FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Ryan Mallett took a close look at the NFL last year before deciding to return to Arkansas. The Razorbacks junior liked what he saw this time around, declaring for the draft Thursday night.
Mallett, who led the Razorbacks to their first BCS bowl game this season, leaves the school after two seasons as the starting quarterback. He led the SEC in passing, throwing for 3,592 yards and 30 touchdowns. He added to that in Arkansas' 31-26 loss to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, throwing for 277 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
"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 mind-set to expect greatness," Mallett said in a statement. "There is no doubt we got there together, and this program will continue to play games on the biggest stages."
Mallett, who transferred from Michigan, broke the school record for most touchdown passes in a season (30) in 2009, then broke that record again this season with 32 touchdown passes.
Staying, going: These players also announced their intention to leave school early and enter the NFL draft: Virginia Tech running back Darren Evans, Stanford linebacker Thomas Keiser and Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt.
Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus is expected to join running back Mark Ingram in announcing today that he is heading to the NFL, several media outlets reported.
Oklahoma All-America junior receiver Ryan Broyles said he would return to school, as did Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck (see Sideline, 1C).
GoDaddy.com Bowl: Austin Boucher threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns and Miami of Ohio capped its turnaround season with a 35-21 win over Middle Tennessee in Mobile, Ala. The RedHawks (10-4) are the first team in Division I-A history to win 10 games one season after losing at least 10 (1-11 in 2009). MTSU (6-7) was hurt by five turnovers as Miami's Dayonne Nunley recovered a fumble and returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown.
Rodriguez wanted more time: Fired Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said he's disappointed to be leaving so soon. The last three years of his contract were bought out Wednesday after he went 15-22 in three seasons. "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," he said in a statement.
More Michigan matters: Former athletic director Bill Martin, who hired Rodriguez, said he agreed with athletic director Dave Brandon's decision to fire Rodriguez but added, "We'll never know what would've happened if Rich got full support from the Michigan family."
LSU coach Les Miles, a Wolverines alum, said he had not had contact with Michigan about the job. "I very much enjoy where I'm at," said Miles, whose team meets Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl tonight.
Though reportedly Michigan had expressed some interest in Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald, the Associated Press reported that the coach would decline.
Rutgers player moving: Injured Scarlet Knights defensive tackle Eric LeGrand has movement in his shoulders and sensation throughout his body, the school announced. LeGrand, 20, injured his spinal column Oct. 16 making a tackle on a kickoff return against Army.
Division I-AA: Southwest Texas State quarterback Jeremy Moses won the Walter Payton Award, given to the top player in I-AA. He completed 303 of 499 passes for 3,658 yards and 34 touchdowns.