Florida State quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston will forgo his junior and senior seasons and enter the NFL draft.
In a statement released Wednesday by his representative agency, Winston said he "reached this very difficult decision after careful consideration and long thought."
ESPN first reported Winston's decision. The redshirt sophomore made his decision to turn pro Tuesday night, his father told ESPN.
Winston, 21, led the Seminoles to the 2013 national title and played a central role in helping Florida State amass a 29-game winning streak that ended New Year's Day with the team's College Football Playoff semifinal loss to Oregon in the Rose Bowl.
"I will always take pride in leading our team back to national prominence and am confident that my returning teammates will continue the success for many years to come," Winston said.
The 2013 Heisman Trophy winner posted a 26-1 record with the Seminoles and passed for 7,964 yards and 65 touchdowns in two seasons.
Winston's decision could make him the top overall pick in this year's draft, but a reputation for off-field incidents has not helped his draft stock.
Last year, Winston was accused of rape by a former Florida State student. Charges were never filed and Florida State determined in December that Winston did not violate the university's code of conduct in regard to the alleged incident. His accuser filed a federal civil lawsuit Wednesday against Florida State's trustees, arguing the university violated her Title IX rights by refusing to properly investigate the incident.
Florida State suspended Winston for one game this season for shouting a vulgarity in a public area on campus. Last spring, he was briefly suspended by the Florida State baseball team for stealing crab legs from a supermarket. Winston was a pitcher for the team.
Winston is the third Florida State player this week to declare for the NFL draft. Cornerback P.J. Williams and defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. announced Tuesday they are foregoing their final year of eligibility.
Orlando Sentinel staff writer Brendan Sonnone contributed to this report.