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Luke Falk will return to WSU for his senior season

WSU quarterback Luke Falk (4) during the first half of the 2016 National Funding Holiday Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
WSU quarterback Luke Falk (4) during the first half of the 2016 National Funding Holiday Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – Washington State’s chances of winning eight or more football games for the third consecutive season next year improved immeasurably on Wednesday morning, as quarterback Luke Falk announced he would return for his senior season.

The record-setting quarterback told reporters on Wednesday that he had sought advice from the NFL’s Draft Advisory Committee, but that he would keep the results private.

Falk, a two-time All-Pac-12 quarterback, will return as the NCAA’s active career leader in passing yards (10,893) and touchdown passes (89). He came to WSU as a walk-on in the 2013 recruiting class, and was starting games by the end of his redshirt freshman season.

Falk said his teammates have known for some time that he intended to return for his senior season.

“I really wanted to have another year with everyone,” Falk said. “I still feel like we have a lot to accomplish. We ended the season – not the way we wanted to, and I’m hungry for more. I’ve got one more year and I want to go out the right way with this senior class that I came in with and finish what we started.”

Falk had the opportunity to either enter the upcoming NFL draft or possibly try to graduate and transfer to another school. Speculation about his postseason intentions increased when he refused to answer questions about whether or not he would return to WSU following the Cougars’ 17-12 loss to Minnesota in the Holiday Bowl.

Prior to the bowl game Mike Leach had assured reporters that Falk would return for the 2017 season and he proved to be correct. Falk was viewed by most NFL draft prognosticators as a mid-round or late-round selection had he chosen to leave school.

Had Falk left, the Cougars would have very little experience at the quarterback position heading into the 2017 season. Freshman Tyler Hilinksi was the only other WSU quarterback to take any snaps this year, and he attempted just 30 passes over four appearances.

Transfers have hit the Cougars hard at the position, and Anthony Gordon is the only other quarterback on scholarship. WSU is expected to sign four-star prep quarterback Connor Neville in February.

Falk is the lynchpin for what should again be a high-powered WSU offense in 2017. Though WSU loses Gabe Marks and River Cracraft, the two most prolific receivers in school history, the Cougars retain their top three running backs and three offensive linemen, including unanimous All-American Cody O’Connell at left guard.

“In the last two years, we have done a good job of building the program,” Falk said. “We were close this year and we have a lot of seniors who want to continue to play football. I think we can take that step next year.

The 6-foot-4, 216-pound quarterback holds WSU single-season records for completion percentage (70 percent), touchdowns (38 in 2015 and 2016) and 300-yard passing games (10). By coming back he puts himself in position to own career records for completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns.

With 18 career wins, Falk needs just six more to tie Jason Gesser’s record for most victories by a WSU quarterback.

Falk made his announcement by issuing the following statement through WSU’s athletic communications department:

“After much consideration I wanted to let Cougar football fans know that I will be returning for my senior season in 2017. The chance to play one final season with my teammates and friends, continue our development under a great coaching staff, and the opportunity to achieve more for Washington State football all went into my decision. We have much more to accomplish and I am excited to spend another season in Pullman. Thanks for all your support. Go Cougs!”

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