LAS CRUCES — New Mexico State running back Kenny Turner has hired an agent and will not return to New Mexico State University next season, instead opting to enter the NFL Draft, the school announced on Friday.
Turner had a big junior year for the Aggies in 2011, rushing for 1,074 yards on 206 carries (4.9 yards per attempt) while scoring 10 rushing touchdowns. He added 46 catches for 514 yards and three receiving TDs.
Turner played two seasons for NMSU after he rushed for more than 1,500 yards at Fullerton (Calif.) College, earning Junior College All-American honors in 2009 .
In a statement released by the school Turner thanked coach DeWayne Walker and NMSU for giving him a chance to play Division I football.
He said his age (26) is a major factor in a “very difficult” decision to chase his NFL dream immediately.
“When it came down to it I was going to be 27 years old, and in the NFL and at the running back position, age is a factor,” said Turner. “So I need to make the jump from college to the NFL. Again, I appreciate all the support and I enjoyed my time as an Aggie.”
Turner lost five years of football development behind prison walls instead. He was convicted on charges of second-degree felony for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. When he was 16, he shot and injured two people outside a Florida gas station.
“I walked through this process with Kenny (Turner), explaining the pros and cons of declaring for the NFL,” Walker said. “He understands through this process that he must graduate and Kenny promised me that he would take care of that piece of it. There is life after football and he understands that as well. We hate to see him leave but I do understand his decision and we are going to support it.”
Turner’s departure will be a major blow for the Aggies offense. The leading returning rusher would be Robert Clay, who carried 42 times for 133 yards and a touchdown during NMSU’s 4-9 2011 season.
New Mexico State also will be working under another new offensive coordinator, this time former Kent State assistant Jerry McManus.