article QB-turned-receiver decides to end his career -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- By Len Pasquarelli ESPN.com In a stunning move, but one that he said came after "a lot of thought and consideration," Heisman Trophy winner and St. Louis Rams rookie receiver Eric Crouch is retiring from football. The former Nebraska star, who thanked the Rams organization and its fans, will officially leave the game on Thursday. "I've played a lot of football from the time I was eight years old, benefited from this game and the opportunities it gave me, not to mention the friends I've made around the world," Crouch said late Wednesday from the offices of St. Louis-based agents Jim Steiner and Ben Dogra. "But I cannot in good conscience take a spot on this team." Crouch, 23, said he is retiring primarily because injuries have prevented him from playing at the level to which he has been accustomed. He plans to return to his home in Omaha. A third-round choice in this year's draft, Crouch was attempting to make the transition from quarterback to wide receiver and, despite battling through injuries in camp, Rams coach Mike Martz insisted the rookie would develop in time into a quality pass catcher. Crouch was more pragmatic about his chances at the new position. Martz told The Associated Press on Wednesday night that Crouch informed him of his decision last Friday. Crouch did not make the trip to Denver for the team's regular-season opener Sunday and has not practiced with the team since then. Martz has closed practices for the first three weeks of the season, and the Rams had not made an announcement. "This has caught us all by surprise,'' Martz said. "He came in Friday and told me the news.'' Steiner said that Crouch first broached the possibility of retirement to him last Friday and emphasized that his client had discussed his decision with Martz and senior Rams officials. "I was certainly surprised when he first told me about it," Steiner said. "We have talked about it for many hours and he is comfortable with the decision. Obviously, it was a difficult thing, but it's the right thing for him." Crouch appeared in 42 games for the Cornhuskers and started 38 of them. He is one of only 13 players in college football history to both rush and pass for over 1,000 yards in a season. Crouch is one of only three players at the Division I-A level to throw for 4,000 yards and run for 3,000 yards in his career, and he also holds the NCAA career record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. In addition to the Heisman Trophy, he also captured the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award for 2001 and the Davey O'Brien Quarterback Award. He is the most decorated quarterback in Nebraska history and is one of the most prolific offensive players in recent history of the college game. At Nebraska, Crouch completed 312 of 606 passes for 4,481 yards, with 29 touchdown passes and 25 interceptions. Crouch carried 648 times for 3,434 yards and scored 59 rushing touchdowns during his college career. Crouch signed a three-year, $1.3 million contract that included a signing bonus of $395,000. Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.