- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett is ready to take his shot at pro football.
Mallett, who became just the fourth player in SEC history to pass for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in back-to-back seasons, announced Thursday that he's giving up his final season of eligibility to declare for the 2011 NFL draft.
"Ever since I was a kid, my dream has always been to play for the Razorbacks, and I am thankful I had the opportunity to do so," Mallett said. "A year ago, when I returned to school, I said I wanted to help lead this team to a place among the nation's elite and for the Razorback community to have a mindset to expect greatness.
"There is no doubt we got there together, and this program will continue to play games on the biggest stages, and when it does, we'll come out swinging."
Mallett led the Hogs to a 10-3 season this year and the program's first berth in a BCS bowl. Ohio State defeated Arkansas 31-26 on Tuesday in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Mallett's announcement that he's turning pro comes on the heels of Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck saying he would stay in school for his senior season.
According to ESPN's Mel Kiper, Mallett is the No. 3 quarterback on Kiper's Big Board of draft prospects behind Missouri's Blaine Gabbert and Auburn's Cam Newton. Mallett is rated as the No. 16 prospect overall by Kiper.
"Playing in the NFL is a goal of mine and I am grateful to the people that have prepared me to take the next step," Mallett said. "Coach [Bobby] Petrino is a winner, a man of character and the hardest worker I have ever seen. I'd also like to thank coach [Garrick] McGee for everything he has done for me, and in particular, helping develop my mental approach to the game."
Mallett finished with 3,869 passing yards and 32 touchdowns this season, both school records, and also threw 12 interceptions. His 3,869 passing yards are the third-highest single-season total in SEC history.