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December 12, 2012TUSCALOOSA | University of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron announced he will return for his senior season Wednesday, ending speculation about whether he would entertain the possibility of early NFL draft entry.
"I had many goals for myself when I came to the University of Alabama," McCarron said. "I have been lucky enough to achieve some of those goals, but some are still ahead of me. There were many factors in my decision to return to Alabama for my senior year but, after talking with my family and coaches, I knew it was the right choice for me."
According to a source close to McCarron, one of those many factors included the deep pool of prospects at the quarterback position expected to be available in next April's NFL Draft. Although informal feedback from the NFL has indicated McCarron would rate favorably in that group, the source said, the 2014 quarterback class is thinner and thus a better draft for McCarron. Among those expected to be part of the 2013 quarterback class are Southern Cal's Matt Barkley, Arkansas' Tyler Wilson, Tennessee's Tyler Bray, Oklahoma's Landry Jones, Florida State's E.J. Manuel, North Carolina State's Mike Glennon and West Virginia's Geno Smith. Georgia's Aaron Murray may opt to turn pro as well.
Meanwhile, a third season as Alabama's starting quarterback will provide McCarron with a platform to further refine his skills.
"The NFL has long been a dream, but I think another year at Alabama can only help my chances of being successful at the next level," McCarron added.
The Mobile native leads the nation in passing efficiency at 173.1 going into the Crimson Tide's BCS National Championship Game appearance against Notre Dame. He has passed for 2,669 yards and a single-season school record 26 touchdowns against only three interceptions. He is 24-2 as a starter for the Crimson Tide.
"We are pleased that AJ has decided to return for his senior year next season," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "He's done a great job for us and has really grown, not only as a quarterback and a player, but as a leader of our team."
Like McCarron, right tackle D.J. Fluker released a similar statement last year through UA media relations to end NFL Draft rumors last December. This year, Fluker and cornerback Dee Milliner are among the Crimson Tide juniors expected to receive the highest draft grades for possible early NFL draft entry. Underclassmen apply for official feedback from the NFL Draft Advisory Board, and typically receive a response in early January.
Reach Chase Goodbread at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0196.
TIDSPORTS.COM Premium Recruiting: Get the latest on Jai Miller's recruitment ... And get the scoop straight from the Alabama-Mississippi All-Stars practice week from Tidesports' Andrew Bone.