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Kelly says Tuitt “stumbled” into question about future

Matthew DeFranks | Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Irish junior defensive end Stephon Tuitt said he will return for his senior season next year, he told The Observer on Wednesday.

“I’m coming back next year,” Tuitt said. “I’m a junior. I still have one year.”

When asked again if he was returning next year, Tuitt responded, “Yes.”

Late Wednesday night, Tuitt tweeted, “Can’t Believe everything you read. Goodnight.” The tweet was soon deleted.

In a Chicago Tribune report on Thursday, Tamara Tuitt-Barlett said in a text message that Tuitt had not made a decision regarding his future.

Irish coach Brian Kelly said Tuitt did not mean to declare his decision either way.

I think more than anything else, he kind of stumbled into the question and answer, didnt probably answer it in the manner that he wanted to,” Kelly said. “I think he was saying Yeah, Ive got another year. Im coming back.  I think his intentions werent to say that he was necessarily making a decision.”

A preseason All-American, Tuitt has 18 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks this season.

In 2012, he recorded 47 tackles, 12 sacks and nine quarterback hurries. His 12 sacks in a single season ranks second in Notre Dame history.

Tuitt has started in 19 consecutive games for Notre Dame.

The 6-foot-6, 312-pound lineman is projected to be a first-round draft pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Scouts, Inc., has Tuitt rated as the No. 14 overall player in the draft and he sits at No. 11 on ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.’s big board.

Underclassmen typically have to declare for the NFL Draft by the end of January.

Contact Matthew DeFranks at mdefrank@nd.edu