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Notre Dame Defensive End Stephon Tuitt Foregoing Senior Season to Enter the NFL Draft

The giant-sized defensive end leaves Notre Dame a year early as one of the school's top sack leaders.

Scott Cunningham

Months ago Stephon Tuitt more than hinted to the Notre Dame Observer that he would return for his senior season. On Sunday night he told the world this would not be the case.

The true junior took a week following Notre Dame's bowl game to make his decision and now he's off to the NFL where he recently received a 2nd round grade but could easily go in the 1st round.

The 6'6" defensive end leaves South Bend as one of the best defenders of the past decade. Seeing minutes immediately as a true freshman in 2011, Tuitt exploded onto the scene in 2012 during his first year of starting on the best Fighting Irish defense in 20 years or longer.

His junior season was hampered by off-season hernia surgery and some weight concerns but he seemed to really play better and turn it on as the season progressed.

Tuitt was once believed to have the talent to break Justin Tuck's school sack record but unfortunately he fell short of that goal. However, his 124 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 20.5 sacks, 27 quarterback hurries, and two defensive touchdowns put his own stamp in the annals of Irish football.

Best of luck in the NFL, Stephon.