|Michael Conroy/Associated Press|
|The mother of Notre Dame defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt said her son hasn't decided whether to enter the 2014 NFL Draft.|
Wednesday afternoon, Notre Dame junior defensive end Stephon Tuitt told the school newspaper he would return for his senior season. Thursday morning, his mom told the Chicago Tribune that he misspoke and that no final decision has been made.
"Stephon has not decided what he is going to do," Tamara Tuitt-Bartlett said in a text message to the newspaper. "What he meant to say was that school is the focal point and he will get his degree from ND."
The NFL's deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is Jan. 15; the list is officially released Jan. 19.
The Tribune reported Thursday morning that a Notre Dame athletic department spokesman confirmed the accuracy of Tuitt's quote to the student newspaper.
Tuitt (6-foot-6, 312 pounds) is seen as an almost-certain first-round pick should he declare for the draft. But his production this season pales in comparison to his numbers last season; he has 18 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and an interception this season after compiling 12 sacks, 47 tackles, three forced fumbles and nine quarterback hurries last season.
He had offseason surgery for a sports hernia, and Irish coach Brian Kelly told reporters last week that he was not yet back to 100 percent.
Before the season, Tuitt-Bartlett had told the Tribune that her son earning a degree was her main concern last year. But irishillustrated.com reported Wednesday that she had been "actively interviewing potential agents in recent months."
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.