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Husky Nation rejoice: Locker returning

Even the fact that he was being touted as a potential Top Ten pick -- hell, No. 1 overall pick according to ESPN’s Todd McShay -- in the upcoming April draft wasn’t enough to keep Jake Locker from returning for one more season at Washington, the quarterback announced this afternoon.

Locker released a statement this afternoon stating his intentions, coming to his decision after receiving input from multiple parties over the past few months.

“After a great deal of careful thought and deliberation, I have decided to return to Washington and play my senior year,” Locker said in a statement released by the school. “I am very excited about this team’s opportunities and potential for the upcoming season and I am looking forward to being a part of it.”

While the move in and of itself isn’t surprising -- both head coach Steve Sarkisian and athletic director Scott Woodward were confident he would return -- the fact that it came so soon ahead of the deadline for underclassmen to declare was somewhat unexpected. Players eligible for the draft have until Jan. 15 to make themselves officially available.

Given how Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford‘s season ended after coming back for another year -- and after being projected as possibly the first pick in the draft -- it would seem like the more judicious approach would be to eschew another collegiate season, thus avoiding both the potential of a serious injury hurting his stock and a rookie salary cap being implemented by the time the 2010 draft rolls around, and grabbing the money while he could.

Provided he avoids injury, though, another season in Sarkisian’s pro-style offense will do nothing to hurt Locker’s ’11 draft prospects. In fact, it could only help solidify his spot atop that draft class.

Again, provided he doesn’t pull a Bradford.