Ryan Nall went home for the winter break, still undecided about his football future.
Would he return to Oregon State for his final season, go the graduate transfer route, or declare early for the NFL draft?
So he spent plenty of time talking with those closest to him, as well as reaching out to various agencies to see how NFL scouts and coaches perceive him translating to the next level.
He also met with new Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith about Smith’s vision for the Beavers football program moving forward.
“I was just trying to gather all the information of each aspect, whether it was staying in school, whether it was transferring or obviously going to the NFL,” Nall said Tuesday afternoon after he announced he will declare for April’s NFL Draft.
“I just felt for me the best decision for myself right now and my family would be to leave Oregon State and move on in my football career and go to the NFL.”
Nall leaves Oregon State with the eighth-most rushing yards (2,216) in program history. He is tied for first with 5.8 yards per carry, seventh in rushing touchdowns (24) and tied for seventh with 100-yard games (nine).
The Central Catholic High graduate is the only player in school history with three carries of 75 yards or more.
Underclassmen have until Jan. 15 to declare for the draft. He is the seventh Beaver to declare early, joining Steven Jackson (2004), Brandon Browner (2005), Jacquizz Rodgers (2010), Brandin Cooks (2014), Scott Crichton (2014) and Isaac Seumalo (2016).
“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 said he knows he’s not seen as a first- or second-round pick, but expects to go somewhere on the third day of the draft — the fourth through seventh rounds.
“I figured I’m OK with that and I understand where I would be and I’m happy with that,” Nall said. “I know if I put in the work and I put in all the time necessary, I can (move up).”
Nall plans to train as a running back but could be an H-back, fullback or possibly switch to another position.
“Like it was in college, if they decide to move me to linebacker then so be it. But I’m going to train as a running back and continue to work on my craft, work on my speed, work on my strength and do the best that I can,” he said.
Nall has yet to officially sign with an agent but has made a verbal commitment to one.
Nall said he would like to put together a good 40-yard dash time and may try to lose a little weight to help that process.
Last year’s difficult season, a 1-11 campaign that saw former head coach Gary Andersen leave after six games, also factored into Nall’s ultimate decision.
“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 and I had to factor that in,” he said. “… I don’t blame what happened last year, I don’t want people to think that’s the reason I’m leaving.”
Mike Riley, who gave Nall a shot at Oregon State when he was the head coach before leaving for Nebraska after the 2014 season, contacted Nall and met with him and his family. Nall said Riley, who has returned as an assistant on Smith’s staff, told him how proud he was of him and what he had accomplished.
Still, it was not enough to sway Nall to return.
“That was definitely tough when he reached out to me and told me he was coming back,” Nall said. “… It was definitely hard and pulled at the heart strings.”
While Nall is leaving early, Oregon State will always be in his blood.
“I’m excited to see what the new coaching staff is going to do and I truly do wish them the best of luck,” he said. “… 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.”