Wells To Leave OSU, Enter NFL Draft

Ohio State will be without its most valuable player the past two seasons in 2009. Tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells announced his decision Thursday afternoon to forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL draft. Find out what Wells and head coach Jim Tressel had to say about the decision.

Chris Wells will not return for his senior season at Ohio State to instead enter the NFL draft, the junior Buckeye tailback announced in a press release sent out by Ohio State on Thursday afternoon.

"This has been a difficult decision, but in the best interest of my family, I have decided to enter my name into the 2009 National Football League draft," Wells said. "I want to thank my teammates, my coaches, my teachers and the academic advisors for all they have done, and I definitely want to thank the Buckeye fans for all their support. Ohio State has become like a family to me, and it will always be that way."

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel has often suggested to his charges who might be early first-round draft picks that they should seriously consider the NFL, and his stance has been no different with Beanie, who most people consider to be a lock to be drafted in the first half of the opening round. Because of his high projected draft status, Wells was expected to listen to his head coach's advice and test the NFL waters.

"Ohio State football will miss Beanie's big runs, but we will also miss his big smile," Tressel said. "He has been a tremendous teammate and one of the all-time great performers in the greatest rivalry in college football. He will always be an ambassador for Ohio State and all of us wish him well."

Wells, a two-year starter at tailback who has been the team's MVP both years, has placed his name all over the Ohio State record books. A product of Akron Garfield, Wells leaves with 16 career games of 100 yards or more and 30 career touchdowns.

Even more impressive have been his performances against the team's chief rival in Michigan. As a backup to fellow Akron native Antonio Pittman in 2006's matchup of the nation's top two teams, he sprung for a 52-yard first-half touchdown that gave the top-ranked Buckeyes' a lead they would not relinquish.

He set the Ohio State record for yards against Michigan with 222 in 2007 and scored the team's two touchdowns during a 14-3 win. This past season, he opened the scoring with a 59-yard touchdown run - giving him a touchdown run of more than 50 yards in three straight Michigan games - and ended the day with a team-high 134 yards on 15 carries.

Experiences such as those, Wells said, are the hardest things to give up with this choice. He previously had told reporters that he wasn't sure of his future plans because of how much he enjoys the collegiate life at Ohio State.

"There are a lot of things I know I will miss: just being in the locker room, spending time with my teammates, playing in the Michigan game, just all the aspects of being at Ohio State that make it such a special place," he said. "But in the best interest of my family, it's time to move on and take a chance at fulfilling my lifetime dream of playing in the NFL."

Such stardom was expected out of Wells from the time he was Scout.com's No. 1-ranked player in the country in the class of 2006.

He finished his freshman season with 576 yards and seven touchdowns on 104 carries while backing up Pittman, who left for the NFL following his junior season.

Wells took over as the starter in 2007 and helped the Buckeyes return to the national title game. He compiled 1,609 yards and 15 touchdowns on 274 carries and got better as the year went on, averaging more than 160 yards per game and topping 200 yards twice over the final six contests.

This past season, Wells finished sixth in the nation in yards per game as he totaled 1,197 yards and eight scores on 207 carries.

For all his numbers, Wells was sometimes confounding to Ohio State fans. He lost four fumbles as a true freshman and saw his playing time suffer late in the year as a result. The past two years he has suffered from injuries ranging from ankle and wrist problems that hounded him all of last year to a foot injury that caused him to miss three games this past season. He finished his career on the bench because of a concussion as Ohio State furiously came back during its close loss to Texas in the Fiesta Bowl on Monday.

With the loss of Beanie and senior backup Maurice Wells, Ohio State retains junior Brandon Saine and sophomore Boom Herron as tailbacks. In addition, the Buckeyes have verbal commitments from five-star Florida tailback Jaamal Berry and Scout's No. 1-rated fullback, Carlos Hyde.

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