Alex Barnes decided that the time was right and on Friday he made it official.
Barnes, Kansas State's junior workhorse running back, announced via Twitter that he will pass up his senior season and turn professional.
"It pains me to leave these guys, but I know that they wouldn't want me to pass up this opportunity to chase my dreams of playing professional football," Barnes said of his teammates in a tweet addressed to Wildcat Nation. "With that said, I am officially declaring for the 2019 NFL Draft.
"I'll do my best to represent all of you, my FAMILY."
Barnes, a 6-foot-1, 225-pounder from Pittsburg, led the Wildcats and the Big 12 in rushing this season with 1,355 yards and 12 touchdowns on 256 carries. It places him fourth all time on K-State's single-season rushing chart.
His 2,616 career yards rank fifth all time in school history.
Barnes' departure leaves a serious void at running back for K-State. Backups Dalvin Warmack and Justin Silmon both were seniors, and sophomore Mike McCoy, a Topeka High product, never played this season because of an injury that could end up being career-threatening.
If McCoy is unable to play, midseason Louisville transfer Harry Trotter would be the Wildcats' most experienced option.
Bill Snyder, who retired as K-State coach on Dec. 2 after 27 seasons, consistently praised Barnes.
"He's a wonderful effort guy," Snyder said of Barnes following a 42-38 season-ending loss at Iowa State. "He's a very talented player — runs hard, runs well. A complete player.
"Probably what's as significant as anything is the fact that — I've said this a hundred times — he practices like he plays. That's what makes him better."
Barnes, who rushed for 184 yards on 28 carries with a touchdown in his final game, also thanked Snyder in his Twitter message.
"I would like to thank Coach Snyder for his consistency in my team at Kansas State," he said. "His goals and expectations were the same for each and every day of practice or workouts, to see improvement from the previous day.
"This is a valuable skill that I will continue to use to help me achieve my future goals."
Barnes finished his career with four straight games of 100-plus yards and broke the century mark seven times in 2018. He ranked third on the team in receiving with 20 catches for 194 yards.
"It's something that you always want to do," Barnes said of his breakout season following the Iowa State game. "It's why I came here, to be a weapon for this offense and be someone who was utilized, and I'm glad this year it was finally able to work out for me that way."
Barnes will not get the chance to showcase his abilities in the postseason after K-State finished 5-7, one victory short of bowl eligibility.
"It feels empty," he said. "It's not where we wanted to be.
"It's not where we were supposed to be. That's the hardest pill to swallow about it."
In his farewell tweet, Barnes acknowledged the K-State fans, as well.
"Through the highs and lows, you have always remained faithful to my teammates and I," he said. "Coming out of that tunnel and seeing 50,000 fans wearing purple truly is a special feeling and one I will never forget."