Party in the backfield: 3 top Stanford defenders returning

Jason O. Watson

Shayne Skov, Ben Gardner, and Trent Murphy are returning for their senior seasons at Stanford.

Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov, defensive end Ben Gardner, and outside linebacker Trent Murphy will all return for their senior seasons with the Cardinal, according to Elliott Almond of the Mercury News. All three players announced their intentions to return to Palo Alto on Twitter Saturday:

Skov led the Stanford defense with 81 tackles, while Murphy recorded ten sacks and 18 tackles for loss. Gardner added 7.5 sacks and 49 tackles. Stanford's defense ranked 11th nationally in points allowed (17.2 ppg) and 22nd in total defense (338.92 yards per game).

All three players were featured in Stanford's 20-14 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day. It was Stanford's second BCS bowl win in three years, and the program's first Rose Bowl victory since 1972. Following that game, head coach David Shaw set the program's sights on the national championship, and the commitment of its three defensive stalwarts makes Stanford a preseason favorite for the crystal football in 2013.

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