Spiller to remain at Clemson

Updated: January 15, 2009, 6:48 PM ET
By Heather Dinich | ESPN.com

Clemson standout running back C.J. Spiller has decided to put the NFL on hold and return to Clemson for his senior season.

His decision came on the final day underclassmen could declare for the NFL draft, and it was an instant boost to the position and the offense, as he is the only back with any significant experience. He averaged a team-high 5.4 yards per carry, and 20 runs of at least 10 yards.

"I didn't want to leave here with regrets," said Spiller, who claimed he was told by the NFL draft advisory board he would be a first round pick. "I just want to look back over my life and say you know what? Even though everyone didn't think that was the best choice for me to stay, I still made a choice and it worked out well."

Spiller said he would have liked to make the decision sooner, but he wanted to take his time and make sure he had all the information he needed.

"You have to listen to that voice," he said. "You have to be patient. Everyone has opinions. It ultimately comes down to you laying in that bed, having peace at night before you close your eyes, and that's what it came down to."

Spiller has breakaway speed and has shown it as one of the best kick returners in the ACC. He led the Tigers with 1,170 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns.

Many expected him to turn pro, especially with the departure of running back James Davis. Spiller, who was the second-leading rusher behind Davis, will now be the focal point on an offense that will lose their starting quarterback, leading rusher and top two receivers.

"I think he has a true peace about what he wants to do," said Dabo Swinney, who was promoted from interim coach after the season just ended.

Spiller also may have to deal with some hurt feelings in his family, although it's far from the first time he went against the wishes of his mother, Patricia Watkins.

Spiller, from Lake Butler, Fla., shocked everyone, including Watkins, three years ago when he turned down nearby Florida to play for the Tigers.

Then after his freshman season, Spiller's mother had hoped he would transfer to the Gators -- a move that appeared plausible. But Spiller returned to campus and pledged himself to the Tigers.

Defying his mother a third time appeared inevitable.

"I had to do what's best for me," said Spiller, who plans to graduate in December. "That was being at Clemson."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report