Stanford linebacker A.J. Tarpley and defensive end Henry Anderson are set to return next season, welcome news for a defense which must replace three of the most decorated players in school history.
Head coach David Shaw made the announcement to the San Jose Mercury News, confirming that Tarpley and Anderson will be back for their senior seasons. The Cardinal is still waiting on decisions from All-America left guard David Yankey, safety Ed Reynolds and right tackle Cameron Fleming.
"They could take it to the last day," said Shaw, referring to the Jan. 15 deadline for underclassmen to enter the 2014 NFL Draft.
Stanford loses outside linebacker Trent Murphy, inside linebacker Shayne Skov and defensive end Ben Gardner to graduation, the emotional leaders of the two-time defending Pac-12 champions who also combined for 44 tackles for loss and 25 sacks this season.
Tarpley (6-foot-2, 238 pounds) was second on the team this season with 93 tackles, with five tackles for loss, one sack, one interception and one forced fumble. Tarpley brings a steady presence in the middle, while Skov brought an intensity and willingness to take risks, such as timing the snap count and flying through for a fourth-down goal-line stop in the Pac-12 title game at Arizona State.
Anderson (6-6, 295) played in only eight games this season because of injury but had four tackles for loss with three sacks. Such disruptive presence will be necessary to make up for the departure of Gardner and Murphy.