DE Hardy returning to Ole Miss

Mississippi Rebels defensive end Greg Hardy, one of the top pass-rushers in the SEC, said Thursday that he would return to school for his senior season.

Hardy and Rebels coach Houston Nutt met on Wednesday, and it was determined that it was in Hardy's best interests to play another season of college football before jumping to the NFL. Hardy was plagued by a stress fracture in his foot this season, but still finished with 8.5 sacks.

"We're very excited Greg has decided to return to school," Nutt said in a statement released by the school. "I had a good visit with his mom, and Greg has more he wants to accomplish. He talked about how much he loved the bowl experience, and he has personal goals he wants to attain."

Hardy had 9.5 tackles for loss -- including the 8.5 sacks -- in only eight games this season. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound junior had 10 sacks as a sophomore.

"I'm excited to return for my senior year and look forward to helping our team build on the success we enjoyed this season," Hardy said in the statement.

Scouts Inc. considered him one of the top pass-rush specialists potentially available in the upcoming draft.

Thursday is the deadline for college football underclassmen to file paperwork to be included in April's NFL draft.

Information from ESPN.com's Chris Low and ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad was used in this report.