LSU's Russell to enter draft after junior season

Updated: January 8, 2007, 7:06 PM ET
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Louisiana State quarterback JaMarcus Russell will skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft in April, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Sunday.

Russell will make an announcement Wednesday regarding his decision, LSU officials said.

LSU spokesman Michael Bonnette said Monday that university officials were helping Russell make the announcement, but Bonnette labeled as "premature" the notion that Russell had already decided to turn pro.

"I don't think he's made his mind up yet. People are jumping the gun," Bonnette said. "He still has a couple days to think things through and make the best decision for himself and his family."

Russell, a 6-foot-6, 260-pounder from Mobile, Ala., was the nation's No. 3-ranked quarterback in passing efficiency this season. He threw for a career-high 332 yards and two touchdowns in the Tigers' 41-14 victory over Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl on Wednesday night.

Despite outplaying Brady Quinn in that game, Russell is still ranked No. 2 on the initial draft board of ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., behind the Fighting Irish quarterback.

Kiper indicated that he would not commit to a final order until he sees which juniors declare for the draft. He also said that he wouldn't be surprised if the Oakland Raiders select Russell with the first pick because he fits their vertical passing game. That would give the Detroit Lions the option of taking Quinn with the second selection.

Russell will finish his LSU career with 6,525 yards and 52 touchdowns in three seasons -- two as a full-time starter.

A number of other players have decided to go pro:

• Sophomore Sidney Rice, South Carolina's career leader in touchdown receptions, is forgoing his final two seasons to enter the NFL draft. In two seasons, Rice caught 23 TDs to set the school's career mark.

• Miami junior linebacker Jon Beason said Sunday he will enter the NFL draft. "I wanted to play for coach [Randy] Shannon," Beason told ESPN's Joe Schad, "but the risk in not coming out is just too much. Selfishly I have to go. I'm ready now to bring my intensity and passion to an NFL team." Beason led the Hurricanes with 91 tackles this season, including 10 for loss. He led Miami with 10 tackles in the MPC Computers Bowl.

• Arkansas defensive end Jamaal Anderson will enter the NFL draft after his junior season. Anderson led the SEC in sacks with 10½ in the regular season and added three in the Capital One Bowl.

• Arkansas will also lose all-SEC cornerback Chris Houston, who will declare for the draft. ""I know playing in the NFL has always been a dream for Chris," Razorbacks coach Houston Nutt said in a statement. "We were hopeful that he would play one more year in a Razorback uniform before that happened, but he and his family have decided now is the time to make that jump. Anytime you recruit talented players, you are aware that this day might come. We wish Chris the best and appreciate all of his contributions to the Razorbacks."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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