Notre Dame DL Stephon Tuitt will enter 2014 NFL Draft

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The behemoth defensive end is considered a first-round pick by many experts.

Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt will forgo his senior season in South Bend and declare for the 2014 NFL Drafthe told Sports Illustrated on Sunday.

Tuitt, a massive 6-foot-6, 322-pound lineman known for his surprising athleticism, is considered by experts as a first-round pick, though Irish coach Brian Kelly said before the Pinstripe Bowl that Tuitt received a second-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. SB Nation ranks him the No. 3 defensive end in the upcoming draft class.

The junior told SI.com that draft projections played no role in his decision.

"I didn't look at any of that stuff. That stuff didn't mean anything to me. What meant more to me was, after the season was over, I thought long and hard and I'm ready to go to the next level. I prayed about it, talked to my family, I really took time to myself to see if I'm ready for that."

Tuitt was slowed in the beginning of the 2013 season by offseason sports hernia surgery, but rebounded to post 49 tackles and 7.5 sacks. His 12 sacks during his sophomore season ranked second-best in the country in 2012.

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