W.Va.'s Slaton decides to enter NFL draft

West Virginia running back Steve Slaton is skipping his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

"I called the NFL about two weeks ago, and they told me that I was assessed as a second-round selection," Slaton said yesterday in a joint statement with new Mountaineers coach Bill Stewart.


In the school-issued statement, Stewart said his conversation with Slaton was "very private and heart-warming" and will remain private.

"I believe every student athlete, male or female, should pursue, exhaust and complete their eligibility and academic requirements for graduation at their institution. With that being said, if someone can be financially secure with a large signing bonus, I understand that decision," Stewart said.


Stewart added that the average career of an NFL player is 3.2 years and that he supports all player decisions 100 percent.

Slaton said that he felt very good about his chances to do well in the NFL.

"I am as versatile a running back as there is in the draft. There are a lot of running backs going out early, but I believe I have the speed and the ability to get drafted higher than the level where I am projected," Slaton said.

After setting West Virginia's school record with 1,733 rushing yards last season, Slaton ran for 1,051 yards this season. Slaton also had 26 catches for 350 yards.

Slaton will leave for Scottsdale, Ariz., this week to train and will remain there until the draft.

Penn State -- Nittany Lions cornerback Justin King will skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft. The announcement ended an agonizing decision process for the junior, his stepfather, Terry Smith, said last night. "It was extremely difficult for him. Penn State is fond in Justin's heart and our family's heart," Smith, a former Nittany Lions receiver, said in a phone interview. "He felt it was just the right time." After playing offense and defense his freshman year, King played exclusively at cornerback the next two seasons. He finished 2007 with 49 tackles and two interceptions. He completed his degree in three years because he academically enrolled at Penn State in the spring of 2005.