Alabama redshirt junior quarterback AJ McCarron, who leads the nation in passing efficiency, announced Wednesday that he will return for his senior season.
McCarron led the Crimson Tide to a BCS national championship last season and was MVP of this past January's 21-0 title-game victory over LSU. He has Alabama back in this year's BCS championship, with the No. 2 Tide set to face No. 1 Notre Dame in Miami on Jan. 7.
"I had many goals for myself when I came to the University of Alabama," McCarron said. "I have been lucky enough to achieve some of those goals, but some are still ahead of me. There were many factors in my decision to return to Alabama for my senior year, but after talking with my family and coaches, I knew it was the right choice for me.
"The NFL has long been a dream, but I think another year at Alabama can only help my chances of being successful at the next level."
One NFL scouting director contacted by the Time Free Press late in the season said McCarron had the arm strength and the intangibles to be a second- or third-round selection in the 2013 NFL draft.
The Mobile resident has thrown for 2,669 yards this season and set the school's single-season record for touchdowns with 26. He has been intercepted only three times.
"We are pleased that AJ has decided to return for his senior year next season," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "He's done a great job for us and has really grown, not only as a quarterback and a player, but as a leader of our team. Like I've said before, we want to help our players make sound decisions when it comes to what is best for their future.
"Our goal at Alabama is to help our guys develop a career off the field by graduating, become the best football players they can be during their time here, and try to win a championship while preparing them for the possibility of playing in the NFL."
Alabama will begin on-campus practices for Notre Dame on Tuesday.