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Irish captain Drue Tranquill announces plans to return in 2018

Friday night was a celebration for Notre Dame football.

After a 9-3 season, the annual Echoes Awards show had a starkly different feeling than last December.

"I remember last year," said senior captain Drue Tranquill. "It was everyone kind of jokingly coming together. Nobody wanted to celebrate a 4-8 season. To see how far we’ve come, I think it’s special and a nice night to have.”

Tranquill, who until this weekend hadn't decided whether he would return, took advantage of the celebratory atmosphere to announce his intentions.

"I’m going to be coming back home for my fifth year," he said to applause, while accepting the Echoe award for Student-Athlete of the Year. "We’re going to finish what we started, because this is special and I want to be a part of it.”

After the show, Tranquill spoke about his excitement for another run with the Irish.

“I love every single guy in that locker room," he said. "I think that’s what planted the seed in my heart that I should come back and I desired to come back to be with those guys. I’ve seen the work they’ve put in and it’s an incredible group of guys.”

While this past season had so much promise heading into November, the struggles down the stretch put the idea in Tranquill's mind to complete the mission of playing for a national title.

"I think it started after the Miami game," he said, "just on the buses, realizing we probably weren’t going to make the College Football Playoff anymore, and realizing everything we had put into this thing.

"I felt in my heart like I owed it to this team to come back and finish what we started. Nothing is guaranteed and we have a lot of work ahead of us, but I’m excited for the opportunity.”

In addition to Tranquill, tight end Nic Weishar also said he would return for a fifth year.

Players like Te'Von Coney, Jerry Tillery, and Josh Adams were still quiet on their intentions.

The focus for now is to finish 2017 with a bowl win against LSU.

“We’re training hard," said Tranquill. "We had an extremely tough team run today. We’re preparing like it’s fall camp. It’s a big game for us and a big opportunity.”

The Citrus Bowl takes place in Orlando. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on New Year's Day.

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