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Likely Top NFL Pick Returns to College

Andrew Luck

Andrew Luck (Photo Credit: Getty Images, By: Ezra Shaw)

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(WSCR) – Andrew Luck didn’t win the Heisman Trophy this year as the nation’s best college football player, that honor went to Auburn’s Cam Newton. But Luck was going to be the likely top pick in the NFL Draft.

That was until Luck decided to stay in college to get his degree instead of immediately cashing in on the riches of the NFL.

Luck announced his decision Thursday, more than a week before the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft. Luck, who sat out his first year as a redshirt, has two years of eligibility remaining but is on track to graduate next spring.

“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,” Luck said in a statement issued through the school. Stanford said Luck was not available for further comment.

Luck’s decision to stay at Stanford comes as coach Jim Harbaugh is being wooed by NFL teams for a possible job. Harbaugh met Wednesday with officials with the San Francisco 49ers and was set to meet with Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross on Thursday in the Bay Area, two people with knowledge of the situation said. Both spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the meeting was to remain confidential.

New Denver Broncos chief football executive John Elway has said he hopes to interview Harbaugh for their job.

It’s unclear whether Luck’s decision to stay in school will impact Harbaugh’s decision whether to leave for an NFL job this year. If Harbaugh does leave Stanford, the opportunity to coach Luck next season will likely make Stanford a plum assignment.

Luck was the runner-up this season to Auburn’s Cam Newton for the Heisman Trophy and will now be one of the favorites for next year’s award.

Luck was widely considered the top draft prospect after two spectacular years at Stanford. His decision will be a blow to the Carolina Panthers, who have the No. 1 pick in April’s draft and are looking for a quarterback.

Luck capped this season by completing 18 of 23 passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns in the fifth-ranked Cardinal’s 40-12 victory over No. 12 Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl on Monday night.

That helped Stanford (12-1) extend its school record for wins in a season and has the Cardinal poised to finish in the top five of the AP poll for the first time since the unbeaten 1940 team finished No. 2.

Luck, the son of former NFL quarterback Oliver Luck, is a major reason why Stanford has gone from a one-win team in 2006 before Harbaugh arrived to one of the top teams in the country. He has led Stanford to a 20-5 record in his 25 career starts, only missing last season’s Sun Bowl loss to Oklahoma with a broken right index finger.

Luck has completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 5,913 yards, 45 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his career. He has also rushed for 807 yards and five scores. That athleticism, along with his strong, accurate arm and on-field poise, has had NFL scouts salivating at his potential as a pro.

Harbaugh, a former star quarterback at Michigan and in the NFL, has called Luck the greatest player he has ever been around.

Luck set school records for TD passes (32), completion percentage (70.7 percent) and passing efficiency (170.2) this season. He is already being mentioned alongside John Elway, Jim Plunkett, John Brodie and Frankie Albert as one of Stanford’s great quarterbacks.

AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley and Steven Wine contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. STATS LLC and The Associated Press contributed to this article. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.