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    LOUISVILLE, Ky. - University of Louisville junior running back Eric Shelton, who tied a school record for rushing touchdowns in a season in 2004, announced today that he will forego his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

    The 6-3, 248-pounder from Lexington, Ky., had his best season in 2004, guiding the Cardinals to an 11-1 record and helping the team set the school record for rushing yards in a season with 3,005.

    "After getting word back from the NFL and the success I had on the field, I decided that this was a great time to fulfill a life long dream of playing in the NFL," said Shelton. "I'm extremely grateful to the University of Louisville and coach Petrino for giving me an opportunity to play, but I feel like I'm ready to take my game to the next level."

    As a junior, Shelton led the Cardinals with 938 yards rushing and tied the school mark for rushing touchdowns in a season with 20. He rushed for a career 158 yards in a 70-7 win over Cincinnati and tied a school record with five touchdowns in a game versus East Carolina. He carried just 146 times, but made the most of his opportunities by averaging 6.4 yards per carry, which is the fifth-best mark in school history.
    "After I received positive feedback from the NFL, I told Eric that he had my support of pursuing his dream of playing in the NFL," said head coach Bobby Petrino. "He talked to his family and decided that leaving the University of Louisville was the best thing for him at this time. Eric's been a tremendous player on the field and an even better student in the classroom. He's worked hard in the weight room and on the field to get better, and has been a positive role model for younger players and fans. I know he'll be successful in the NFL and I wish him all the luck in the world."

    After transferring to Louisville from Florida State following the 2001 season, Shelton had two outstanding seasons with the Cardinals. Shelton rushed for 1,728 yards and 30 touchdowns, which ranks second in school history. The product of Bryan Station High School averaged 5.5 yards per carry for his career, which is fourth in the school annals. He also finished with seven 100-yard games during his tenure.

    Playing only 10 games last year because of injury, Shelton rushed for 790 yards and 10 touchdowns. He opened his U of L career with 151 yards against Kentucky and followed the next week with 135 against Syracuse.

    The Cardinals return four players at running back in sophomores Michael Bush and Kolby Smith, red-shirt freshman Reggie Bradshaw and freshman George Stripling.

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