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Published: Friday, 12/29/2006

Hart to return next season

Michigan running back Mike Hart says, 'We still have things we want to accomplish.' Michigan running back Mike Hart says, 'We still have things we want to accomplish.'
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PASADENA, Calif. - On Wednesday night, Michigan running back Mike Hart said he was "99 percent sure" he would forgo early entry into the NFL and return for his senior season.

By yesterday, he seemed to have found the missing one percent.

The UM junior said he had been swayed by quarterback Chad Henne's decision to return to Ann Arbor for the 2007 season and that he would do the same.

Hart said Henne's decision "just makes it that much easier for me to come back. We came in together and we want to leave together. We still have things we want to accomplish."

Hart has rushed for 1,515 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.

He acknowledged that he had been advised he would likely be a first-round NFL draft pick in a class that includes few premier running backs.

"That's why I don't want to say 100 percent because that would close the door," he said.

Then, yesterday, he went ahead and closed it.

So did Southern Cal quarterback John David Booty, whose team will oppose Michigan here Monday in the Rose Bowl.

"I'm staying, for sure," Booty said. "I waited so long to be in this situation, as the starter at USC, that I'm not going to turn around and give it away."

Booty said he was lobbying teammate Dwayne Jarrett, a 6-foot-5 junior receiver who is expected to be a high pick should he declare for the NFL draft, to remain in school too.

"We'll see what happens Monday, then I'll clear my mind, talk with my family, and make a decision," Jarrett said. "[USC is] going to have a great team next season whether I'm back or not."

- Dave Hackenberg



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