Teddy Bridgewater heading to NFL

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:

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.