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Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson to return for senior season

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The rising senior will be back for a fifth year in Evanston.

Northwestern v Illinois Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson will be back for his senior season, the program announced in a press release Tuesday afternoon.

The release:

“I want to play another season alongside the guys I’ve battled with for these last three years, and win a Big Ten Championship,” said Thorson. “That’s what I came here to do.”

Approaching the end of his junior season, Thorson is the winningest quarterback in Wildcats history with 26 victories as a starter. In Northwestern’s 2017 regular-season finale at Illinois, the ‘Cats third straight Land of Lincoln win and seventh consecutive victory of the campaign, he tied the school record with his 44th career touchdown pass. He currently ranks second in program history in passing yards, completions and total offense, and his 18 career rushing touchdowns are third-most ever by a Wildcats quarterback. Thorson, majoring in Communication Studies with a minor in Business Institutions, is on track to earn his undergraduate degree from Northwestern in June.

There had been some speculation that Thorson would test the NFL Draft waters. He has NFL size at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, but his TD/INT ratio fell from 22/9 in 2016 to 15/12 this season heading into the Music City Bowl. Losing the Big Ten’s best receiver certainly had something to do with that, and Thorson actually improved his completion percentage and adjusted QBR while seeing only a tiny drop in yards per attempt.

He’ll lose a couple weapons this offseason, including the best running back in program history, but with Jeremy Larkin and John Moten IV at RB, Flynn Nagel, Bennett Skowronek, and Riley Lees at WR and Cam Green at superback, Thorson will have plenty of talent around him.

No. 18 is going to set plenty of program records next year, but what would truly cement his legacy as an all-time great would be a Big Ten West championship.