Locker to return for senior season

Washington Huskies quarterback Jake Locker announced Monday that he will return for his senior season instead of entering the NFL draft, despite most projections slotting him as an early first-round selection.

"After a great deal of careful thought and deliberation, I have decided to return to Washington and play my senior year," Locker said in a statement. "I am very excited about this team's opportunities and potential for the upcoming season and I am looking forward to being a part of it."

With Locker back, the Huskies should be a bowl threat in what figures to be a deep Pac-10 in 2010. They are expected to welcome back nine starters on offense and eight on defense as well as both specialists.

Entering the 2009 season, the big question with Locker was how he would adapt to new coach Steve Sarkisian's pro-style offensive scheme. Locker ran a spread-option offense his first two seasons as the Huskies' starter, though the second season ended after four games when he injured his thumb.

Those questions were answered early when the Huskies, 0-12 in 2008, started 2-1 and earned a national ranking, narrowly losing to LSU and beating then-No. 3 USC.

"I think Jake feels like he's got some unfinished work here at the University of Washington and I truly believe he wouldn't have done this if he didn't feel we were headed in the right direction," Sarkisian said during a conference call Monday afternoon.

Locker completed 58 percent of his passes for 2,800 yards -- the third-highest single-season passing total in UW history -- with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also rushed for 388 yards and seven touchdowns.

With Locker in charge, the Huskies completed one of the nation's best turnarounds, finishing 5-7, just a win short of bowl eligibility.

Locker, a native of Ferndale, Wash., ranks sixth on the Washington career list with 5,374 career yards. He also is just two yards shy of Marques Tuiasosopo's record as the program's all-time leading rusher at quarterback.

Locker also signed a contract last summer with the Los Angeles Angels -- he's no longer on scholarship and is paying his own way at Washington -- though he repeatedly has insisted that football is his first choice.

Ted Miller covers the Pac-10 for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.