Stewart Going To NFL

Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart announced today that he will not return to the team but will enter the 2008 NFL draft.

Jonathan Stewart rushed for 1,722 yards last season and scored 11 touchdowns.

A media conference was held at the Casanova Center on Friday afternoon and Stewart indicated that he had not made his decision until last night (Thursday) and did so after consulting with his mother and pastor, Cecil Daniels. Stewart said that he prayed much about the decision and after making up his mind he call Oregon coach Mike Bellotti.

Stweart also said that he hadn't given the NFL much thought during the season but once it was over he began to give it stronger consideration.

Bellotti had indicated earlier in the week that an evaluation had been returned to him from the NFL and that evaluation had Stewart going in the first round, and the perception that the running back would be anywhere from 15 to 25. Bellotti had hoped Stewart would stay the extra year and felt that if had done so his draft status would surely be in the top-10.

"This I was hoping not to hear, but in reality there is no wrong decision." said Bellotti. "I truly believe he'll be a first round draft pick."

Bellotti also thinks that Stewart will fare well in the testing the NFL does prior to the draft.

"During testing and everything that happens -- running strength and character -- he will surpass everybody's expectation," observed Bellotti of Stewart's chances in the draft.

Stewart said that he conferred with two former Ducks, Dante Rosario and Jordan Kent who told him that the NFL is a business and he would have to go in a prepare.

Bellotti also indicated that he thought that going to the NFL is a dream come true for Stewart and the decision to leave early came from the player's heart.

The question of Stewart going to the NFL has been a hot one all season and in fact as early as last spring Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti acknowledged the chances of Stewart turning professional were high if the 235-pound running back had a big junior season.

Stewart capped off his collegiate career with a personal best of 253 yards rushing at the 74th Brut Sun Bowl in El Paso back on December 31st.

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