Ertz, Toilolo to NFL: It's Official

His teammates Ben Gardner, Shayne Skov, and Trent Murphy might have toughened the decision, but the nation's best tight end is headed to the NFL. Unanimous All-American Zach Ertz is going pro.

Levine Toilolo has declared his intentions to leave, too. The news is officially confirmed by both tight ends' statements, which are pasted below. Zach Ertz finished the 2012 season with 69 catches for 898 yards and six touchdowns. Because he redshirted his freshman 2009 season, the senior had the possibility of returning for a fifth year.

Toilolo finished his final season with 24 catches for 393 yards and four touchdowns. His monolithic height is expected to draw keen interest from the NFL.

Stanford must reload at the tight end position next season. Fullback Ryan Hewitt, who was recruited as a tight end, is a candidate to move to the spot -- at least part time. Six-foot-seven freshman Luke Kaumatule has shown great promise at the position this season, while sophomore receiver Devon Cajuste can also potentially move to tight end. Davis Dudchock, who recorded a handful of catches in last April's spring game, will be a senior in 2013.

The Cardinal are also recruiting four talented tight ends in their next class: Eric Cotton, Greg Taboada, Durham Smythe, and Austin Hooper. Both Cotton and Taboada have verbally committed to The Farm.

Here is Ertz's statement, followed by Toilolo's:

To my friends and family in the Stanford community:

In light of achieving our collective dream of winning the Rose Bowl Game, it is difficult to imagine not playing side-by-side with my Stanford brothers for another season.  However, after returning home and talking to my family, coaches and advisors and conducting a thorough analysis of the situation, I have decided to forego my final year of eligibility at Stanford University.

It has been a dream of mine to play in the NFL for as long as I can remember, and I would not be in this position without my coaches, professors and everyone associated with the University.  It has been a true honor to play for such an incredible program, and I'm proud to be graduating with a bachelor of science degree in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University in June.

Finally, from the bottom of my heart:  I love my team and thank you all for every memory on and off the field.  I will certainly be cheering loudest when we win the National Championship next year!

Zach Ertz, #86

After much thought, prayer, and discussion with my family, I have decided to forego my senior season of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft.  It has been a tremendous honor to be a part of this team and University for the past four years.  Academics are a great priority for a Stanford man, and I take great pride in being on track to graduate from Stanford University in June.

I would like to thank all of the coaches and staff who have shaped me as both a person and a player, allowing me to be in this position.  Writing this brief sentiment has caused me to realize how much I will truly miss this extraordinary University, and more importantly the people here - including the professors, students and fans.  I will forever cherish the memories I have made with my friends and teammates, and I thank you all for making my time here special.

To all of my teammates, I wish you all the best of luck next season, and I look forward to being able to cheer for you guys during the National Championship Game!
Go Card!
Levine Toilolo, #11

David Lombardi is the Stanford Football Insider for The Bootleg and FOX Sports Next. Check him out at Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMLombardi.

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