Last year he was the hometown starter and star.
This year he was the backup.
University of Miami junior running back Joe Yearby, a father of two young children and a former high school All-American out of Miami Central High, will forgo his senior season to enter the NFL Draft.
Under a new coaching staff, Yearby was supplanted by sophomore Mark Walton, who started all 12 regular-season games and rushed 192 times for 14 touchdowns and 1,065 yards (5.5 yards-per-carry average) – the Atlantic Coast Conference’s fourth leading rusher.
Yearby still played in every game, but was given about half as many carries: 99 touches for 592 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season. He averaged 6 yards-per-carry going into the bowl.
He had three carries in the Russell Athletic Bowl, good for 16 yards.
Last season, in 13 games, Yearby totaled 1,002 rushing yards and six touchdowns, adding 273 receiving yards and another two touchdowns.
His career rushing numbers before the bowl game: 2,103 yards and 14 touchdowns on 376 carries for a 5.6-yards-per-carry average.
“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 released statement. “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’s son is 5 and his daughter will soon turn 2, and he likely needs the money to help raise them.
On Nov. 26, the night of Miami’s final regular-season home game against Duke, Yearby posted a photo of himself, quarterback Brad Kaaya and offensive tackle Kc McDermott on Instagram, with these words: “Last Home Game As a Cane.’’
The post later disappeared.
“I spoke with Joe earlier today and he made me aware that he planned to declare for the NFL Draft,” UM coach Mark Richt said in a statement. “I was able to thank Joe for everything he did for our program. I wish him the very best!”
Returning next season will be tailbacks Walton, Travis Homer, a rising sophomore; Trayone Gray, a junior who redshirted this season while rehabbing from a torn ACL; and if he doesn’t transfer, a scenario that a UM source said was being considered, soon-to-be senior Gus Edwards.