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Auburn RB Kamryn Pettway plans 2017 return, cites ‘unfinished business’

Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway warms up for game against Arkansas St. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway warms up for game against Arkansas St. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Running back Kamryn Pettway didn’t want to leave Auburn fans hanging.

After winning the offensive MVP award at the program’s year-end banquet. Pettway announced plans to return for his junior year on Twitter.

Pettway could have asked the NFL’s College Advisory Committee to evaluate his draft prospects this month before the NCAA’s mid-January deadline for declaring. The running back bypassed the process in pledging to return.

“For all of the Auburn fans asking I will be back next season. I have some unfinished business!” Pettway tweeted.

The decision wasn’t totally unexpected.

The Prattville alum’s father Orlando Pettway told the Ledger-Enquirer in late November it would be hard for Kamryn to leave considering the way the regular season ended.

“I think he will want another shot,” Pettway said. “He also graduates in May, which is something I know is important to him. I think that could all factor in.”

A quad injury forced Pettway to miss two of Auburn’s final three games including the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. He played in the Iron Bowl, but had one of his worst games of the season with 12 carries for 17 yards.

Pettway led the league in rushing at the time of the injury, but his sting on the sidelines caused him to tumble down the standings to sixth. The running back finished the regular season with 1,123 yards and seven touchdowns.

The third-year sophomore’s decision comes on the heels of ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. weighing in on Pettway’s draft grade.

Kiper praised extended midseason run of four straight 150-plus yard performances — “he was unbelievable until injury” — in explaining a third-round projection.

The day two grade would have put Pettway in line for a contract worth upwards of $4 million, but Kiper said a glut of talent at the position were factors to consider.

“It depends on who is going to take a running back at that point with not many teams in the NFL needing one,” Kiper said.

Pettway will turn his attention to getting healthy for the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, a game coach Gus Malzahn expects the running back to play in.

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

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