Mauck, who was 18-2 in two season as LSU's starting quarterback, lef the Tigers to the 2001 and 2003 SEC championships as well as the 2003 BCS National Title. With all of that, Mauck said there was really little else to accomplish at the collegiate ranks.
"Four years ago, I came for LSU for two reasons," Mauck said. "One was to get an education at a quality university and the second was to be able to play SEC football. It was a dream of mine to play college football and be part of a team and the atmosphere. In the three and a half years that I have been here, I have been extremely fortunate, to be able to graduate and to be part of a program that I am extremely proud of. It has far exceeded my expectations. To win two SEC Championships and one national championship, is just a dream come true."
Mauck said his decision was one that came after careful consideration.
"After speaking with Coach (Nick) Saban, my fiancée, my family and consulting with the NFL, I have decided to the best interest for me to forego my senior year and try to enter the NFL Draft." Mauck said.
While the second-team, all-SEC quarterback seemed very confident in his decision, Mauck said it was not an easy one.
"It has been an extremely, extremely difficult decision, just because of the wonderful place that LSU is and the amount of people and friends that I have been able to have here," Mauck said. "I can't thank Coach Saban and Coach (Jimbo) Fisher enough for not only helping me to become a better player but a better person."
Mauck's .900 winning percentage is the best for a quarterback in school history. He also finished is career ranked third in school history in TD passes (37) and completion percentage (58.6), sixth in completions (310), seventh in attempts (529) and eighth in passing yards (3,831).
LSU head coach Nick Saban wished Mauck well, but was all smiles when Spears said he would be back.
"We are so pleased and happy that Marcus has decided to come back," Saban said. "I think that there is so much that can be accomplished in your senior year of college. We're pleased and happy that Marcus is going to come back and be a leader on our team, have the opportunity to get his education, get very close to graduating, but also leave a legacy in terms of LSU football and what he can accomplish as a player next year. Obviously he's been a part of two SEC championships and a national championship, and I know that he's looking forward to the challenges, as I am, of what we can accomplish with next year's team as well."
Spears scored the game-clinching touchdown with a 20-yard interception return in the Nokia Sugar Bowl. He earned a spot on Sports Illustrated's All-Bowl team after leading the Tigers with two tackles, including a sack for a 3-yard loss and the interception return for a TD. Spears played a key role in holding Oklahoma to just 154 yards of offense in the game, including 52 rushing yards. As a unit, LSU ranked first in the nation in scoring defense (11.0 points per game) and total defense (252.0 yards per game).
"It's been a long process," Spears said. "We had a great season this year, and there's pretty much not much a college athlete could ask for other than winning the national championship and being a key part on the team. I just feel like there are still great things going on around here. I made a four-year commitment, and I'm going to stick to that. I'll be back next season to play for LSU."