NEW YORK — Robert Griffin III's four years at Baylor have included a serious knee injury, 46 school records, the best season the Bears have had in decades, and now a Heisman Trophy.
He has one more season of eligibility left and could return to school. Or not.
RG3 to the NFL?
"Whether I won the award or not, it wasn't going to sway me on coming back or not," Griffin said Saturday night.
Griffin won the 77th Heisman Trophy, beating out Andrew Luck, who has already been penciled in as the No. 1 pick in April's NFL draft.
Luck is considered one of the most NFL-ready prospects to ever come of out college, having played brilliantly in Stanford's pro-style offense the last three seasons.
Griffin is more of a Cam Newton-type prospect. Not as big as last year's winner — he's 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds — but faster.
Griffin directs a spread offense at Baylor, though the Bears don't run Griffin the way Auburn often pounded teams with the 250-pound Newton. Baylor sprinkles in designed runs for Griffin, who has sprinter's speed and was an NCAA all-American hurdler.
Much like his Heisman stock, Griffin's pro prospects started the season modest and have soared.
His completion rate jumped to a career-high 72 percent this season, but those stats often don't mean much in the NFL, where an open receiver looks very different from the way he does in college. Still, it's a good sign.
There's a long way to go in the draft process — all-star games, the combine and individual workouts can dramatically move a player up and down the board — but it's hard to imagine that Griffin won't be at least in the mix to be drafted in the first round.
Some of those early mock drafts have projected Griffin as a possible top-10 pick.
Griffin is an underclassmen only in a football sense. He's already completed a political science degree and was working on a master's in communications this season, which would have been his senior year if he had not torn a ligament in his right knee in the third game of his sophomore season.
He took a medical redshirt that gave him an additional season of eligibility, so he could return to Waco, Texas, in 2012 and take a shot at leading Baylor to even bigger goals.
A Big 12 championship. A BCS bid. Maybe even national title contention.
Heady stuff for a school that before this season hadn't won nine games since 1986.
But is it realistic?
Griffin is great and coach Art Briles has proved that he can design a dynamic offense, but the Bears' two other talented playmakers — receiver Kendall Wright and running back Terrance Ganaway — are both seniors.
And even in this dream season Baylor didn't play much defense. More often than not, the Bears needed every point Griffin and that potent offense could produce to win.
It's not quite a Matt Barkley situation that Griffin is facing. The Southern California quarterback is a true junior coming off a spectacular third college season. He finished sixth in the Heisman voting. If he returns to school in 2012, USC is a serious national championship contender.
Griffin's return to Baylor guarantees no such thing. Fact is there is a great chance that this is as good as it will get for Griffin and Baylor.
"We've done a great job resurrecting the program," Griffin said. "It had a foundation with Grant Teaff and Mike Singletary and all those guys, but it had eroded away over the years. For us to be able to rebuild that foundation add our own successes to it and start building the program that we want it to be is huge. We just needed the right kind of leadership and coach Briles provided that."
The deadline to for underclassmen for declare for the NFL draft is Jan. 15.
Griffin said he'll wait until after the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29 against Washington in San Antonio to make up his mind.Comment on this story
He's already won a Heisman that seemed destined to go to Luck. Maybe by draft day, he'll again eclipse Luck.
The day before winning the Heisman Trophy, he wasn't about to concede anything to Luck.
"I know a lot of people have him locked in as the No. 1 guy," Griffin said. "Have I heard different, yes? Have I heard he's the No. 1 guy, yes? I'm not really worried about that and it won't really affect my decision to come our or not.
"You know Cam Newton wasn't shown as the front-runner when he came out to be the No. 1 pick and he did it. So you never know with these things."