Updated: January 8, 2014 11:54PM
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel declared for the NFL draft Wednesday after two spectacular seasons in which he became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy and helped the Aggies make a splash in their first two years in the Southeastern Conference.
“After long discussions with my family, friends, teammates, and coaches, I have decided to make myself available for the 2014 NFL draft,” Manziel said in a letter posted online by the university. “The decision was not an easy one, but we all felt this was the right time to make the next step toward a professional career.”
Some NFL draft analysts have Manziel ranked as high as the third overall pick in mock drafts.
ND’s Atkinson opts for draft
Notre Dame running back George Atkinson III reportedly will forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL draft. He was second on the team with 555 rushing yards. Atkinson was suspended for the Pinstripe Bowl because of a violation of team rules.
In other Irish news, backup quarterback Andrew Hendrix reportedly will spend his final year of eligibility at Miami (Ohio).
Hendrix will be reunited with former Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin, who became the RedHawks’ coach in December. Hendrix will have the chance to play immediately because of the graduate transfer rule.
Petrino back in Louisville
A member of the Louisville board of trustees says Western Kentucky’s Bobby Petrino, 52, accepted an offer to be the Cardinals’ next coach.
Jonathan Blue told the Associated Press that it’s a “done deal.” Blue says the University of Louisville Athletic Association will meet Thursday morning and, barring any unforeseen issues, is expected to approve athletic director Tom Jurich’s recommendation to have Petrino replace Charlie Strong, who took the Texas job.
Petrino returns to the school he led to a 41-9 record from 2003 to ’06 as a first-time coach.
In other news of note ...
The father of Ohio State defensive end Noah Spence said that his son unknowingly ingested the drug ecstasy and that the Big Ten unjustly suspended him. Spence was suspended for the Orange Bowl and must sit out the first two games next season. His father, Greg, said that someone apparently slipped the drug into a drink without Noah knowing it the week before the Big Ten title game Dec. 7.
◆ Michigan fired offensive coordinator Al Borges after a feast-or-famine season in which the Wolverines struggled to run the ball and protect the quarterback. Michigan went 7-6 and finished 86th in the nation in total offense.
◆ Florida State’s Jameis Winston was named the winner of the Manning Award, given annually to the nation’s top quarterback.
Sun-Times staff, wires