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Report: Niklas leaving Notre Dame

Troy Niklas became the latest player to decide not to return to Notre Dame and enter the NFL draft.

The tight end told SI.com that he will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

The 6-foot-7, 270-pounder was the Irish's third leading receiver this season, catching 32 passes for 498 yards with five touchdowns. He leaves Notre Dame with 37 receptions for 573 yards and six touchdowns after playing linebacker as a freshman.

Niklas received a second-round grade from the NFL draft advisory board.

"I have made the very difficult decision to pursue my childhood dream and will enter the 2014 NFL Draft," Niklas told SI.com in a statement. "I have thoroughly enjoyed my Notre Dame experience and want to thank the University, coach (Brian) Kelly, my teammates, the football staff, administration and my teachers, as well as all of my friends and the entire Notre Dame community for providing this Southern California native with the experience of a lifetime.

"While I will miss being part of the team next year, I will always be part of the Notre Dame family and look forward to returning to earn my degree from the greatest university in the country. Go Irish."

Niklas joins defensive end Stephon Tuitt, nose guard Louis Nix III and running back George Atkinson III as players leaving Notre Dame with a year of eligibility remaining.

Niklas' departure comes on a busy day for the Irish.

Notre Dame lost leading returning receiver DaVaris Daniels for the spring semester because of an academic issue, lost defensive lineman Matt Dickerson from their 2014 recruiting class and a report surfaced that the university will be switching its apparel supplier from adidas to Under Armour at the end of the school year.

The Journal Gazette's Assistant Sports Editor Tony Krausz covers The University of Notre Dame. Krausz, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a native of St. Louis, has been assistant sports editor since October 2005. Prior to joining the JG, he worked at two papers in Mississippi covering high school and college athletics.

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