Raghib "Rocket" Ismail, Notre Dame's talented flanker, rusher and return specialist, said today he would give up his final year of college football to enter the NFL draft.

"This decision isn't one that happened overnight," Ismail said.Ismail had said repeatedly during the 1990 season that he would return for his final season. But he said the death of teammate Chris Zorich's mother made him rethink his decision.

"It made me feel that I wanted to do something for my mother and my family," Ismail said.

He said he was supported in his decision by coach Lou Holtz, his family, friends and teammates.

"It just made me feel really great," he said.

Ismail said the prospect of a lucrative contract was only one factor that drew him to the NFL.

Ismail said he will return to Notre Dame during the offseason to finish the 30 credits he needs to graduate.

In a prepared statement, Holtz said Ismail will be an asset to any team that drafts him.

"We thank Rocket for the contribution he has made to the University of Notre Dame, both on the field and off," Holtz said.