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N.C. State's Baker not returning for sixth year

RALEIGH — N.C. State tailback Toney Baker has decided not to take advantage of the sixth-year eligibility granted by the NCAA and will not return for next season.

N.C. State released a statement this morning from Baker, who plans on entering this spring's NFL draft.

"After talking to my family, my coaches and doing a lot of praying, I’ve decided that it’s time for me to pursue playing football at the next level," Baker said. "It was a tough decision because I have loved my time at NC State and have really enjoyed playing for Coach O'Brien.  But after weighing all my options, I think this is the right move for me at this time in my life."

Q&A with Pack RB Toney Baker

After missing almost all of the last two seasons with a knee injury, senior Toney Baker returns to the lineup for N.C. State on Thursday night in the season opener against South Carolina.

Baker is listed as the starter at running back on the Wolfpack's depth chart and is completing a rehabilitation effort that started with him being told there was a 50 percent chance he wouldn't play football again. Here's what Baker had to say about returning to the starting lineup:

Good sign for State

• From Sunday's college football notes

After dealing with seemingly every injury and bad break in the book his first two seasons at N.C. State, Wolfpack football coach Tom O'Brien has started Year 3 with a welcomed turn of good fortune.

The return of defensive end Willie Young, who chose a fifth season in Raleigh over a shot at the NFL, is one reason O'Brien thinks 2009 may prove better than the previous two snakebitten seasons.

Pack's Baker to seek sixth year

N.C. State running back Toney Baker plans to petition the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility after missing virtually all of the last two seasons with an injury to his right knee.

Baker is scheduled to be a fifth-year senior in 2009. Under ordinary circumstances, that would mean his college eligibility would expire after the season.

But the NCAA has been known to grant a sixth year in extreme cases where athletes’ careers have been significantly affected by injuries. In the 2007 season opener, Baker tore cartilage off the bone in his knee.

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