This comes as a bit of a surprise, but Notre Dame running back George Atkinson III has declared for the NFL Draft and will not be returning to South Bend next season.

“I guess it's like anything else when you feel you're ready for something and the time is proper for you,” Atkinson's father, George Jr, told Blue Gold Illustrated. “If you have an opportunity why not try to seize it?

"It was nothing other than a conscious decision based on opportunity. He feels he's ready for it."

It should be noted that Atkinson was suspended for Notre Dame's Pinstripe Bowl appearance against Rutgers, and tweeted that he had been suspended "for texting friends and family during team meal, as I did all season." Atkinson quickly deleted the tweet.

Even before the suspension, though, Atkinson saw his workload at Notre Dame decrease. He finished 2013 second on the team with 555 yards rushing and three touchdowns, but after receiving 32 carries in consecutive games against Oklahoma and Arizona State, Atkinson only carried the ball 37 times in Notre Dame's final six games of the regular season. The carries Atkinson had been getting started going to freshman back Tarean Folston instead.