MU quarterback Blaine Gabbert is giving up his final year of eligibility in Columbia and entering April's NFL draft.
Sorry, I would have gussied that up a bit, but if I read one more story lede parodying LeBron James' "I'm taking my talents to X place," I would stop enjoying sports writing altogether. Seriously, I read two of them yesterday alone.
But back to the point. Gabbert, who was the Tigers' starter for the last two seasons, is largely seen to be near the top of the QBs in the 2011 draft class, and the Ballwin, Mo., native is likely to be one of the first signal callers snapped up.
As the Mizzou starter, Gabbert put up a very respectable 18 wins,
including 10 this year, just the program's fourth 10-win season, which ended
in an infuriating
Insight Bowl loss to a depleted and possibly stoned Iowa team.
"This is definitely a bittersweet day for me, I was really looking
forward to having a chance to do some special things next season with my
teammates, but in the end, this is the right decision to make for
myself and my family," Gabbert said in a statement put out by the
"We're very proud of Blaine, and how hard he's worked to put himself in
position for this opportunity," added coach Gary Pinkel, who has proved
himself adept at snagging mobile
quarterbacks with great arms.
The 6-foot-5-inch quarterback put up very impressive numbers in his 31 games, especially for
having the unenviable task of following Chase Daniel taking snaps in
Columbia. His 40 career touchdown passes are good for third best in MU
history, and his passer rating of 132.59 is second best. ESPN reports
that Gabbert will probably be high up on many teams' drafts boards,
with his position generally considered to be just behind Stanford's
Andrew Luck among quarterbacks. ESPN Scouts Inc. ranks Gabbert No. 20
among all prospects.
ESPN's David Ubben gushes about Gabbert in a post praising his decision,
writing, "In Missouri's spread offense, he wouldn't have been much
as an NFL prospect this time next year, and his size (6-feet-5, 240
pounds) and arm strength (ridiculous) are exactly what NFL teams want in
a prospective future starter." He adds, "Don't be surprised if Gabbert
is better in the NFL than in college."
Now Pinkel will have to choose Gabbert's successor from a crop of a few unproven players, including Gabbert's little brother, Tyler.