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Irish TE Fasano takes pass on senior season

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Tight end Anthony Fasano decided the
lure of the NFL outweighed his desire for winning a national
championship at Notre Dame.
The 6-foot-4, 257-pound Fasano, one of the nation's top tight
ends, said Monday he will forgo his final year of eligibility and
enter the NFL draft.
"Being in this position is a lifelong dream of mine," he said.
"I realize I am finally able to reach it and I'm going to take
advantage of that. It's been a long, hard decision."
Fasano, one of three finalists for the John Mackey Award given
to an outstanding tight end, said he made up his mind to turn pro
after Ohio State beat the Irish in the Fiesta Bowl. He said coach
Charlie Weis supported his decision.
"He wasn't encouraging me to go either way, but he encouraged
me to do what's best for me," Fasano said. "He felt ... this was
definitely a fine time for me to go."
Weis, who was at the American Football Coaches Association
Convention and did not attend the news conference, said in a
statement that he backed Fasano's decision.
"Despite the fact we'd love for Anthony to return, we also
recognize that he has a great opportunity ahead of him," Weis
said.
Fasano, of Verona, N.J., said during the season he probably
would not enter the draft unless he would be picked on the first
day.
Fasano said the most difficult part of leaving is that the Irish
hope to compete for a national championship next season. The Irish
finished this season ranked ninth, the highest since 1993, and
return most of their key players from their record-setting offense.
"I think that was one of the things that really held me back
from saying I was definitely going," he said. "I came here to win
a national championship, and I didn't do that. We have an
opportunity next year, but personally I think the best decision was
to leave at this time."
Fasano is four credit hours shy of receiving his marketing
degree. He said he planned to take two independent study classes in
the spring so he can graduate in May.
Fasano was Notre Dame's third-leading receiver in 2005 with 47
catches for 576 yards. The school record for tight ends is 54
catches for 797 yards set by Ken MacAfee in 1977.
In three seasons with the Irish, Fasano had 92 catches for 1,123
yards. MacAfee holds the career record with 128 for 1,759 yards.
Fasano's best game this season was against Michigan State, when
he had seven catches for 93 yards. He had four catches for 86 yards
against USC and a career-long 43-yard touchdown catch against
Tennessee. Fasano said the system Weis installed at Notre Dame,
which helped New England win three Super Bowls, helped prepare him
for the NFL.
"I can't say I could be in a better system to go from college
to the NFL," Fasano said. "Along with my position coaches and my
other coaches, coach Weis has really developed me. It will make the
adjustment easy."