Sophomore Michigan tailback Jon Vaughn said Wednesday that he will leave school to enter the NFL draft, where he expects to be chosen in an early round.
"My family and I had many conversations about it, and we decided that this was the best route for me financially and personally," Vaughn said following a news conference in the office of his agent, Jim Steiner. "Basically, I think I have my best shot at it right now."Vaughn, a St. Louis native, rushed for 1,364 yards last season but was hampered by injuries that cost him his starting position by year's end. He carried the ball 15 times for 128 yards in the Wolverines' 35-3 victory in the over Mississippi in the Gator Bowl on Jan 1.
Michigan coach Gary Moeller said he talked with Vaughn on Monday but couldn't get him to stay.
"My main concern is for Jon," Moeller said. "I think he has the potential to play in the NFL. I just think he could use more time to develop his skills."
But Vaughn said he believed he was ready - or he would be when the time comes for him to perform.
"I'm going to take this semester off and prepare myself for the draft and the combines and get myself in the best shape of my life," he said. "Hopefully, I'll make it next year and then I can get back to school in the off season. One of the promises I made to myself and my family is that I'll finish my college education."
"I'm going to miss all aspects of the University of Michigan. But I have a lot of support up there from friends and the coaching staff. They wish me the best."
Last year, Leroy Hoard passed up his senior year of eligibility at Michigan to turn pro. Cleveland drafted him in the second round.
"The whole thing is very, very sad," Moeller said. "What we were afraid of happening last year . . . is happening. Now players with two years left are coming out.