USC's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Matt Leinart said Friday he will return to the Trojans for his senior year instead of joining the NFL.


Speculation as to whether the 21-year-old passer, entering his fifth year at USC, would turn pro had swirled since he led the Trojans to their second consecutive national championship in the team's 55-19 win over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 4.


Leinart passed for 3,322 yards and threw for 33 touchdowns last season. He was widely expected to be a top pick if he entered the NFL draft. The deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft is Jan. 15.


Industry experts said he could have received a guaranteed eight-figure signing bonus from an NFL team as part of a contract that could have topped $40 million over five years if he were among the first players selected by NFL teams in April.

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