SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame starting right tackle Steve Elmer is done with football even though he has a year of eligibility left.
The 6-5, 315-pound lineman from Midland, Michigan, released a letter on the school's website Tuesday explaining his decision to skip his final year of eligibility. He said he is graduating a year early this May, he no longer wants to play football and he is excited about pursuing an unspecified career opportunity in the Washington, D.C., area.
''I have been presented with an incredible opportunity to pursue a career doing something in which I have great interest, and at a great company to boot,'' he wrote.
Elmer is an economics major and spent this past summer working as an intern for U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar, a Michigan Republican. Elmer graduated early from high school so he could enroll at Notre Dame for the spring semester in January 2013. He started 30 games for the Irish, including every game the past two seasons.
Elmer said his decision is not a sign he is unhappy at Notre Dame, writing ''everything is great.''
''I have no problems with the coaching staff, no academic issues, and no violations of team rules that normally come along with a statement like this. My reasons for cutting my playing career short have nothing to do with any negative experiences at Notre Dame; in fact, I would consider my commitment to this exceptional University the best decision I have ever made,'' he wrote. ... ''The excitement I feel about the professional opportunity in front of me has helped me to realize that I'm just ready to be done with football. I've been playing this game for many years, and quite honestly my heart is no longer in it.''
Coach Brian Kelly issued a statement saying Elmer is an example of the talented people Notre Dame develops.
''This university provides so many different avenues toward success, whether that's on the football field or in the boardroom, and Steve's another outstanding example,'' he said.
With the graduations of center Nick Martin and tackle Ronnie Stanley, the only two returning starting lineman are tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Quenton Nelson. Sophomore Alex Bars started two games at guard before fracturing his left ankle against USC.
The Irish line helped the Irish to one of their best rushing seasons in recent years as Notre Dame finished 10-3 and ranked No. 11, totaling 2,699 yards on the ground for an average of 207.6 yards a game. The last time the Irish averaged more than 200 yards a game was in 2000, averaging 213.5.