Ducks' Darron Thomas signs with agent

EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas is skipping his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

Thomas made the announcement, which caught many by surprise, on Saturday night. He follows Oregon running back LaMichael James, who announced last week that he would skip his final year of eligibility.

"I am ready to go," Thomas told ESPN's Joe Schad. "I left on a good note with the Rose Bowl. And I am ready to further my life."

Thomas has signed with agent Drew Rosenhaus and will train in Los Angeles.

"I feel like I'm leaving my brothers but I leave them in good hands," Thomas told Schad. "I loved all my times there."

Thomas told Schad he has been told he could be drafted "all over the board" and "hopefully I do get drafted and I can go in there and keep working hard."

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior passed for 2,761 yards and a school-record 33 touchdowns this past season, despite missing a game because of an injury. He also ran for three scores. He threw only seven interceptions.

The Ducks finished 12-2 with losses to LSU and USC before beating Wisconsin 45-38 in the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO. The previous season, the Ducks lost only to Auburn in the BCS championship game.

Thomas told Schad he can "offer leadership, [a] winning attitude, hard work and I can make big plays. I saw what Cam Newton did this year. He took his raw talent and made a spark. I can do those things, too."

Thomas said that although coach Chip Kelly says every position is open for competition, and backup Bryan Bennett would have competed for the starting quarterback job, "I felt my position was on lockdown."

Thomas said that throughout last season, Kelly made it known to him privately that he was the starter when healthy.

"I know some fans are sad, but they are in good hands," Thomas told Schad. "I have my degree. I won a lot of games. I'm leaving on a good note. And I'm excited for what's next."

Thomas ended his career 23-3 as a starter.

He had a school-record 66 touchdown passes in 31 games with the Ducks. He ranks sixth on the school's career list with 6,629 yards of total offense and seventh with 5,910 yards passing.

"As in all cases, we educate our players with the information we feel will be beneficial to them throughout the process but ultimately, the decision is left up to the players," Kelly said in school statement Saturday. "I will always support Darron in his decision and want to thank him for everything he has done for this program. He obviously has played a major role in elevating Oregon football to new heights and I wish him well in the future."

Kelly wasn't available for further comment Saturday.

Bennett is expected to lead the Ducks when Oregon opens spring practice on April 3. True freshmen Marcus Mariota and Jake Rodrigues will also compete for the job.

When Thomas injured his left leg in Oregon's victory over Arizona State on Oct. 15, Bennett started the next week at Colorado and threw for 156 yards and two touchdowns.

James, who was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2010, declared on Jan. 6 that he would leave school early to enter the draft, but that decision had been widely anticipated.

A 5-foot-9, 195-pound All-American, James rushed for a school-record 1,805 yards this season despite missing two games with a dislocated right elbow. He led the nation with an average of 150.4 yards rushing per game.

James is the first Pac-12 player to have three straight 1,500-yard seasons.

On Friday, fellow running back Kenjon Barner said he would stay at Oregon for his senior year.

Barner ran for 939 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, and caught 17 passes for 184 yards and three scores.

On Twitter, Barner defended Thomas for his decision, posting: "Get my off boy DT ur not walking in his shoes so u don't know what his reasoning is for leaving God bless bro do ya thing."

Information from ESPN's Joe Schad and The Associated Press contributed to this report.