With the deadline to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft now passed, junior running back and Heisman runner-up Bryce Love has decided to return for his final year of eligibility at Stanford.
Student-athletes had until Monday night to decide to enter the NFL Draft, but Love had remained silent on the matter until he announced on Tuesday his decision to return.
Another year of Love serves as great news for the Cardinal because after an offseason where three players on the defense (Harrison Phillips, Justin Reid and Quenton Meeks) declared for the Draft, the team is going to need the explosive offense Love provides.
Love broke Stanford’s single-season rushing record with 2,118 rushing yards on a FBS-record 8.1 yards per carry. His rushing output was only second to San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny, despite Love suffering a high-ankle sprain forcing him to miss one game and play the rest of the season at less than a hundred percent.
A reason for the high yards per carry was Love’s home-run hitting ability. He had an FBS-record 13 runs of 50 yards or more.
Love’s 2017 campaign also saw him break Stanford’s single-game rushing record with 301 rushing yards against Arizona State on only 25 attempts.
Both records were previously held by Christian McCaffrey.
Love’s decision is a bit of a surprise as he would have been the consensus No. 2 running back in the draft, behind Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, and the shelf life of a running back in the NFL, especially smaller backs, is shorter than that of other positions.
Stanford does have history of Heisman runner-ups remaining on the Farm for their senior year when quarterback Andrew Luck decided to forgo a top-2 overall draft position to finish his degree.
“I’m not saying [Love]’s the best one that’s been through here, I’m not starting that argument,” Stanford David Shaw said after the game against the Sun Devils. “But at the same time I’ve never seen anything like what happened today. That was unbelievable.”
After another year of Love, which could see him break Stepfan Taylor’s Stanford record of career rushing yards (Taylor had 4,300 and Love is at 3,123), Shaw might just have to declare him the best Cardinal running back ever.
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.