Stanford All-America tight end Zach Ertz announced Monday afternoon that he will forgo his final season of eligibility and enter the NFL draft.

Hours later, fellow tight end Levine Toilolo did the same.

The draft-declaration double strips Stanford of two of its top playmakers: Ertz and Toilolo combined for 93 catches and 10 touchdowns.

"The Stanford (positives) speak for themselves, and I'm going to miss it," said Ertz, who is projected to be selected late in the first round or early in the second.

"I've had a lot of great experiences. But I gathered all the facts and made the decision."

Ertz, who attended Monte Vista High in Danville, declined to detail the feedback he received from the NFL draft advisory board, other than to say his projected round was "high enough."

He is a senior academically and on track to earn his degree this spring in management science and engineering.

Toilolo, who started every game along with Ertz in Stanford's two-tight-end formation, averaged 16.4 yards per catch and scored four touchdowns. He is considered an intriguing prospect because of his 6-foot-8 frame and agility.

"After much thought, prayer, and discussion with my family, I have decided to forgo my senior season of eligibility and enter the NFL draft," Toilolo said in a statement released by the school.

Without Ertz and Toilolo, Stanford could turn to freshman Luke Kaumatule for production at tight end. Fullback Ryan Hewitt, who played tight end early in his Cardinal career, is another option.

In addition to Ertz and Toilolo, the Cardinal will lose senior receivers Jamal-Rashad Patterson and Drew Terrell, along with record-setting senior tailback Stepfan Taylor. The quintet accounted for 18 of Stanford's 19 receiving touchdowns this season.

Ertz doesn't expect Stanford to miss a beat, however.

"We have a lot of talent back on offense," he said. "There's no reason the offensive line won't be the best in the country, and (quarterback) Kevin Hogan is going to be something special."

Ertz caught a team-high 69 passes this season for 898 yards and six touchdowns. He was responsible for a number of clutch plays, including the tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter of Stanford's overtime victory at Oregon.

Ertz has not picked an agent and will train for the draft workouts at California Strength in San Ramon, the same facility used by former Stanford players Ryan Whalen and Chris Owusu.

Ertz plans to withdraw from school for the winter academic quarter in order to participate in the predraft process. He will re-enroll for the spring quarter and graduate in June.

  • Three of Stanford's top defensive players, linebackers Shayne Skov and Trent Murphy and end Ben Gardner, announced Saturday that they will return for their senior seasons.