In a relatively surprising move, Troy Niklas announces his intentions to enter the NFL Draft.
NOTRE DAME — The Notre Dame offense took another hit, as tight end Troy Niklas elected to enter the NFL Draft instead of returning for his senior year.
Niklas released a statement to SI.com Thursday night, Jan. 9, regarding his intentions.
“I have made the very difficult decision to pursue my childhood dream and will enter the 2014 NFL Draft,” he said. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my Notre Dame experience and want to thank the university, Coach (Brian) Kelly, my teammates, the football staff, administration, and my teachers, as well as all of my friends and the entire Notre Dame community for providing this Southern California native with the experience of a lifetime.
“While I will miss being part of the team next year, I will always be part of the Notre Dame family and look forward to returning to earn my degree from the greatest university in the country. Go Irish.”
Niklas was Notre Dame’s third receiver in 2013 in receptions (32), yards (498) and receiving touchdowns (five). The 6-foot-6, 270-pound Fullerton, Calif., native came to Notre Dame in 2011 as a linebacker but flipped to tight end at the beginning of 2012.
He had initially been noncommittal regarding his draft evaluation earlier in December, indicating prior to the Dec. 28 Pinstripe Bowl that he would likely return to Notre Dame.
“I think it’s a really good learning experience, see what they have to say, what they think I can improve on for next year,” he said before the team left for New York City.
Following the Pinstripe Bowl, Niklas would not comment on his future plans.
Niklas becomes the third Notre Dame underclassman to declare for the 2014 draft, joining juniors Stephon Tuitt and George Atkinson III. Senior Louis Nix, who had a fifth year of eligibility, also declared for the draft in December.