"First off I want to thank God for allowing me to be here today," Hester said. "I want to also thank the Doral Ale House for allowing me to be here. I also want to thank the media for supporting me."
"Another thing, I want to thank the fan base for being there for me. The fan base for the University of Miami is tremendous. I can't live without them."
"I am here today to announce that I will forego my senior year and enter the NFL Draft. I want to thank coach Coker and the coaching staff for the great job they did. They taught me a lot of things on the field, but also how to be a man."
HESTER AND THE NFL
Devin Hester concluded his Miami career with eight touchdowns (four punt returns, two kickoff returns, one rushing, and one blocked field goal return).
He also added five interceptions and a blocked field goal.
He believes his draft status would go up if he came back another year, but feels this was the best thing for him and his future. In the end, it didn't matter if he was going to play a larger role on offense in what would be his senior year.
Yesterday, Devin and his mother, Juanita Brown discussed the decision for 3-4 hours before coming to a definitive conclusion. They had been talking about the decision for the past week before Sunday's discussion.
"This is not something Devin just decided to do," his mother said. "He has put a lot of thought into it and has followed his heart."
Hester plans on entering the draft as a cornerback/kick returner, but is open to any opportunities NFL coaches have for him such as playing running back or wide receiver.
As he stated throughout his UM career, it doesn't matter what side of the ball he plays on.
"There is not one comfortable spot whether it is offense or defense," Hester said. "I am a team player and wherever the coaches want me or wherever they need me, I will play there."
He isn't concerned about where mock drafts have him slotted at this time.
"I don't worry about any of that," Hester said. "I am a football player and no matter what team selects me or where I am picked, that will be fine with me. I am just going to work hard right away and help any team any way I can."
He has not signed an agent at this time, but is in the process of narrowing the field. A decision could come in the next couple of days on who he will represented by.
Devin will begin his preparation for NFL combines in Texas with his mentor, Deion Sanders.
Sanders did have some advice for Hester in his decision to enter the NFL.
"He basically just told me that whatever I felt to just follow my heart," Hester said.
One of the things that Hester will enjoy is to be able to provide for his mother and family.
"It is a great feeling knowing that you can provide so she doesn't have to work anymore," Hester said. "It means a lot and it is a great feeling."
He said he will definitely be motivated in the combines to prove to people that he has plenty of speed.
"I want to show the world that I do run a 4.3 and I could dip into 4.2," Hester said. "I know these months coming up I will work my hardest."
1. 97-yard kickoff return vs Florida, 9/6/03
2. 51-yard punt return vs Louisiana Tech, 9/18/04
3. 92-yard punt return vs Louisiana Tech, 9/18/04
4. 78-yard punt return vs Louisville, 10/14/04
5. 100-yard kickoff return at N.C. State, 10/23/04
6. 11-yard rush at North Carolina, 10/30/04
7. 78-yard blocked field goal return vs Florida, 10/31/04
8. 48-yard punt return vs Temple, 10/15/05
CAREER STATS - 35 GAMES
5 interceptions, 29 tackles, 1 sack
20 rushes, 134 yards, 1 TD, 6.7 avg
10 receptions, 180 yards, 18.0 avg
41 punt returns, 638 yards, 15.6 avg, 4 TD
40 kickoff returns, 1,019 yards, 25.5 avg, 2 TD
RECORDS AT MIAMI
Hester currently owns or has tied three University of Miami records
1st (tied) career kickoff return touchdowns (2)
2nd career punt return touchdowns (4)
5th career punt return yards (638)
6th career kickoff return yards (1,019)
3rd season kickoff return yards (517 in 2003)
1st (tied) longest punt return (92 in 2004)
1st (tied) longest kickoff return (100 in 2004)
2nd most punt return yardage in a game (142 in 2004)
6th longest kickoff return (97 in 2003)
7th most kickoff return yardage in a game (129 in 2004)
9th most kickoff return yardage in a game (125 in 2003)
10th most kickoff return yardage in a game (119 in 2003)
LARRY COKER STATEMENT ON HESTER
"We are disappointed to see Devin Hester leaving early. We believe Devin would be better served by staying in school and finishing his degree and becoming more proficient as a football player. But we respect his decision, and the Hurricane football family wishes him the best."
Christopher Stock is a Senior Editor with CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at email@example.com