Football: Defenders Shayne Skov, Trent Murphy and Ben Gardner will return to Stanford to pursue 2013 national championship
Four days after leaving the field and celebrating Stanford’s 20-14 win in the 99th Rose Bowl, senior linebackers Shayne Skov, Trent Murphy and Ben Gardner announced that they will be returning to school next year to use their final year of eligibility and try to lead the Cardinal back to the Rose Bowl a year from now in the BCS National Championship.
All three players had been considered likely draft selections in April’s upcoming NFL Draft and would have been picked anywhere from the second to sixth rounds.
Gardner let his Twitter followers know that he would be returning first. “For those who are wondering, I’ll be back at
#StanU for my 5th year and another big #partyinthebackfield …got that crystal ball on my mind,” he tweeted on Saturday afternoon.
A short while later Skov replied back to Gardner “The Mohawk would never leave The Mullet behind
It was only a few hours after Skov’s tweet that Murphy joined the conversation and announced he too would be back on the Farm for one more season.
Senior tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo have yet to announce whether or not they will declare for the 2013 NFL Draft — the deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft and forgo their remaining eligibility is Jan. 15. Ertz, a unanimous First Team All-American, has been evaluated as either the first or second-best NFL prospect at his position.
In what could have been the trio’s final game in cardinal and white, the Wisconsin-native Gardner made the Badgers pay for passing up on a native son by recording seven tackles and a pass deflection.
But it was Skov who showed flashes of returning to his dominant 2010 form with a team-high 11 tackles and several impressive plays in Stanford’s grinding victory. A torn MCL and ACL ended Skov’s 2011 season prematurely last September, and he has routinely said that he was still only playing at perhaps 85 percent by the end of this season.
Skov, Gardner and Murphy combined for 171 tackles this year, with Murphy chipping in a team-high 10 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss. Skov lead he team with 81 stops.
With the progression of a young offensive line and secondary, Stanford will likely enter the 2013 regular season with a top-five ranking and serious BCS title hopes.
Among the other senior players eligible and expected to return to the Farm next season are fullback Ryan Hewitt, cornerback Terrence Brown, offensive lineman Kevin Danser and defensive lineman Josh Mauro.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the score of the Rose Bowl as 24-14, not 20-14. We regret the error.