Will Notre Dame's Stephon Tuitt Stay or Declare for NFL Draft?

By Jeff Merritt
Matt Cashore USA TODAY-Sports

Heading into the Pinstripe Bowl preparations, the concern on everyone’s mind close to the Notre Dame Football program is whether Stephon Tuitt will stay for one more season at Notre Dame or declare himself eligible for the NFL Draft.

There are a number of opinions out there regarding Tuitt’s current draft status. On many boards, his stock has dropped due to the inconsistent season he had in 2013. His numbers were not nearly as good as in 2012, but this may have been due to the lingering effects of off-season hernia surgery. As the season progressed, though, Tuitt began to show that dominant presence on the field once again, especially in the USC game where many contend he single-handedly won the game for the Irish.

Other see his draft stock as relatively stable despite a fall off statistically.  He should be the second defensive end taken in the draft only behind Jadeveon Clowney who is certain to be a top five pick.  However, being the second defensive end taken in the draft does not assure Tuitt that he will be taken in the first round.  It all depends on the needs of those making draft picks.

Tuitt’s mother has said that her goal is for her son is to earn a degree from Notre Dame. He still has a way to go in terms of the number of credits needed to graduate. He could certainly play in the NFL and return at a later date to complete his education. Others have done this; most recently, Jimmy Clausen.

Tuitt’s coach Brian Kelly has said several things regarding Tuitt. Kelly has said that his goal for every player in his program is to earn a degree from Notre Dame. He has also said that they are consulting with the NFL as to Tuitt’s draft evaluation and that no decision will be made until they here back from the league.

Complicating matters further, if Tuitt stays, he will be playing for a new defensive coordinator with Bob Diaco leaving for the University of Connecticut where he will assume the duties of head coach.

Even though it seems declaring for the draft makes sense in the case of Tuitt, word on the street is that Tuitt is not ready to leave, and that his mother, for now, has stopped researching agents, and that there is great optimism about next season with the return of Everett Golson.

Given all of this, it would not be a big surprise if Tuitt returns for one more year with the Fightin’ Irish.

Jeff Merritt is a contributor to RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ merrittcoach, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. 

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