Taylor Lewan passes on NFL draft

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan junior tackle Taylor Lewan made a surprising announcement Wednesday night.

He chose to stay in school for his final year of eligibility.

"There was no doubt in my mind at the end of it I had to return to the University of Michigan," Lewan said.

The left tackle had been tabbed as one of the top draft-eligible offensive linemen available, but he decided to put off professional football for one more season to return to Michigan.

The 6-foot-8, 309-pound Lewan was the No. 13 overall prospect and No. 2 offensive tackle among this year's NFL draft prospects, according to ESPN's Scouts Inc.

It is similar to the move made by another Michigan offensive tackle, Jake Long, who came back to Ann Arbor for his senior season in 2007 and ended up as the No. 1 pick in the 2008 draft.

Barring injury, Lewan will be one of the top-rated players available in the 2014 NFL draft.

Lewan consulted with many people, including Long, on his decision. He had conversations lasting between 30-45 minutes with Long recently in Baton Rouge, La.

"I asked him why he stayed and it's funny because every single thing he said about staying at the University of Michigan went through my head countless times," Lewan said. "So it's kind of interesting to kind of feel like we had the same mindset."

Lewan said he made his decision before the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day and told his teammates about 20 minutes before he made his decision public Wednesday, something, he said, surprised them.

One of the first things Lewan plans on doing now that he made the decision is to take out an insurance policy in case of injury.

"That's definitely happening," Lewan said.