Arkansas Razorback quarterback Ryan Mallett has decided to forgo his senior season and head to the NFL.
Few expected the fourth year junior to stick around when he could have gone pro last year, but the University of Arkansas is expected to make a formal release on the news shortly.
Mallett is just three credit hours (one course) shy of getting his degree, and he should be able to complete that class online. Mallett completed 266 of 411 passes (64.7 percent) for 3,869 yards, 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He improved his completion percentage from 55.8 percent as a junior nearly 10 percentage points and improved his passer rating from 152.5 to 163.8.
Most experts project him as a top 20 pick, but the junior with the live arm could improve his stock even more now that Stanford redshirt sophomore Andrew Luck has opted to return for his junior season. Mallett will also outperform all other quarterbacks in terms of arm strength at the combine.
The All-SEC performer led the Razorbacks to a 10-win season in 2010 but threw an interception on the last pass of his UA career in the 31-26 loss to Ohio State at the Buckeye 17-yard line.
Update: The Official UA Release
The following statement is from Ryan Mallett:
"After careful consideration, I have decided to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft. Ever since I was a kid, my dream has always been to play for the Razorbacks and I am thankful I had the opportunity to do so. A year ago, when I returned to school I said I wanted to help lead this team to a place among the nation's elite and for the Razorback community to have a mindset to expect greatness. There is no doubt we got there together and this program will continue to play games on the biggest stages and when it does we'll come out swinging. Playing in the NFL is a goal of mine and I am grateful to the people that have prepared me to take the next step. Coach (Bobby) Petrino is a winner, a man of character and the hardest worker I have ever seen. I'd also like to thank Coach (Garrick) McGee for everything he has done for me and in particular helping develop my mental approach to the game. The leadership of Chancellor David Gearhart and Director of Athletics Jeff Long is a model for me and I am extremely appreciative of the tireless work they do for all University of Arkansas students every day. The Razorback fans are the greatest in the country and their support for me and the team throughout my career has been humbling. Arkansas is where my heart is and I'm proud to say that I will always be a Razorback."
Statement from University of Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino:
"I am very proud of Ryan Mallett and I can't say enough about what he has done for this program. Leaders do their job extremely well and lift everyone around them to compete better and Ryan does those things. One of the greatest parts about coaching is watching individuals become adults while they are in college and Ryan has certainly developed not just as a player, but as a person. I know Ryan will be successful in life and I wish him the best in the NFL."