EUGENE -- Oregon junior quarterback Justin Herbert waited until a day after Christmas to give Ducks fans their gift. The projected top overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft announced he will be returning to the Ducks for his senior season.
This is huge news for an Oregon team that, at times, seemed like a double-digit win team this season. With Herbert coming back and many weapons returning, there is a good chance the Ducks are the projected winners of the Pac 12 entering next season. If his top receiver, Dillon Mitchell, decides to return as well, the offense could be downright scary.
Herbert released the following statement, announcing his decision: “The University of Oregon has been a special place to me for as long as I can remember. Words will never be able to express my feelings of gratitude toward the people that have built and maintain our program,” Herbert said. “What I have come to realize, though, is that nothing could pull me away from the opportunities that we have in front of us."
"As we prepare for our bowl game, I would like to ensure that there are no distractions outside of this game. My commitment to my teammates, our coaches, Duck fans, and the University of Oregon has never been stronger. I’ll be returning to the University of Oregon for my senior year. Go Ducks!”
The announcement builds on the momentum the program has built over the past several weeks, landing top recruits including ESPN 300 No. 1 overall recruit, DE Kayvon Thibodeaux. It is the first time in school history the No. 1 overall recruit has elected to go to Eugene.
Perhaps the happiest man to hear the news was head coach Mario Cristobal.
“We couldn’t be more excited for Justin to return for his senior season. He is a special talent on the field, but, more importantly, a special person and leader off the field,” Cristobal said.
“Being a native of Oregon, Justin wanted to make sure the announcement was made here in Eugene before we left for the bowl game. As a two-time Academic All-American, he embodies what we want our culture to be and is a great representative of our University and community. We are fortunate to have him in our program.”
Herbert is from right down the road. He played his high school football at nearby Sheldon High School, where his brother, Patrick, just wrapped up his senior season. The two might connect on a few passes next year as Patrick, a tight end, will begin his freshman season at Oregon in 2019.
There are many Oregon records Herbert is now likely to shatter in his senior season. He ranks third in school history in career passing touchdowns (62), third in completion percentage (62.7), and sixth in passing yards. He is just 96 passing yards shy of 7,000 for his career.
Herbert and his teammates will take on Michigan State on New Year's Eve in the Redbox Bowl, which kicks off at noon from Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
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