TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Already committed to play basketball at Gonzaga, Brock Osweiler made the difficult decision to instead play football at Arizona State.
Three years later, Osweiler found himself with another choice to make — and again decided to leave.
Osweiler declared for the NFL on Friday and will forgo his senior season at Arizona State, leaving after one of the best seasons by a quarterback in the program's history.
"While I bleed and sweat Maroon and Gold I have now made the second-most difficult decision in my life," Osweiler said in a statement. "I have decided to declare myself eligible for the NFL draft. It was an exceptionally difficult decision to make, but having spoken to my family and close friends it became clear to me that this is the next path I must take to advance my personal and professional career."
In his first full season as a starter, Osweiler became the first Arizona State quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards, finishing with 4,036 while setting school records for completions (326), attempts (516) and completion percentage (63.2). He also threw for 26 touchdowns, fourth-most in school history, and had seven 300-yard passing games, including a career-high 487 against rival Arizona.
Osweiler threw for 5,082 yards and 33 touchdowns in his three seasons in the desert and has been projected as a mid-round NFL draft pick.
He said he consulted with incoming Sun Devils coach Todd Graham before making the decision.
"I wish Brock Osweiler nothing but the best in his pursuit of a future in the National Football League," said Graham, hired last month to replace fired coach Dennis Erickson. "That is the goal of every college football player who buckles up a chin strap. I met with Brock on several occasions and we discussed his future at length. Brock is doing what he believes is best for him and his family and we respect that. "
A star basketball player in Kalispell, Mont., the 6-foot-8 Osweiler was all set to play for Gonzaga when he had a change of heart.
He graduated from high school a semester early so he could arrive in Tempe in early 2009 and played six games his first season, becoming the first true freshman to start a game at quarterback since Jake Plummer in 1993.
Osweiler lost a tight preseason battle with Steven Threet for the starter's spot in 2010 and played sparingly until late in the season. He led the Sun Devils from a 17-point deficit to beat UCLA in the penultimate game of the season after Threet was injured, then helped Arizona State to a dramatic overtime win over rival Arizona the next week in his first start of the season.
Osweiler's draft stock rose with the numbers he put up this past season and his size will likely make him an attractive pick for a team looking for a quarterback to groom for the future.
"ASU has been my home for the last three years," said Osweiler, who has a tattoo of the Sun Devils' pitchfork logo on his ribs. "I will never forget how many people have gone out of their way to make ASU home for me."