Jan. 3, 2005
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - California quarterback Aaron Rodgers will skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
"I just feel like it's too big of an opportunity to pass up," Rodgers said Monday. "I'm looking forward to competing with the other quarterbacks for a chance to make an NFL team, and I'm fulfilling a childhood dream."
Under the tutelage of coach Jeff Tedford, Rodgers became a top pro prospect in just two years with the Golden Bears, whose season ended last week with a 45-31 loss to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl. Rodgers passed for 2,566 yards and 24 touchdowns this season, his first as Cal's full-time starter.
Rodgers signed with Cal after one year at a junior college in his native Chico, Calif., starting the final 10 games last season. He passed for 2,903 yards and 19 touchdowns while completing more than 60 percent of his passes, throwing just five interceptions and leading Cal to a victory in the Insight Bowl.
Rodgers' numbers declined in the second half of this season when his top four receivers all were sidelined or slowed by various injuries, but he still led Cal (10-2) to its best season in a half-century. The Bears achieved their highest ranking since 1952 and went unbeaten at home for the first time since 1950.
Rodgers also helped his pro stock by playing his best game against top-ranked Southern California. Though the Bears lost 23-17, Rodgers completed 23 straight passes and got his team within a few yards of the possible winning touchdown in the final seconds.
With a strong arm and good mechanics, Rodgers' game seems well suited for the NFL. He's widely expected to be one of the first quarterbacks chosen, and could be picked high in the first round.