Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III officially announced he will forgo his final year of eligibility at Baylor and enter the 2012 NFL Draft.
Griffin, the No. 3 overall prospect eligible for April's draft by NFLDraftScout.com, met with seven sports agencies and then again with Baylor coach Art Briles as he weighed the decision of whether to return to the Bears for his senior season or enter the draft.
"It was a tough decision, I love the people at this university, love my coach for giving me a chance to be a quarterback," Griffin said.
Ranked second among quarterbacks in the draft class, behind only Stanford redshirt junior Andrew Luck, Griffin is likely to be a top-10 pick. Some project he could be drafted even earlier with multiple quarterback-needy teams, including Cleveland (fourth overall) and Washington (sixth) likely to look for upgrades at the position.
Rob Rang and Dane Brugler both have Griffin going to Cleveland in their current Mock Drafts, and Browns coach Pat Shurmur declined last week to say Colt McCoy will be the team's starting quarterback in 2012.
The deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft is Sunday and, until he signs with an agent, Griffin is permitted to return to Baylor if he withdraws by the Jan. 15 deadline.
Griffin met with prospective agents with Baylor compliance officers present to ensure he wasn't sacrificing his eligibility should he opt to return to college football. He first had his parents, both Army sergeants, interview agents and provide him feedback. But in the end, the choice was clear.
Griffin, 6-2, 220, earned his bachelor's degree a year ago after graduating high school a semester early to enroll in January 2008. He's on pace to earn his masters in communication in May and is engaged to be married.
There are no character-related questions with Griffin, who said he arrived at Baylor with the NFL as a Plan B.
"Plan B can overtake Plan A if they come knocking at your door," he said recently. "Who are you to turn down the NFL."
Indeed, a lot changed for Griffin in the span of one season. At this time last year, he said he received feedback from the NFL Draft Advisory Board that he was likely to be a second- or third-round pick. In a loaded quarterback class that included five quarterbacks in the top 35 selections, Griffin might have been overlooked.
That won't happen in 2012.
Luck, the top-rated overall prospect by NFLDraftScout.com, and Griffin are expected to be the only sure first-round picks among quarterbacks. Some might include Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M, but his raw skills after just two years at the position make him more of a risk.
The injury risk had to be a consideration for Griffin, who missed most of the 2009 season with a knee injury.
After throwing for more than 4,000 yards with 37 touchdowns and only six interceptions, Griffin has opened many eyes. He also had 699 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Former Colts head coach Tony Dungy is on the record that he might even draft Griffin, not Luck, with the first overall pick. He won't be the only one with that opinion, regardless of how flawless the Stanford redshirt junior has been and scouting reports will be in April.
Griffin isn't without some concerns with evaluators, who want to verify his height and weight before projecting him as a franchise quarterback. On appearances alone, there are scouts who are concerned Griffin doesn't have the sturdy build to withstand the rigors of taking pounding in and outside of the pocket in the NFL.
But like Cam Newton in 2011, about whom there were concerns he could throw accurately in an NFL-style offense, it's also worth considering whether Griffin has a reasonable facsimile in the NFL.
Hugh Millen, who played quarterback for 10 seasons in the NFL, was on the field for pregame activities at the Alamo Bowl, and told NFLDraftScout.com's Len Pasquarelli that those with doubts about the size of "RG3" needn't worry.
"I stood next to him and the guy is all of 6-2," said Millen, who is 6-feet-5. "I watched him in warmups without pads, and he's better built than people give him credit for. From a size standpoint, I really didn't feel there were any concerns."
The Heisman Trophy winner is listed by Baylor at 6-feet-2, but there had been a few questions about how Griffin would measure up at the combine.
Griffin said he patterns his game after Steve Young -- a mobile quarterback who thrives on efficiency -- but can't help but see the comparison many have drawn between 2011 No. 1 overall pick Newton and Griffin.
Griffin owns 46 Baylor records, and in 41 games completed 67 percent of his passes (800 of 1,192) for 10,366 yards with 78 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He had 33 rushing touchdowns and 2,254 yards.