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Notre Dame's Tuitt receives draft grade

Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt received his evaluation back from the NFL and received a second-round grade, the university announced in a report from the team's day in New York on Tuesday.

The No. 25 Irish (8-4) play Rutgers (6-6) in the Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

"We sat down and had a nice conversation about where I think that leads him," coach Brian Kelly told Irish Illustrated after Tuesday's practice. "I gave him the facts of his academics. My job is to provide him with all that information whether he wants to hear it or not. Then he has to make a decision.

"His focus this week is on the game. Right after the game, his No. 1 priority is to make a decision as to whether he enters the NFL draft or comes back to Notre Dame."

One current Irish player did come to the decision that he will not play for the team next year.

Kelly told Irish Ilustrated that senior backup quarterback Andrew Hendrix, who didn't play as a freshman, asked for his release. Hendrix has thrown for 360 yards with a touchdown and an interception in three seasons.

Hendrix joins cornerback Lo Wood and tight end Alex Welch as players that have decided to use their final year of eligibility playing elsewhere.

Kelly had hinted that with Everett Golson being readmitted to the university after being suspended for the fall semester because of an academic issue, and with Malik Zaire, who didn't play this season, and incoming freshman DeShone Kizer in the mix next year it would be hard to keep four scholarship quarterbacks.

"I think four quarterbacks on scholarship is heavy," Kelly said on Dec. 8. "But circumstances sometimes put you in that position, and the circumstances might be that you've inherited quarterbacks that have scholarships already.

"But if you're working through a natural progression, three and a preferred walk-on would suit me just fine."

Bishop Dwenger quarterback Mike Fiacable has been offered a "preferred walk-on" spot at Notre Dame, but he has not committed to joining the program.

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