For the fourth time the past month, Notre Dame has lost a player to the pros who would’ve been a significant contributor in 2014.
The latest Irish player to take the early leap is Troy Niklas, who confirmed late Thursday night that he has decided to leave South Bend in order to make himself available for the May NFL draft. In a statement announcing his surprising decision, the tight end thanked pretty much everyone as he bid adieu to the football program.
“I have made the very difficult decision to pursue my childhood dream and will enter the 2014 NFL Draft. I have thoroughly enjoyed my Notre Dame experience and want to thank the university, coach 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, a four-star member of the Irish’s 2011 recruiting class, had 32 catches for 498 yards and five touchdowns, totals that were all third on the team in 2013. Prior to this past season, the 6-7, 270-pound junior had just five receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown.