Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will skip his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft. The university's athletic department confirmed the decision with a press release Wednesday, following weeks and months of speculation about the playing future of the Cardinals quarterback. The decision may have been a difficult one for Bridgewater to finally make official, but it was one that was long expected to become reality at the end of this college football season.
“This was an extremely difficult decision for me," Bridgewater said in a statement released by the university. "I can’t express how much my time at Louisville has meant to me. These past three years have allowed me to mature as a person and leave the university as [a] better person and with my degree in hand, which was one of my goals. I will cherish every moment on the field and off the field, and every bond that I built."
Bridgewater is leaving Louisville's program with one of his best games now behind him. In the Russell Athletic Bowl against Miami, the school Bridgewater once hoped to play for before staff changes with the Hurricanes, Bridgewater completed 35 of 45 pass attempts for 447 yards and three touchdowns for the cherry on top of a fine season, his draft stock about as high as it could possibly be. Louisville won the game, by the way, 36-9.
Bridgewater admits to not knowing a lot about Louisville when he initially decided to join the program, but he has certainly helped many learn about the program over the last three years.
“I didn’t know much about Louisville when I made the decision to attend," Bridgewater said. "But in the end, it was one of the best decisions I could have ever made.”
When Louisville added Bridgewater to their roster in 2011 the Cardinals were coming off a surprising debut season for Charlie Strong as the new head coach. Strong inherited a team in 2010 picked to finish list in the Big East but ended the year with a 7-6 record. Once Bridgewater got to work with the team he quickly took over as starting quarterback and showed glimpses of good things to come with over 2,000 passing yards and 14 touchdowns as a freshman. As we would witness over the next two seasons, Bridgewater played a huge role in the Cardinals laying claim to one Big East title, a Sugar Bowl victory over Florida and a cumulative record of 23-3 between the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Despite Louisville joining the ACC in 2014, there is little more for Bridgewater to prove. His stock cannot go any higher than it is right now. Though he would probably benefit from a chance to compete against stiffer defensive competition in the ACC, as a projected overall number one NFL Draft pick there would be little reason to do so just on the off chance his numbers take a dip in a year in ACC play.
For now there is nothing more to do than to bid farewell to Bridgewater as he turns pro.