Clemson running back Davis to enter NFL draft

Updated: January 9, 2008, 8:27 PM ET
Associated Press

CLEMSON, S.C. -- The "Thunder" is leaving Death Valley.

James Davis, part of Clemson's "Thunder and Lightning" backfield the past two years, has decided to give up his senior season to enter April's NFL draft.

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"I can't lie to you, it was really hard for me just to leave here," Davis said Wednesday night after meeting with coach Tommy Bowden for about 30 minutes. "I've been thinking about it every day."

Davis was projected as a third-round pick by the NFL and Bowden thought it was his player's best interest to remain one more season.

"But I'm going to totally support the decision and I'm going to encourage him to come back and get his degree," Bowden said.

Davis said he isn't concerned about other high-profile juniors runners who have entered the draft like Ray Rice of Rutgers and Kevin Smith of Central Florida.

"If I was concerned about that, I'd probably stay in school," Davis said. "I feel like I played healthy this whole season and I did a lot as far as being consistent. That's something I looked at."

Davis struggled with the choice since Clemson's 23-20 overtime loss to Auburn at the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year's Eve. He met twice with his family and made a trip to Florida to clear his head.

Part of the reason was financial, said Davis, who has a 1-year-old daughter. A bigger reason was Davis' goal of playing in the NFL.

"It's my dream, man," he said.

The 5-foot-11, 210-pound Davis led the Tigers in rushing the past three years, going past the 1,000-yard mark in 2006 and 2007. He finished with 38 touchdowns, second on Clemson's career list.

Without Davis, the bulk of the running load next year falls to sophomore C.J. Spiller, who's speed and ability to juke defenders gained him the nickname, "Lightning."

Davis was in regular contact with Spiller, who was supportive of the move.

"He learned a lot from me and I think he'll do well," Davis said.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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