Leshoure, Zook talking NFL

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CHAMPAIGN – Illinois junior tailback Mikel Leshoure was scheduled to talk to Ron Zook by early today to discuss his NFL draft decision.

Underclassmen like Leshoure have until Jan. 15 to make a decision. Players aren't allowed to enter the draft until three years after their high school careers ended.

Leshoure started at Illinois a semester early, joining the team in January 2008, just days after the team played in the Rose Bowl.

As a freshman, the two-time News-Gazette All-Stater from Centennial gained 126 yards on 35 carries and scored a touchdown.

His workload increased in 2009. Leshoure ran 108 times for 734 yards and five touchdowns. He also had 14 catches for 177 yards and two more scores.

As a junior, Leshoure broke several Illinois single-season records and earned second-team All-America honors. He was the star of Illinois' Texas Bowl win against Baylor, scoring three touchdowns and being named MVP.

Leshoure set school season records for rushing (1,697 yards), points (122), touchdowns (20), 100-yard games (nine) and consecutive 100-yard games (five). He has 2,557 yards for his career, which is tied with Juice Williams for sixth on the career rushing list. If he returns for his senior season, Leshoure will have a good chance to break Robert Holcombe's career rushing total.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 15 players had announced their plans to turn pro early. That number is expected to triple. The only early entry among the running backs, so far, was UConn's Jordan Todman.

Illinois has had an early entry in the draft for three consecutive seasons. Running back Rashard Mendenhall (Steelers) was a first-round pick in 2008, and cornerback Vontae Davis (Dolphins) was a first-round pick in 2009. Receiver Arrelious Benn (Bucs) went in the second round in 2010.

Categories (3):Illini Sports, Football, Sports

Comments

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CecilColeman wrote on January 06, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Mike.....Take "z" with you, too.

peterborich wrote on January 06, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Better yet, z go..Mikel stay.

dancrowell5 wrote on January 06, 2011 at 11:01 pm

I understand the risk, but the upside for Mikel to play next year in Petrino's offense with the players that are in place with their experience seems to be the better business decision overall. If he moved in to the top ten to fifteen first round picks next year, wouldn’t he double or triple his earnings with more guaranteed in his signing bonus? He won’t be able to accomplish that for at least 3 years in the NFL playing against the best. Wouldn’t it be safer to accomplish the financial security for his family by playing in college one more year than the professional level for 3 years? Couldn’t he insure himself for the money he could get this year if anything happened to him?

Anyone, please help me to understand what I’m obviously missing. Thank you in advance.

bowspray wrote on January 08, 2011 at 8:01 am

dancrowell5 - Interesting thought on getting insured against injury.I would guess Lloyd's of London would offer a policy for a hefty premium which might be too expensive for the family.I hope Leshoure ignores Zook who will always do what is best for himself,as Rashad Mendenhall confirmed.Leshoure is better to take the money and add one more year[hopefully] to his NFL career by saving his legs and body for the pros,instead of another pounding in the collegiate ranks.

dancrowell5 wrote on January 08, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Thank you, I agree with you and hope Mikel does make the right decision for him and his family. I wish them the best, they deserve it. They have been great for the Champaign/Urbana community and the U of I.

bigteddy10 wrote on January 08, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Current projection is that he's a middle round (3rd or 4th) pick, unless you are projected as a 1st round pick; you stay in school, get your education, and improve as a player. Mendenhall's decision to leave was based on his sour relationship with Zook. His first season was a bust, he still had fumble issues (could've been corrected with another year in school) and he was injured also (1 good year doesn't make you ready for NFL, another year and his body would've been ready for pounding at next level). I understand everyone hates Zook but its best for the BIG 3 to stay another year, the reward is huge. Go ILLINI