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College football notebook

Luck is returning to Stanford

Mallett among those declaring for draft

Miami of Ohio wideout Nick Harwell looks to shake off Middle Tennessee’s Rod Issac after making a first-half reception in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. Miami of Ohio wideout Nick Harwell looks to shake off Middle Tennessee’s Rod Issac after making a first-half reception in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. (Dave Martin/Associated Press)
Associated Press / January 7, 2011

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Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck has decided to stay in college to get his degree instead of immediately cashing in on the riches of being the likely No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.

Luck announced his decision yesterday, more than a week before the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft. Luck, who sat out his first year as a redshirt, has two years of eligibility remaining but is on track to graduate next spring.

“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,’’ Luck said in a statement issued through the school. Stanford said Luck was not available for further comment.

It’s unclear whether Luck’s decision will impact Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh’s decision whether to leave for an NFL job this year. If Harbaugh does leave, the opportunity to coach Luck next season will likely make Stanford a plum assignment.

Luck was the runner-up this season to Auburn quarterback Cam Newton for the Heisman Trophy and will be one of the favorites for next year’s award.

Luck was widely considered the top draft prospect after two spectacular years at Stanford. His decision will be a blow to the Carolina Panthers, who have the No. 1 pick in April’s draft and are looking for a quarterback.

Luck capped his season by completing 18 of 23 passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns in the fifth-ranked Cardinal’s 40-12 victory over No. 12 Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl Monday night. That helped Stanford (12-1) extend its school record for wins in a season, and the Cardinal are poised to finish in the top five of the AP poll for the first time since the unbeaten 1940 team finished No. 2.

Oliver Luck, the quarterback’s father and a former NFL signal-caller who is 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.

“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.’’

One of the nation’s other top quarterbacks is making the jump to the NFL. Ryan Mallett of Arkansas declared for the draft last night after throwing for 32 touchdowns this season, including two in the Sugar Bowl Tuesday night.

According to ESPN.com, Alabama will hold a news conference today to announce that running back Mark Ingram, the 2009 Heisman winner, and defensive end Marcell Dareus are declaring for the draft. The website also said wide receiver Julio Jones is likely to follow.

Others who announced their intention of entering the draft were Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt, Virginia Tech tailback Darren Evans, and Stanford linebacker Thomas Keiser.

All-America wide receiver Ryan Broyles is returning to Oklahoma, and according to an e-mail sent from his father to the AP, freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez will return to Nebraska.

LeGrand improving Rutgers announced the improvement in Eric LeGrand’s condition, citing an interview the player had recently with ESPN. LeGrand, a 20-year-old defensive tackle, has movement in his shoulders and sensation throughout his body. It marked the first update in LeGrand’s condition since last month, when the university announced that the player had some feeling in his hands.

LeGrand was hurt on Oct. 16 against Army in a game at New Meadowlands Stadium. He was initially diagnosed as paralyzed from the neck down, but doctors later upgraded his condition to an incomplete paralysis. He was taken off a ventilator in November.

“He believes that he’s going to be up and moving again,’’ Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. “There’s no doubt in his mind.’’

Moving on at Michigan Rich Rodriguez, who didn’t comment the day he was let go as Michigan’s coach, refused to lash out at his many detractors about 30 hours after he was fired with a 15-22 record.

“While I am disappointed to depart Ann Arbor before we were able to reach the level of success we had in our sights, I am confident that the players who remain have the potential to do great things and to return the Wolverines to greatness,’’ Rodriguez said in a statement released by the school.

Athletic director Dave Brandon said the Michigan community has been “divided to a large extent’’ regarding Rodriguez’s successor.

“Clearly, if we want to be successful, if we want to be successful as a football program, as an athletic department, and we want our university to really represent what we are all about, we need to rally around our new coach. Don’t find fault, don’t make hasty judgments before they arrive on campus,’’ Brandon said.

According to a person familiar with the situation, Michigan expressed interest in Pat Fitzgerald, but he will remain Northwestern’s coach.

Father of all revivals Austin Boucher threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns in his fourth career start and Miami of Ohio capped a historic turnaround season with a 35-21 win over Middle Tennessee in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

The RedHawks (10-4) are the first team in Bowl Subdivision history to win 10 games one season after losing 10. Miami finished 1-11 in 2009, but recovered to win the Mid-American Conference title and finish this season on a six-game winning streak.

MTSU (6-7) was hurt by five turnovers. Miami’s Dayonne Nunley was responsible for two of them, recovering a fumble and returning an interception 52 yards for a score. MTSU’s Dwight Dasher was picked off four times.

FCS decided tonight Delaware will attempt to win its second national title since 2003 tonight when the Blue Hens (12-2) take on first-time finalist Eastern Washington (12-2) in the Championship Subdivision finale in Frisco, Texas. Delaware lost the title game in 2007 with Joe Flacco at quarterback. This season, the Blue Hens’ Pat Devlin led the FCS by completing 68.3 percent of his passes. He threw for 2,812 yards and 22 touchdowns with just two interceptions. Eastern Washington’s star running back, Taiwan Jones, is unlikely to play because of a foot injury. Eastern Washington was ranked No. 1 in the final regular-season polls, with Delaware fifth . . . Stephen F. Austin quarterback Jeremy Moses won the Walter Payton Award as the top player in the FCS. Eastern Washington senior linebacker J.C. Sherritt won the Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive player, and Tony Samuel of Southeast Missouri State was named the top coach.