Oklahoma State junior running back Vernand Morency says he's turning pro because his coach has departed for LSU. Morency said he submitted papers Monday to the NFL making him eligible for the draft in April. The former Miami high school star disclosed his decision in his hometown shortly after Oklahoma State's Les Miles was introduced as the new coach at Louisiana State. "With coach Miles leaving, I just feel mentally and physically ready to go and make my presence felt in the NFL," said Morency, who turns 25 on Feb. 4. "There's no doubt I'm the top back in America. I said that before the season, and I'm sticking to my guns." Despite missing one game with a knee injury, Morency carried 250 times for 1,454 yards and 12 touchdowns during the regular season. He ran for at least 100 yards in each of the first seven games. "I would say he's absolutely going to be taken in the first round of the draft," said his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. New Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said he found out about Morency's decision Monday. "If he feels like this, it's what he needs to do for himself," Gundy said. "Then I will wish him the best. ... "I'm not surprised about him leaving, because of his age. There's only so much wear and tear that a running back's body can take." Morency was limited to 24 yards on eight carries in the Alamo Bowl, which the Cowboys lost 33-7 to Ohio State. Before that game, he said he would return for his senior season so he could keep a pact with his mother to earn his degree. Miles' move changed Morency's mind. "When the boss man leaves, you don't know where the team is heading," Morency said. He declined to say how high he expects to be taken in the draft. "If a team needs somebody to be a spark plug," he said, "I'm their guy."