Wolfpack's top rusher to go pro

Updated: January 5, 2010, 12:56 PM ET
By Heather Dinich | ESPN.com

North Carolina State tailback Toney Baker, the Wolfpack's leading rusher in 2009, has decided to forgo a sixth year of eligibility granted to him by the NCAA and enter the NFL draft.

"After talking to my family, my coaches and doing a lot of praying, I've decided that it's time for me to pursue playing football at the next level," Baker said in a prepared statement. "It was a tough decision because I have loved my time at NC State and have really enjoyed playing for Coach [Tom] O'Brien. But after weighing all my options, I think this is the right move for me at this time in my life."

Baker missed almost two complete seasons with a knee injury, but made a strong comeback in 2009 and led the team in rushing with 64.4 yards per game. He also ranked third on the team in scoring and fourth in receiving. Baker was a bright spot for a team that struggled in O'Brien's third season and finished 5-7.

Baker finished the regular season ranked sixth in the ACC in rushing, ninth in all-purpose yards (94 per game) and tied for seventh in touchdown scoring (4.5 per game). He finished his career ranked 11th in school history with 17 career rushing touchdowns and 11th in rushing yards with 2,045.

"We support Toney in this decision and wish him great success," O'Brien, who is on the road recruiting, said in a statement released by North Carolina State. "He has been and will continue to be a great representative of NC State University and our football program."

Heather Dinich covers the ACC for ESPN.com.