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Justin Herbert to Forgo 2019 NFL Draft, Return to Oregon for Senior Season

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistDecember 26, 2018

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert throws down field against Arizona State during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)
Chris Pietsch/Associated Press

Justin Herbert will forgo the 2019 NFL draft and return to school for his senior season. 

Oregon's star quarterback announced his decision Wednesday:

Oregon Football @oregonfootball

There was one more present under the tree. #GoDucks https://t.co/ALeRv0zc1G

A 247Sports 3-star recruit coming out of high school, Herbert quickly became one of the nation's top passers after he grabbed the starting job as a freshman in 2016. Herbert threw for 1,866 yards and 19 touchdowns in seven starts, becoming the first true freshman to start at quarterback for the Ducks since 1983.

He followed that strong performance by completing an impressive 67.5 percent of his passes as a sophomore but missed five games in 2017 because of a broken collarbone. Herbert completed 59.6 percent of his passes for a career-high 2,985 yards and 28 touchdowns in 12 games as a junior in 2018.

Former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti believes Herbert "regressed" last year, per The Oregonian's John Canzano, so another season in Eugene could help the Ducks star's development.

Still, he had a good chance of being the first quarterback off the board on April 25. The 6'6", 233-pound signal-caller has good size, pocket presence and a strong arm. He also has the mobility to pick up rushing yards.

One of his biggest knocks is he doesn't have much experience in playing an entire season. Even though this was Herbert's third year in Eugene, it marked the first time he appeared in double-digit contests. He didn't move into the starting lineup until game No. 6 as a freshman. Now, he will get a chance to prove he can play a full year. 

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As of Nov. 16, Herbert was the ninth-ranked prospect on Matt Miller's NFL draft big board. In a defense-heavy class, he was both Miller's top-rated quarterback and top-rated offensive player. 

Herbert's return gives Oregon a huge win as the program chases its first Pac-12 title since 2014. The Ducks are 8-4 and will play Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl on Dec. 31. 

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