STANFORD (CBS 5 / AP) ― Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck said Thursday that he will stay in school for another year instead of entering the NFL draft.
Luck was widely considered to be the No. 1 pick by the Carolina Panthers if he chose to leave school early. But in making his announcement, Luck said that he wanted to remain at Stanford so he can graduate as scheduled next year.
“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”, said Luck.
Luck led the fifth-ranked Cardinal (12-1) to a school-record 12 wins this season. His decision to return to Stanford comes three days after a masterful performance in the Orange Bowl with a 40-12 victory over Virginia Tech.
Stanford is set to finish the season in the top five of the AP poll for the first time since the unbeaten 1940 team finished No. 2.
Luck’s decision to stay at Stanford comes as a shock to those who assumed he would be the top pick in the NFL Draft — and it leaves Carolina particularly unlucky.
The lone bright spot amid Carolina’s NFL-worst 2-14 season was getting the No. 1 overall draft pick and the chance to take Luck as their potential franchise quarterback.
Luck obviously squashed the Panthers’ dreams with the announcement that he’s staying in school.
Luck, the son of former NFL quarterback Oliver Luck, is a major reason why Stanford has gone from a one-win team in 2006 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.
“This is a win-win for him,” Oliver Luck said. “He gets to spend another year at Stanford, be part of team that will be highly ranked again next year, finish his degree and enjoy Palo Alto.”
“It’s not like the NFL is going anywhere, it’s one of the best run leagues in the world. It will still be there when he graduates,” his father explained.
Luck’s father, the athletic director at West Virginia, said that the possibility of an NFL lockout or being selected by the Panthers did not influence his son’s decision.
“Call him old school,” Oliver Luck said. “He comes from a faction of people who believe you go to college to pursue your degree.”
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, had NFL scouts salivating at his potential as a pro.
Luck set Stanford records for TD passes (32), completion percentage (70.7 percent) and passing efficiency (170.2) this past season. He is already being mentioned alongside John Elway, Jim Plunkett, John Brodie and Frankie Albert as one of Stanford’s great quarterbacks.
Now, the only remaining question for Stanford is whether head coach Jim Harbaugh – who has called Luck the greatest player he has ever been around – will also eschew a large NFL payday by returning to the school for another year. That probably won’t happen, as it’s been reported that Harbaugh is receiving giant offers from NFL teams.
Harbaugh met Wednesday with officials with the San Francisco 49ers and was meeting with Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross on Thursday in the Bay Area.
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.
One of Luck’s teammates who won’t be back is linebacker Thomas Keiser, who told the Cardinal he intends to forgo his final year of eligibility to enter the draft. He started all 13 games this season and finished with 38 tackles and nine sacks.
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