ORLANDO, Fla. (WDRB) -- Teddy Bridgewater said the words to ESPN, on the field after carving up his childhood team, the University of Miami, in the Russell Athletic Bowl Saturday.
"What a way to go out, against my hometown school."
After the game, of course, Bridgewater observed the first rule of college players considering an early jump to the National Football League: Don't talk about it. He doesn't have to. Everyone else will talk about it for him.
The headlines screamed it after Bridgewater's 447-yard passing performance against Miami. NFLMocks.com: "Bridgewater Solidifies 2014 Draft Stock." CBSSports.com: "Bridgewater shows No. 1 form in rout of Miami." NFL.com: "All Signs point to Bridgewater entering NFL Draft."
He was asked in his postgame news conference if he'd ever been to Houston. Reporters laughed. Bridgewater sidestepped the question as adeptly as he evaded Miami pass rushers.
"As of now, it's not about me," Bridgewater said. "It's about this team. We want to celebrate tonight's victory. Each of us will have a decision to make, whether it's the seniors, underclassmen, we all have decisions to make but tonight we want to focus on this game and get this game out of the way and now we just want to celebrate and enjoy this moment."
Bridgewater said he has not set a timetable for his decision. He'll get input from the league, from coach Charlie Strong and from his family. Then he'll make the call.
"Everybody has an opinion," Strong said. "At the end of the day, it's going to be his decision and we're going to back it hundred percent."
It seemed, however, at times, as if Bridgewater were saying some public goodbyes. And he saved the most heartfelt for U of L offensive coordinator Shawn Watson.
"Well, now I'll try not to be emotional right now, but Coach Watson, he's a very special person to me," Bridgewater said. "You know, you have those top five people in your life, and he's one of them in my life and that right there says it all because he doesn't care about only football. He cares about my development as a young man and I'm just so thankful that he's been a part of my own career and my life. Our relationship is just -- it's a bond that no one can break. I'm very grateful to have him a part of my life."
Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith was in attendance at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium Saturday night. He saw Bridgewater pick Miami apart, a mobile quarterback who is able to move quickly and think quickly, deliver accurate balls and, occasionally, do the spectacular.
But he won't get caught up in that moment. No one from the NFL will. Quarterbacks are largely judged on the measurables, arm strength, speed, intelligence. Bridgewater would seem well positioned to pass all those tests.
But in two bowl games against nationally ranked teams from Florida, Bridgewater has come up big, throwing for 713 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions.
Bridgewater isn't the only Cardinal with a decision to make. Safety Calvin Pryor said he'd sit down with his family and get input from the league, but that not having finished his degree will weigh heavily in his decision.
Wide receiver DeVante Parker said he needs to be convinced he's a first-round pick before he makes a decision, but that he'll sit down and discuss it.
For Bridgewater, if it was the end, it was a fitting end. He passed for 447 yards and three touchdowns. He broke Brian Brohm's single-season record for TD passes. And he beat the program he grew up watching, the school he originally committed to out of high school.
He has earned his college degree, and walked through graduation.
The time, in all likelihood, has come for Bridgewater to take the next step in his football, and financial, future.
If he is headed out, Bridgewater will leave on a high note.
Saturday, August 30 2014 3:51 PM EDT2014-08-30 19:51:46 GMT
The University of Kentucky football team got some big plays from young players and a steady start from quarterback Patrick Towles to pound Tennessee-Martin 59-14 in their first season opener at home since 2007.More >>
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Teddy Bridgewater says thank you to U of L students in an ad in its student paper. Eric Crawford photo.
Teddy Bridgewater had one more classy move for University of Louisville students and fans -- he said Thank You with an ad in the semester's first edition of The Louisville Cardinal student newspaper.More >>
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