Add another Cane that’s taking his talents to the pro level.
Miami’s junior running back Joe Yearby announced Tuesday afternoon that he’ll forgo his senior season and will enter the 2017 NFL Draft.
Yearby’s announcement comes on the heels – about 16 hours – of UM quarterback Brad Kaaya’s decision to leave school and turn pro.
While Yearby’s statement Tuesday made it official, many felt his time at Miami was over when Yearby made a cryptic social media post after Miami’s final home game of the season – eluding to it being the last time he played in front of the home crowd.
A high school All-American at Miami Central, Yearby said it was in his best interest to join the professional ranks.
“After discussing this decision with my family and friends, I have decided that it would be in my best interest to enter the 2017 NFL Draft,” Yearby said in a statement released by the University of Miami. “These past three years have been truly memorable and I will never forget my time here at the University of Miami, a place that has shaped me into the person I am today. Miami has been and always will be my home and I look forward to remaining a part of the South Florida community for years to come.”
Yearby was always considered a solid ball carrier. Even in high school, he was considered the “lead back” while sharing the backfield with eventual Florida State rushing champion Dalvin Cook – who’s also leaving school early and entering the NFL Draft.
While Yearby didn’t have the blazing speed or towering size of other Miami backs, he was still productive in his time in Coral Gables. His best season a Cane came in 2015 – his sophomore season – as he rushed for a team-high 1,002 yards and six touchdowns on 205 carries.
Yearby’s junior year wasn’t as productive since versatile sophomore Mark Walton emerged as the team’s No. 1 option in the backfield and the healthy return of bruising back Gus Edwards made carries hard to come by.
Still, Yearby rushed for 2,119 yards in his collegiate career – good for ninth best all-time in the program’s history.
Miami head coach Mark Richt said Yearby made him aware of his intentions early Tuesday.
“I spoke with Joe earlier today and he made me aware that he planned to declare for the NFL Draft,” said head coach Mark Richt. “I was able to thank Joe for everything he did for our program. I wish him the very best!”
The running back position will still be one of Miami’s strongest heading into 2017.
Barring any unforeseen unfortunate events, Walton will remain the No. 1 ball carrier.
Edwards is also eligible to leave school if he so chooses – as he’s a redshirt junior – but hasn’t intimated towards the notion. Former four-star recruit Travis Homer will be in the mix to get carries in 2017 after being a consistent special teams contributor during his freshman campaign.
Also, Miami should welcome the healthy return of Trayone “Choc” Gray, who missed the 2016 season with a torn ACL. Gray, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound back with exceptional speed, will be a redshirt junior.