Teddy Bridgewater heading to NFL

ByBRETT MCMURPHY via <a href="http://espn.go.com/video/sportscenter" title="SportCenter" class="espn_sc_byline">SPORTSCENTER </a>
January 01, 2014, 5:52 PM

&#151; -- Louisville Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft, the school announced Wednesday.

"This was an extremely difficult decision for me," Bridgewater said in a statement released by the school on Wednesday. "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 I built."

Bridgewater, 21, is the top-rated quarterback prospect by ESPN's Todd McShay and the No. 8 player overall. He graduated last month with a degree in sports administration, the first member of his family to graduate from college.

Bridgewater took to Twitter on Wednesday afternoon to offer his thanks:

Time flies when you're having fun. Thankful for the many relationships formed and the many lessons learned over these past 3 years. #L1C4

— Teddy Bridgewater (@teddyb_h2o) January 1, 2014

Two weeks ago, Bridgewater told ESPN that if he decided to turn pro early, it'd be so he could "finally say I reached my ultimate goal, and it would change my mom's life [financially]."

"I can make an impact on my environment, where I grew up in Miami, showing there's no restrictions what you can reach," Bridgewater said on Dec. 16. "That someone from the same neighborhood can make it out."

Bridgewater threw for a career-high 447 yards and three touchdowns and earned MVP honors as Louisville beat Miami 36-9 in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

He had his second consecutive strong season for the Cardinals (12-1), completing 71 percent of his passes for 3,970 yards with 31 touchdowns and only four interceptions.

In three seasons as a starter, Bridgewater won 27 games and was third in school history with 9,817 passing yards and 72 TD throws.

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