Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III has decided to enter the NFL draft.
The exciting dual-threat quarterback is bypassing his senior season at Baylor and is projected to be one of the top picks in April.
The news came Tuesday, exactly a month after Griffin became the first Baylor player to win college football’s highest individual honor.
ESPN, citing an anonymous family source, first reported that Griffin was going pro and in the final stages of picking an agent.
A person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press that Griffin opted to declare for the draft. The person spoke Tuesday night on condition of anonymity because the quarterback had not yet made an official announcement.
Baylor officials had indicated this week the possibility of a news conference on campus as early as Wednesday. There was still nothing officially scheduled Tuesday night.
Griffin set or tied 54 school records while playing 41 games at Baylor, and is the school’s career passing leader. He completed 800 of 1,192 passes (67 percent) for 10,366 yards with 78 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. His 2,254 yards and 33 TDs rushing are records for a Bears quarterback.
He completed 291 of 402 passes (72 percent) for 4,293 yards and 37 TDs with only six interceptions this season, when he also ran for 699 yards and 10 more touchdowns. He was the nation’s second-most efficient passer with a 189.48 rating, just behind Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson, whose 191.78 rating came with 93 fewer pass attempts.
The Bears matched a school record with 10 wins and closed the season with a six-game winning streak, including a record-breaking 67-56 victory over Washington in the Alamo Bowl for their first bowl victory since 1992. They were 13th in The Associated Press Top 25 released Tuesday, the first time they were ranked in the final poll since 1986.
Griffin played this season as a fourth-year junior. He had another season of eligibility remaining at Baylor because he got a medical redshirt after he tore the ACL in his right knee in the third game of the 2009 season.
During an interview with the AP last month, Griffin said he wouldn’t be facing a decision on whether to stay for another season had he not gotten hurt two years ago.
“If I come back, people would be like why. If I leave, people at Baylor will be like why,” Griffin said then. “So it’s a tough decision.”
But Griffin’s draft stock rose dramatically this season, especially during the Bears’ last six wins. Griffin and Stanford’s Andrew Luck, the Heisman runner-up, are likely to be the first two quarterbacks selected.
The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is Sunday.
Baylor swept their four November games, including overcoming its biggest fourth-quarter deficit ever with Griffin throwing three TDs before winning in overtime at Kansas. The Bears also beat Oklahoma for the first time, when Griffin threw for 479 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winner with 8 seconds left that came right after the Sooners had overcome a two-TD deficit to tie the game in the final minute.
Griffin has repeatedly said that his NFL decision wouldn’t be about money or draft status. He also said it wouldn’t be about trying to win another Heisman Trophy.
“If it’s time for me to go, then it’s time for me to go,” he said the week after the Oklahoma game. “I’m definitely proud to be part of what’s going on here at Baylor.”
Before going 4-0 in November, Baylor had combined to win only four Big 12 games in November the previous 15 seasons combined. The Bears had never had a winning season in the Big 12 until 2010, in Griffin’s return from the knee injury, when they also ended a 16-year bowl drought with a Texas Bowl appearance.
Griffin arrived at Waco as a 17-year-old freshman in January 2008 after graduating from high school a semester early. He completed an undergraduate degree in political science in December 2010 and has been working on master’s degree in communications.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.