Four to return to Notre Dame for fifth year

Notre Dame will return four players for their fifth seasons in 2014, as Austin Collinsworth, Christian Lombard, Kendall Moore and Justin Utupo will all be back with the team, sources confirmed to ESPN.com.

IrishIllustrated.com first reported the news.

Collinsworth and Lombard had been widely expected to return given their career production with the Fighting Irish, as Collinsworth started 11 games at safety in 2013 and led the team with three interceptions. Lombard started all 13 games at right tackle during Notre Dame's 12-1 season in 2012 before moving to right guard this past fall, when he started the first seven games of the season before being shut down following back surgery to repair a herniated disc.

Moore and Utupo, meanwhile, saw their value increase down the stretch during 2013, as injuries mounted on defense.

Moore, an inside linebacker, tallied 17 total tackles in 2013, including one for loss, to go with an interception and a pass defended. He has 43 total tackles for his career, including three for loss.

Utupo, a defensive end, notched seven total tackles, including one for loss, this past fall.

Collinsworth, the son of NFL commentator Cris Collinsworth, will be Notre Dame's fourth-leading returning tackler from last season, having tallied 43 total stops in 2013, including 0.5 for loss. He added three passes defended and three quarterback hurries -- one of which, on Michigan's Devin Gardner, led to a pass that Stephon Tuitt picked off in the end zone for a pick-six back in Week 2.

Collinsworth earned the Irish's special teams player of the year honors in 2011 and played in all 26 games in 2010 and 2011 before missing 2012 because of shoulder and back surgeries. He has 68 total tackles for his career, plus a forced fumble.

The return of these four players, plus the 22 committed recruits from the Class of 2014, ups Notre Dame's scholarship number to 82 players, as the Irish were set to return 56 scholarship players in 2014. Two of those recruits, ESPN 300 receiver Justin Brent (Speedway, Ind./Speedway) and ESPN 300 defensive end Andrew Trumbetti (Demarest, N.J./Demarest), enrolled at Notre Dame early and started spring classes Tuesday.