Hester to leave for NFL after junior season

Updated: January 2, 2006, 10:53 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Miami kick returner Devin Hester will announce Monday he'll skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

Hester's family scheduled a news conference for the junior to reveal his choice.

ESPN's Joe Schad reports that even though Hester's position in the pros is unclear, he has told people he's fine if he's a second- or third-round pick.

"We're still struggling," Hester said Monday morning. "I have to do what's best for my family. Our house is still damaged from the hurricane. My roof caved in. I have to take this opportunity for my family."

Hester said he plans to run a 4.2 second 40 yard dash at the NFL combine and projects as an athlete who can play cornerback, wide receiver and returner.

"I'm a great athlete," Hester said.

"Put me anywhere and I'll make plays. My style is different than most of the players out there. I'm explosive. I have a burst. It's hit it and go. And that translates. It translates to the NFL. You'll see."

Over his first three seasons, Hester -- who has played cornerback, running back and wide receiver for Miami, plus ran back kickoffs and punts -- has given the Hurricanes an average of 17.7 yards every time he touches the football.

On 117 interception returns, kick returns, catches and carries, he's totaled 2,070 yards. He was primarily used as a cornerback this season for the Hurricanes, who moved him to offense before their season-ending appearance against LSU in the Peach Bowl.

Miami coach Larry Coker said the Hurricanes would use Hester in a variety of offensive roles in the 2006 season, and has compared those plans to the ones Southern California has used in utilizing the many talents of Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush.

"I think he can be that type player," Coker said Saturday. "I think we'll analyze that more in the offseason. I definitely see a strong role for him."

Hester is one of at least three Hurricanes -- including defensive lineman Baraka Atkins and wide receiver Ryan Moore -- who are considering entering the draft.

He did apply to the NFL advisory council in an effort to gauge his draft position, although it's unknown what that committee may have told Hester -- whose father died of cancer about a decade ago, and whose mother spent several years unable to work after suffering serious injuries in a 1993 automobile accident.

Hester will be the 11th Miami player in the last five years to leave school early for the draft. Seven of them -- Sean Taylor, Kellen Winslow and Vince Wilfork in 2004, Andre Johnson and Willis McGahee in 2003 and Jeremy Shockey and Philip Buchanon in 2002 - were first-round picks.

Clinton Portis was a second-round pick in 2002. Last year, Roscoe Parrish was a second-round selection, and Frank Gore went in the draft's third round.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.