Jared Goff officially declares for 2016 NFL Draft

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Phillip Downey/File

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Jared Goff is officially declaring for the NFL Draft.

On Thursday, the junior quarterback announced at a press conference that he will be foregoing his last year of NCAA eligibility to declare for the draft a year early.

“After much deliberation with my family and close friends, I’ve decided to forego my senior year at Cal and declare for the 2016 NFL Draft,” Goff said. “I want to thank my teammates. Over the past three years, we have been through so much together, I have formed life long friends with the guys on the team. … None of it would be possible without every single guy in the locker room.”

Draft experts predict Goff to go early in the first round of the draft, which will take place April 28-30 in Chicago. Mel Kiper of ESPN currently has Goff as his 10th best prospect, while Todd McShay, also of ESPN, recently selected him to go fifth, which currently would keep Goff in the Bay Area with the San Francisco 49ers.

Goff will leave Cal after leading the Bears to a 55-36 victory in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. The game’s MVP threw for 467 yards on 25-37 passes and six touchdowns, setting a Cal bowl game record and tying his career-high for touchdowns in a single game.

With his performance in the bowl game, Goff also set the Pac-12 single-season record for passing touchdowns (43) and yards (4,719). His 43 touchdowns also tied him for second in Football Bowl Subdivision history.

“We wish he was coming back, but we certainly understand his decision,” said Cal head coach Sonny Dykes. “Bittersweet day for me personally and Cal fans. He has meant so much to this university and this program.”

The quarterback finished the season with an average of 363 yards per game and a 161.3 passing efficiency on a 64.5 percent completion percentage.

Goff will leave Cal as the only true freshman to ever start his first game at the quarterback position, having started all 37 games during his three-year career. He also has set 26 Cal records including career passing yards (12,200), touchdown passes (96) and completions (977).

“As the season went on I felt ready. There wasn’t much more to do in college, in my career here,” Goff said. “I felt like I accomplished a lot and I felt ready.”

Alaina Getzenberg covers football. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @agetzenberg.