Minnesota junior RB Maroney to enter NFL draft

Minnesota junior running back Laurence Maroney said after the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl on Friday that he would enter the 2006 NFL Draft.

In a recent chat with SportsNation, Mel Kiper talked about Laurence Maroney's pro prospects.

Jason (Wisconsin): Who do you rate as the top three running backs in college, including underclassmen?

Mel Kiper: Reggie Bush is No. 1, DeAngelo Williams is No. 2 and Laurence Maroney is No. 3.

Maroney carried 26 times for 109 yards as the Gophers lost 34-31 to the Virginia Cavaliers. He ran for 1,464 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.

He was a third-team All-America selection and an All-Big Ten selection, leading the conference in rushing. He finished third nationally with 135.5 yards a game despite missing time with an ankle injury.

The Gophers might have been distracted in what could be coach Glen Mason's final game at Minnesota. He has a year left on his contract, but school officials want to make a decision about next season by Saturday night when they must either terminate his assistants' contracts or see them roll over to 2006.