Gopher RB Laurence Maroney will Turn Pro

Minnesota running back Laurence Maroney will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft in April, a decision he announced after the Golden Gophers lost to Virginia in the Music City Bowl on Friday.

Laurence Maroney, a 5-foot-11, 210-pound junior was a third-team All-American this season and finished 2005 by rushing for a school record 1,464 yards despite splitting time with Gary Russell in the backfield.

''I talked to my mom a lot about it and she felt like it was the right time and I felt like it is the right time, so we both came to the decision together that this is the right time,'' said Maroney, who rushed for 109 yards in the 34-31 loss.

Maroney helped Minnesota become the first school in NCAA history with two running backs to each rush for 1,000 yards in the same season for three straight years. Marion Barber III joined Maroney in 2003 and 2004, and Russell rushed for 1,045 yards this season.

Maroney had been consulting friends like St. Louis running back Stephen Jackson, who left Oregon for the draft after his junior season. Maroney finishes his collegiate career with 660 carries for 3,933 yards rushing and 32 touchdowns.

His departure means that Russell and Amir Pinnix figure to be the primary ball carriers next season.

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