Most believed Stanford redshirt sophomore QB Andrew Luck would declare for the NFL draft and most analysts agreed he would be taken with the number one overall selection. Instead, Luck announced on Thursday that he would return to Stanford for his junior season.
He currently has two years of eligibility remaining.
Although Luck will not be made available for comments, he did release a statement which read, in part: “I am committed to earning my degree in architectural design from Stanford University and am on track to accomplish this at the completion of the spring quarter of 2012.”
To many, the news comes as a surprise. Even with loads of guaranteed money awaiting him at the NFL level and the Carolina Panthers asserting that they would pick him with the first overall draft selection, Luck decided to return to one of the most prestigious universities in the nation to complete his degree – and play a little football, too.
Luck will return to a Stanford squad that went 12-1 and beat Virginia Tech handily in the school’s first BCS bowl game – the Orange Bowl.
The football nation is unsure of where Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh will end up, but with Luck returning to Stanford, one thing is clear: the Pac-12 will be an extremely difficult conference in its inaugural 2011 season. Two Pac-10 teams – Oregon and Stanford – are expected to finish ranked in the top 4 to finish the college football season.
For Oregon, the return of Andrew Luck will certainly make the 2011 season much more difficult. The Cardinal jumped to an early 21-3 lead at Autzen Stadium this year before the Ducks turned things around and wound up with a 52-31 victory, including 28 unanswered second-half points.
In that game, Luck threw for 341 yards and 2 touchdowns – although the Ducks did pick off two passes.
Unfortunately for Oregon, they’ll have to travel to Stanford on November 11 to face the Cardinal away from the friendly confines of Autzen Stadium. And since they’ll be fresh off an incredible season, you can expect a packed house supporting the Cardinal in their efforts to overtake the Oregon Ducks for Pac-12 supremacy.
With another year of experience for both Luck and his receiving core, Stanford will be expected to contend for the first-ever Pac-12 North title. Whichever team in the Pac-12 North finishes with the best conference record will represent the division in the Pac-12 Championship game.
Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, Cal, and Stanford make up the North division, meaning either Oregon or Stanford – barring some amazing phenomena – will likely play in the Pac-12 Championship game.
Luck threw for 3,228 yards 32 touchdowns this year, including a staggering 71% completion rate with just 8 interceptions. And he did all of this while rushing for 513 yards.
The 2011 college football season just got a whole lot more interesting.
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