California RB Best opts to forego senior season, apply for NFL draft

BERKELEY, Calif. -- California star tailback Jahvid Best announced Saturday that he will skip his senior year and apply for entry into the NFL draft after a disappointing final college season that was cut short by injury.

"It wasn't an easy decision," Best said on a conference call. "It took a lot of thought, and we got a lot of advice from everybody. This is an opportunity that I can't pass up."

Best missed the final four games of the season after a frightening fall knocked him out and sent him to the hospital with a concussion and sore back. Best said the injury played only a small role in his decision and actually made it more likely that he would have stayed so he could have ended his college career on a high note.

Best said he has heard projections that have him going as high as the first round and as low as the third round in April's draft. But he said those are nothing more than guesses and didn't play much of a role in his decision to leave school.

"It was just kind of a gut feeling," he said. "I go with my feelings. That's how I make decisions. I feel like I'm ready to play in the NFL, and I think I'll be successful."

Best said he's still not fully healed from the injury that occurred Nov. 8, when he fell on the back of his head from about 8 feet while leaping into the end zone for a touchdown against Oregon State.

Best was unconscious after the fall and taken off the field on a stretcher. He was hospitalized overnight and didn't return to the field the rest of the season. It was his second concussion of the year, having sustained a mild one the previous week at Arizona State.

"I'm still not 100 percent right now," Best said. "But I'm very optimistic about my ability to come back by the time the combine and pro day come around. I have no doubt in my mind I'll be able to perform."

Best entered the season as one of the most dynamic running backs in the country and a contender for the Heisman Trophy. He finished with 16 touchdowns and 867 rushing yards before the injury.

In his career at Cal, Best had 2,668 rushing yards, 62 catches for 533 yards and 35 total touchdowns. He had 11 rushes for more than 60 yards and four that went for at least 80.

"I think the sky's the limit," Golden Bears coach Jeff Tedford said. "I think Jahvid has great potential. The obvious thing is his speed. But I don't know if everybody appreciates his ability to catch football. I think he's just going to get better and better."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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