Bryce Love to Return to Stanford, Opts Not to Declare for 2018 NFL Draft

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2018

Stanford running back Bryce Love celebrates in the end zone after a touchdown run against Rice during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Stanford running back Bryce Love is returning to school for his senior season and will forgo entry into the 2018 NFL draft.

According to Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle, Love's father, Chris, revealed the news in a text Tuesday morning that read, "Bryce will return for his senior year!"

After rushing for 1,005 yards and five touchdowns in his first two seasons with the Cardinal, Love exploded in 2017, accumulating 2,118 yards on the ground and 19 touchdowns.

His huge numbers made him one of the finalists for the Heisman Trophy, with Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield ultimately winning the award.

Despite his breakout season, it's hard to project where Love would have fallen in the NFL draft had he declared. On his most recent big board, B/R's Matt Miller listed him as the ninth-best running back in his positional rankings. In a strong running back class, that could have left Love as anything from a potential first-rounder to an early third-day pick.

In October, Bucky Brooks of NFL.com compared him to the Cincinnati Bengals' Giovani Bernard, noting: "Love is an intriguing back with the skills and production to entice evaluators looking for a rotational back with big-play potential. If he can master the nuances of route running, he can rival his predecessor, Christian McCaffrey, as a versatile offensive weapon."

Love didn't present the overall potential of a player like Penn State's Saquon Barkley, however. Given the other players likely above him in the draft, returning for his senior season could see his draft stock improve even further in 2019.

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