis said he was informed of Walker's decision on Tuesday.
"He guaranteed me that he would graduate from Notre Dame in the near future," he said in a written statement. "Although disappointed, we wish him nothing but the best."
Walker set the freshman rushing record with 786 yards in 2004. He rushed for 1,196 yards as a sophomore and 1,267 yards this past season.
His best game may have been his last, when he rushed for 128 yards on 22 carries against LSU in the Sugar Bowl, including 125 yards in the first half.
He is the second player in as many years to leave Notre Dame with a year of eligibility left. Tight end Anthony Fasano left last year and was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round. But Fasano was a senior with a fifth year of eligibility left.
Walker is the first junior to leave Notre Dame since cornerback Bobby Taylor left after the 1994 season. He was projected to be picked in the first round, but was taken by the Philadelphia Eagles in the middle of the second round.
Weis also announced that nine players with another year of eligibility have asked permission from the school to return, including safety Tom Zbikowski, linebacker Travis Thomas, tight end John Carlson
, center John Sullivan and defensive end Trevor Laws.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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