Ryan Nall has played his last game for Oregon State.
Nall, a 6-foot-2, 237-pound junior running back from Sandy, announced Tuesday that he has declared for the 2018 NFL Draft.
Nall was the Beavers’ leading rusher the past two seasons and could have returned to Corvallis for his senior year, played for another college team next season as a graduate transfer or opted for the draft.
The Beavers were 1-11 in 2017 and failed to win a Pac-12 game. Jonathan Smith was hired as OSU's new head coach Nov. 29.
A difficult junior season for the Beavers, which included the departure of former head coach Gary Andersen at midseason, factored into Nall’s decision.
“It definitely had a major impact on this decision,” Nall said Tuesday during a conference call with reporters. “Last year, the season that we went through, all the things happening, it definitely took a toll on me, and obviously, it was a part of the decision-making process.
“But I don’t blame what happened last year as the reason for me going. I don’t want people to think that’s the (main) reason I’m leaving.”
Nall said the decision had more to do with the opportunity that awaits in the NFL, and "at the end of the day, I thought it was best for me moving forward."
He had a conversation with Smith before making a final decision.
"I have known Ryan since he was a high school standout in this state, and it has been impressive watching him develop into an outstanding young man with a tremendous future," Smith said in a statement. "Beaver Nation should be proud of what he accomplished at Oregon State, and I'm confident he will be a tremendous representative of this university."
Nall initially was recruited by former OSU coach Mike Riley, who will be part of Smith’s staff next season as the assistant head coach with a to-be-determined position assignment.
In three seasons at OSU, Nall rushed for 2,216 yards to rank eighth in school history. He's also ranked seventh in rushing touchdowns (24) and tied for seventh with nine 100-yard games.
Nall's 5.8 yards per carry average is tied for first, and he is the only player in school history with three carries of 75 yards or more.
Nall is the seventh player in school history to declare for the draft early, joining running back Steven Jackson (2004), cornerback Brandon Browner (2005), running back Jacquizz Rodgers (2010), wide receiver Brandin Cooks (2014), defensive lineman Scott Crichton (2014) and offensive lineman Isaac Seumalo (2016).
Underclassmen have until Jan. 15 to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft, which will be held April 26-28.
Nall is part of a growing list of running backs eligible for the draft including Oregon’s Royce Freeman, Stanford’s Bryce Love and Washington’s Myles Gaskin from the Pac-12.
Throughout his college career, Nall showed surprising speed for a big back. He plans to lose a few pounds through diet and training to improve his 40-yard dash time for OSU’s Pro Day in March.
With Nall’s departure, junior Artavis Pierce (323 yards, one TD in 2017) is the Beavers’ leading rusher due back.
Two of Nall's best games came against Oregon in the Civil War.
He ran for 155 yards and four touchdowns in the Beavers' 34-24 victory over Oregon in Corvallis in 2016 to snap an eight-game Civil War losing streak and 174 yards and one score in his Civil War debut in 2015, a 52-42 loss in Eugene.
“At the end of the day, Oregon State will always be my home, and I will always root for them, and I will always bleed orange and black,” Nall said.
ghorowitz@StatesmanJournal.com or Twitter.com/ghorowitz