For the second year in a row, the University of Maine football team’s leading rusher is transferring from Orono.

The Black Bears announced Friday that they have granted Ramon Jefferson his release to transfer. As a redshirt freshman last year, Jefferson led Maine with 1,037 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, helping the Black Bears to the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals.

In a release from the school, Maine Coach Nick Charlton said, “Ramon has been granted his release to pursue other opportunities and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Ramon Jefferson had his best game of the 2018 season in the FCS playoffs when he rushed for a career-high 186 yards and two touchdowns in a 55-27 win over Jacksonville State. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Jefferson, who is from New York City, announced his decision to transfer on his Twitter account Friday morning. He thanked his coaches and teammates at Maine for their support, then added, “However, after praying and talking with family I have decided that I will be transferring from The University of Maine to play elsewhere.”

Jefferson became Maine’s lead back last year after Josh Mack transferred to Liberty following his sophomore year. Jefferson had his best game of the season in the FCS second round playoff game when he rushed for a career-high 186 yards and two touchdowns in a 55-27 win over Jacksonville State. He followed that with 88 yards and a touchdown in a 23-18 win over Weber State in the quarterfinals.

He became the first freshman in Maine history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season and was named an FCS All-America honorable mention by HERO Sports.

Jefferson was suspended for spring football after he was arrested in February at his home in Old Town and charged with domestic violence assault and criminal mischief. In May, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief. He was fined $250 and paid $500 in restitution to replace a broken cell phone.

His departure leaves Maine, coming off a 10-4 season and regarded as one of the top FCS teams entering the 2019 season, with just five running backs on the roster. Adrian Velez, who played in three games last fall, and Brandon Washington have also left the program. Both Velez and Washington had participated in spring practice.

Senior Joe Fitzpatrick, from North Yarmouth and Cheverus High, is the only returning running back with any experience. He was Maine’s second-leading rusher last year with 476 yards on 120 carries, along with four touchdowns. Other returning backs include redshirt freshman Zac Bouhalloufa (who led all backs with 41 yards in the spring game) and junior Elijah Brooks.

Newcomers include freshman Curtis Murray from Riverdale Baptist in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, and sophomore Jordan Rowell, a transfer from Northern Illinois. Rowell, 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, from Elmhurst, Illinois, spent two seasons at Northern Illinois, appearing in one game during the 2018 season after sitting out 2017 as a redshirt.