TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, who has led the Crimson Tide to its second straight national title game, said he will return for his senior season instead of entering the NFL draft.
McCarron made the announcement in a statement released by the school on Wednesday.
``I had many goals for myself when I came to the University of Alabama,'' the junior said. ``I have been lucky enough to achieve some of those goals, but some are still ahead of me. There were many factors in my decision to return to Alabama for my senior year but, after talking with my family and coaches, I knew it was the right choice for me.
``I love the University of Alabama, my coaches, my teammates and our fans. I am excited to have the opportunity to play with my brother (sophomore tight end Corey McCarron), continue to grow as a leader, continue to help our team win football games and develop even further as a quarterback. The NFL has long been a dream, but I think another year at Alabama can only help my chances of being successful at the next level.''
McCarron leads the nation in passing efficiency headed into the BCS championship game against Notre Dame on Jan. 7 in Miami, and he was MVP of the BCS championship game against LSU last season. He is 24-2 as a starter.
McCarron has thrown for 2,669 yards and a school-record 26 touchdown passes against just three interceptions this season. His 45 career TD passes is second in Alabama history.
``We are pleased that AJ has decided to return for his senior year next season,'' Alabama coach Nick Saban said. ``He's done a great job for us and has really grown, not only as a quarterback and a player, but as a leader of our team. Like I've said before, we want to help our players make sound decisions when it comes to what is best for their future. Our goal at Alabama is to help our guys develop a career off the field by graduating, become the best football players they can be during their time here, and try to win a championship while preparing them for the possibility of playing in the NFL.
``AJ has great support from his family and the people around him. He showed very good maturity in looking at all of the factors and making an informed decision on his future.''
Alabama starts practicing for the championship game on Tuesday, Dec. 18.