Originally created 01/15/04

Auburn trio announces decision to return



AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn tailbacks Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown will again be vying for carries next season, and cornerback Carlos Rogers will be shadowing Southeastern Conference receivers again.

All three announced Wednesday they would return for their senior seasons instead of entering the NFL draft, good news for a program that badly needed some.

"It was a great day for Auburn," coach Tommy Tuberville said at a news conference. "Obviously, it's a relief for all of us, because I know how these three guys have struggled" with the decision.

"They took every piece of information they could get, they looked at it and weighed it," he said, "And they waited until the last minute, and I mean the last minute. Y'all found out the same time I did."

Williams and Brown, who each have a 1,000-yard season on their resumes, both said feedback from NFL officials indicated they could be taken as high as the second round. Rogers said he was projected as "no later than a fourth-round pick."

Williams rushed for 1,307 yards and 17 touchdowns in his first injury-free season to earn All-Southeastern Conference honors.

"I feel if it's meant to be for me to play at the next level, it's going to happen," he said. "I couldn't pass up a chance to stay in college and be with these guys and live the college life, which I love right now."

Williams said he didn't make a final decision until Wednesday morning, citing a chance to complete his degree and pursue on-the-field accolades as well.

"On the field, I want to be one of the best backs in the country," said Williams, who rushed for a school-record six touchdowns against Mississippi State. "I want to be a definite first-round pick. I want to go chase the Heisman."

Brown gained 1,008 yards as a sophomore with Williams sidelined much of the season with a broken leg, but was slowed by ankle and hamstring injuries. He and junior college transfer Brandon Jacobs both gained 446 yards.

Williams and Brown scored two touchdowns apiece in Auburn's victory over Wisconsin in the Music City Bowl. The win completed an 8-5 season for a team that opened the season ranked No. 6.

Brown, who is on track to graduate in May, said even being considered a potential second-round pick is "exciting."

"If I can come back and commit myself a little bit more to football this year and not have to worry about school, then maybe that can go up a little bit," he said.

Rogers had 29 tackles and one interception as a junior after picking off a team-high four passes the previous season.

"It was back and forth, 50-50," he said of his decision. "It's kind of like recruiting, you don't know what to believe."