Little announces he will stay at UK

Tailback Rafael Little has announced that he will forego this year's National Football League draft and will remain at the University of Kentucky for his senior season.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Tailback Rafael Little has announced that he will forego this year's National Football League draft and will remain at the University of Kentucky for his senior season.

"I have a lot of things to improve on," Little said of his decision. "I enjoy all our coaches and my teammates. I've had a great time at UK and I'm excited about the (upcoming) season. And, it will help me get my degree."

Little helped lead the Wildcats to an 8-5 record this season, capped by a win over Clemson in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl. Little played in nine games, missing four because of a knee injury sustained on Sept. 9 vs. Texas State. He tried to play with the injury, but finally had arthroscopic surgery on Oct. 9 and missed the next three games. He returned for the Vanderbilt game and played as if he'd never been away, delivering a dominating performance with 246 rushing and receiving yards in UK's victory over the Commodores.

For the season, Little was the team's leading rusher with 619 yards, averaging 5.0 yards per carry, with three touchdowns. He caught 29 passes for 377 yards and two TDs. He averaged 22.6 yards per punt return and would have led the nation in that category but he did not play in enough games to qualify.

Little enjoyed a fabulous sophomore season in 2005, when he led the Southeastern Conference in all-purpose yardage and punt returns, ranking fifth in the nation in both categories. He rushed for 1,045 yards that year, only the sixth player in school history to accomplish that feat, and also led the team in pass receiving. His 16.9-yard punt return average and 1,982 all-purpose yards set school records. He was named Sophomore All-America and first-team All-Southeastern Conference.

"Obviously, we're pleased to have Rafael back," Coach Rich Brooks said. "He needs, and we need to help him, strengthen his position for next year's draft by working on the things he needs to improve."

Returning for his senior season also will enable Little to enhance his position as one of the most outstanding players in Kentucky football history. He is sixth on the UK career rushing list with 1,983 yards and fifth on the all-purpose yardage chart with 3,856 yards. He is nearing the school's all-time top-10 list for pass receptions and needs only 23 receiving yards to reach 1,000 in his career. He already rates as the single-season and career record holder for punt returns.

The deadline for college juniors to apply for the NFL draft is Mon. Jan. 15.


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