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Star WSU QB Luke Falk returning to Washington State, bypasses chance to head early to NFL

LUKE FALK, one of the great -- and truly endearing -- quarterbacks in Washington State history, is returning to WSU to complete his final year of college eligibility rather than opt out early for the 2017 NFL draft. The fourth-year junior made it official today after months of speculation, both within Cougar Nation and around the country, about his future.

"After much consideration I wanted to let Cougar football fans know that I will be returning for my senior season in 2017. The chance to play one final season with my teammates and friends, continue our development under a great coaching staff, and the opportunity to achieve more for Washington State football all went into my decision. We have much more to accomplish and I am excited to spend another season in Pullman. Thanks for all your support. Go Cougs!" - Luke Falk

Through the fall, NFL forecasters generally envisioned Falk being taken somewhere between the third and fifth rounds if he were to go in the 2017 draft. Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina), Deshaun Watson (Clemson) and DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame) are widely viewed as the top three QBs in the '17 draft. Falk would likely join Brad Kaaya (Miami) and Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) in the next grouping.

Most of the signs, though, pointed to Falk returning to Wazzu next season. Indeed, Mike Leach said in the days before the Holiday Bowl that the game against Minnesota wouldn’t be Falk’s last at WSU. But as the days stretched out after the bowl game with no word from the Falk Camp on whether he would return, Cougar fans began to fear the worst.

And the one thing that did point in favor of early entry was a thin 2017 QB draft class, compared to the 2018 draft in which the position figures to be loaded.

In a little more than two years as WSU's starting quarterback, Falk has set a slew of school passing records, including single-season TD passes (38) and career 300-plus-yard games (23). He has 89 career TD passes, one shy of the all-time WSU mark held by Connor Halliday, and is third in career passing yards (10,888) behind Halliday and Alex Brink.

Falk's 18 career victories as a starter is the second-most for a QB in Cougar history. Jason Gesser is king of the hill with 24.

The 6-4, 216-pound Falk famously came to WSU in 2013 as an invited walk on, with then-quality control assistant Eric Mele running the point on recruitment. Falk soon eclipsed touted 4-star prospect Tyler Bruggman as the QB to watch in that freshman class and assumed the starting role late the following season when Halliday went down with a broken leg. Falk foreshadowed the future in his first start, throwing for 471 yards and 5 TDs in a 39-32 win at Oregon State. The performance earned him Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week and national Manning Quarterback of the Week plaudits.

In 2015, his first full season as a starter, Falk garnered first-team All-Pac-12 honors (the ninth QB in WSU history to be so honored) after leading the Cougars to eight regular-season wins -- including nail biting comebacks against Oregon, Arizona State, UCLA and Rutgers. Falk and Cougar legends Jack Thompson and Ed Goddard are the only WSU QBs to earn first-team all-conference honors as sophomores.

Falk was named second-team all-Pac-12 this past season after leading the Cougars to an unprecedented eight-straight wins, including seven straight in Pac-12 play.

He is a two-time finalist for both the Manning Award, given to the nation's top quarterback, and the Burlsworth Trophy, given to the nation's best player who began his career as a walk on.

RELATED STORY: Falk has a lot of work to do this offseason

Luke Falk's first start in crimson was Nov. 8, 2014 in Corvallis. Eduardo Middleton stands guard as Falk fires ...

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