Safety unsure if he'll return for final year of eligibility
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Safety Tom Zbikowski is trying to decide whether to return to Notre Dame for his final season of eligibility.
As No. 11 Notre Dame heads into the Jan. 3 Allstate Sugar Bowl against fourth-ranked LSU, Zbikowski ranks third in tackles on the Irish with 69. He is also Notre Dame's primary punt returner, averaging 9 yards a return. The senior has a year of eligibility left because he did not play as a freshman.
"I wish I knew what I was doing," Zbikowski said Wednesday. "I really don't know. I haven't really put much thought into it. It's probably not a good idea since that's my future. But I want to get ready for this game."
Last year, tight end Anthony Fasano said he would leave Notre Dame if he thought he would be picked in the first three rounds of the NFL draft. He was picked in the second round by Dallas.
Zbikowski, though, said he doesn't know what factors will help him decide. While Zbikowski was a third-team All-America last season for the Irish, he also made his professional boxing debut as a heavyweight with a first-round knockout at Madison Square Garden in June after winning 75 of 90 amateur bouts.
"I'll decide what I'm going to do later, but I haven't really thought about what would swing me either way," he said.
While he ponders his decision he is getting plenty of advice from others.
"Everyone has got their own opinion. You know, you try to listen to both sides to see what your best option is," he said. "But in the end I'll do what I feel is best for me and what I feel comfortable with."
Coach Charlie Weis said Tuesday he has met with all the players eligible to come back for fifth seasons. He would not comment on specific players but said: "I think Notre Dame football fans will be very happy when the results are in."
Weis said he couldn't talk specifics because unlike at most schools, where players automatically get a redshirt year if they don't play a season, players at Notre Dame must apply to the faculty board for a fifth season. To be eligible, players must receive their bachelor's degree.
"It's just there's a long process that takes place," Weis said.
Linebacker Travis Thomas, who also has another season of eligibility left, said he won't make up his mind until after the bowl game either.
Among the other Irish players who could return for another season are tight end John Carlson, center John Sullivan, defensive tackle Trevor Laws, cornerback Ambrose Wooden and linebacker Joe Brockington. None of them were available for comment Thursday.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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