The deadline for early entry into the NFL Draft passed Wednesday night, and June Henley wasn't on the list.
Henley, Kansas University's junior tailback from Columbus, Ohio, considered passing up his senior season at KU to try his luck in the draft, but he decided Wednesday not to apply.
"He's not going out," Henley's mom, Mary Henley, said Wednesday. "I think he just weighed things as far as education. He needs to think along those lines. It had to do with his decision to get his degree. I told him he needed to think about school."
Still, Henley gave the pros serious consideration. The Big Eight's offensive freshman of the year in 1993, Henley has 2,592 career rushing yards. He led KU this past season in all-purpose yards with 115.5 yards per game.
"He was serious about (the NFL) at one time," Mary Henley said. "Because of the coach there thinking about leaving, that was definitely a decision at that time."
KU head coach Glen Mason's decision to go to Georgia had Henley thinking about the pros during the Jayhawks' trip to Hawaii for the Aloha Bowl. Mason reversed course, and Henley said he had all but committed to returning to Kansas for his senior year.
However, the decision by Ohio State wide receiver Terry Glenn to forego his senior year made Henley reconsider. Glenn grew up in the Henley household and became something akin to kin to Henley. Henley refers to Glenn as his brother.
"I think Terry's decision made (Henley) think about it," Mary Henley said. "But really his decision really had to do with him getting his degree."
Henley discussed the possibility of turning pro with Mason while the team was in Hawaii. When he returned to Columbus for winter break, he also met with his high school coach, Brookhaven's Gregg Miller. And he talked this week with KU assistant coach Mitch Browning.
"I know he was a little disappointed with how he was used this year," Miller said of Henley's new role as a tailback-wide receiver. "My suggestion was to talk to the coaches and see what their plans were. If next year was going to be a repeat, I'm not sure he'd want to be there.
"He wants to carry the ball. He understands there has to be more than one back. But he didn't think his talents were used the right way, and I agree with him."
Mason played the waiting game on Wednesday. As of late afternoon, Mason hadn't heard from Henley.
"I don't know if I'll ever hear anything," Mason said. "I'll probably read about it in the paper."
Mason said he didn't try to convince Henley either way.
"I want what's best for June," Mason said. "If it's best for June Henley, I want him to do it, and I want him to go No. 1 and make a lot of money. Would I like to have him back? Sure I would. But I also want him to do what's best for him."
Given the number of running backs already in this year's draft, Henley likely wouldn't have been a high pick. Stars like Ohio State's Eddie George and early exits such as Lawrence Phillips (Nebraska), Karim Abdul-Jabbar (UCLA) Leeland McElroy (Texas A&M;) and Michigan's Tshimanga Biakabatuka have made it a running back-rich draft.
"That's one thing I told June," Miller said. "Because of the kind of numbers those guys put up, he wouldn't warrant a first-round pick. There are too many running backs coming out this year. June could be one of the top backs next year -- if he's used the right way."