Andrew Luck had a fantastic game against Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl in Miami. He threw for four TD passes in a 40-12 win.
Luck led the Cardinal to a 12-1 season, with their only loss coming on the road in Eugene at the University of Oregon.
The Stanford quarterback was expected to come out and enter the NFL draft. He was projected as the "can't miss" prospect for this decade. Nonetheless, Luck decided to stay at Stanford for his redshirt junior season.
If Luck had left, the Carolina Panthers would likely have been his destination.
Luck cited that he wanted to enjoy the college football experience and work toward his degree in architectural design.
His statement was, "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 in 2012."
Then his head coach Jim Harbaugh signed a five-year, $25 million deal to coach the San Francisco 49ers.
The great thing is that Luck came in with a strong recruiting class, and coming back will help recruits commit quicker, even with Harbaugh exiting. Stanford will be as good as, if not better than, it was last season. Stanford will be expected to have a top 10 recruiting class with Luck returning.
I also think it will be great for Luck to stay another year and get comfortable with the pro offensive systems that it takes most other quarterbacks a while to learn. The only issue now becomes Stanford hiring a quality coach that has a pro-style system. The Pac-10 conference should be competitive next season and help Luck grow toward the NFL.
The upside to all this is Luck's recent example for his decision in following the footsteps of St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford. Bradford ultimately decided to stay at Oklahoma after winning the Heisman Trophy and getting to the BCS National Championship Game.
While Bradford was injured for the majority of the season, not contending for a national championship and only playing two games, he still went first overall in the NFL draft.
In addition to Bradford, several of his teammates stayed, including DT Gerald McCoy, T Trent Williams and TE Jermaine Gresham. The extra year did not hurt their money at all.
This was the turnout of the first round of the NFL draft of the players that stayed an extra year, according to NFL Network Insiders Jason La Canfora and Michael Lombardi:
|1.||Sam Bradford||QB||St. Louis||Signed||Six years, $78 million ($50M guaranteed)|
|2.||Ndamukong Suh||DT||Detroit||Signed||Five years, $68 million ($40M guaranteed)|
|3.||Gerald McCoy||DT||Tampa Bay||Signed||Five years, $63 million ($35M guaranteed)|
|4.||Trent Williams||OT||Washington||Signed||Six years, $60 million ($36.75M guaranteed)|
|5.||Eric Berry||SS||Kansas City||Signed||Six years, $60 million ($34M guaranteed)|
|6.||Russell Okung||OT||Seattle||Signed||Six years, $46.5 million ($29.5M guaranteed)|
|7.||Joe Haden||CB||Cleveland||Signed||Five years, $50M million ($26M guaranteed)|
|8.||Rolando McClain||LB||Oakland||Signed||Five years, $40 million ($23M guaranteed)|
|9.||C.J. Spiller||RB||Buffalo||Signed||Five years, $37 million ($20.8M guaranteed)|
|10.||Tyson Alualu||DE||Jacksonville||Signed||Five years, $28 million ($17.5M guaranteed)|
|11.||Anthony Davis||OT||San Francisco||Signed||Five years, $26.5 million ($16M guaranteed)|
|12.||Ryan Mathews||RB||San Diego||Signed||Five years, $25.65 million ($15M guaranteed)|
|13.||Brandon Graham||DE||Philadelphia||Signed||Five years, $22 million ($14M guaranteed)|
|14.||Earl Thomas||SS||Seattle||Signed||Five years, $21.1 million ($12.32M guaranteed)|
|15.||Jason Pierre-Paul||DE||N.Y. Giants||Signed||Five years, $20.05 million ($11.629M guaranteed)|
|16.||Derrick Morgan||DE||Tennessee||Signed||Five years (financial terms undisclosed)|
|17.||Mike Iupati||G||San Francisco||Signed||Five years, $18.25 million ($10.8M guaranteed)|
|18.||Maurkice Pouncey||C||Pittsburgh||Signed||Five years (financial terms undisclosed)|
|19.||Sean Witherspoon||LB||Atlanta||Signed||Five years, $17.5 million ($10.5M guaranteed)|
|20.||Kareem Jackson||CB||Houston||Signed||Five years, $16.3 million ($13.35M guaranteed)|
|21.||Jermaine Gresham||TE||Cincinnati||Signed||Five years $15.8 million ($9.6M guaranteed)|
|22.||Demaryius Thomas||WR||Denver||Signed||Five years, $15.5 million ($9.35M guaranteed)|
|23.||Bryan Bulaga||OT||Green Bay||Signed||Five years, $14.75 million ($8.76M guaranteed)|
|24.||Dez Bryant||WR||Dallas||Signed||Five years, $11.8 million ($8.3M guaranteed)|
|25.||Tim Tebow||QB||Denver||Signed||Five years, $11.25 million ($8.7M guaranteed)|
|26.||Dan Williams||DT||Arizona||Signed||Five years, $13.2 million ($8M guaranteed)|
|27.||Devin McCourty||CB||New England||Signed||Five years, $13.2 million ($7.825M guaranteed)|
|28.||Jared Odrick||DT||Miami||Signed||Five years, $13.07 million ($7.13M guaranteed)|
|29.||Kyle Wilson||CB||N.Y. Jets||Signed||Five years, $13 million ($7M guaranteed)|
|30.||Jahvid Best||RB||Detroit||Signed||Five years, $12.7 million ($7.1M guaranteed)|
|31.||Jerry Hughes||DE||Indianapolis||Signed||Five years, $12.67 million ($7M guaranteed)|
|32.||Patrick Robinson||CB||New Orleans||Signed||Five years, $12.25 million ($7M guaranteed)|
Sam Bradford, Gerald McCoy and Jermaine Gresham still had high paydays from the NFL draft when they could have exited college football. While staying in school hurt Matt Leinart after winning the Heisman, I do not expect the same from Luck because he has a lot more talent than Leinart.
The only thing that might hurt Luck's money is the current NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. Luck might face a decline in money with the NFL considering using the rookie pay scale wages that were implemented by the NBA. The veterans do not want a rookie making millions of dollars without playing a down.
Luck will lose well between $40 million and $50 million guaranteed. He potentially could lose out on more because of his tag as "the sure thing."
Luck not entering the NFL draft will certainly boost Blaine Gabbert, Marcell Dareus, Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett.
Overall, I think Luck made the right choice because he does not want to get signed and have to sit through the labor discussions. Many have questioned Luck not leaving, but I think it's a great move because of the CBA uncertainty. I also think that it'd be nice to sit through another season to see if there's another option better than the Carolina Panthers.
Luck will definitely be a great NFL player. He has the physical tools and knows how to run the pro offense, so expect him either way to get a big contract in the NFL.
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