Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 2, 2019

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 10 of 63 NOV. 2, 2019 11 At the halfway point of the 2019 season, or prior to the game at Michi- gan Oct. 26, it appears that at least 16 of the 22 freshmen scholarship players signed last winter by Notre Dame will preserve a fifth season of eligibility in 2023. Per the new NCAA rules instituted in 2018, a player can appear in up to four games during any part of the season (including bowl games) with- out losing a year of eligibility. Three Irish freshmen surpassed that quota so far, and with everyone else the playing time will be judiciously used. For example, running back Kyren Williams has appeared in four con- tests, but Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly revealed he won't be used again this season so a year of el- igibility doesn't have to be forfeited. The same could happen with rover Jack Kiser, who played his fourth game on special teams, versus USC Oct. 12. The plan also was to use line- backer Marist Liufau for only four games on special teams. Here was the breakdown before this year's Michigan game: Freshman Eligibility Already Used (Games Played) Jay Bramblett, P (6) Jacob Lacey, DT (6) Kyle Hamilton, S (6) On The Bubble Cam Hart, CB (2) Jack Kiser, Rover (4) Marist Liufau, LB (3) Fifth Year Likely To Be Preserved Brendon Clark, QB (2) Kyren Williams, RB (4) Zeke Correll, C (2) John Olmstead, OG (0) Quinn Carroll, OT (0) Andrew Kristofic, OT (2) Kendall Abdur-Rahman, WR (0) Isaiah Foskey, DE (2) NaNa Osafo-Mensah, DE (2) Howard Cross III, DT (2) Hunter Spears, DT (2) JT Bertrand, LB (2) Osita Ekwonu, LB (1) Isaiah Rutherford, CB (1) KJ Wallace, CB (1) Litchfield Ajavon, S (1) UNDER THE DOME COACHES WALKING THE REDSHIRT TIGHTROPE WITH DONTE VAUGHN Entering the game against USC Oct. 12, the Notre Dame football media relations release had senior cornerback Donte Vaughn with having not played versus Lou- isville and Bowling Green, but having done so against New Mexico, Georgia and Virginia in the consecutive games from Sept. 14-28. That meant that when Vaughn played 36 snaps against USC (in place of the slightly injured TaRiq Bracy), that would have been his fourth game, and therefore he could not appear in another game this season if he wanted to apply for a fifth season in 2020. Upon further review and confirmation from Notre Dame, Vaughn actually did not play versus Georgia — and his third game was versus USC. That means he can play one more contest in 2019 (including the bowl) without losing the chance at a fifth season next year, which had been a plan. Kelly indicated during the week of preparation for the Michigan game Oct. 26 that the 6-3, 212-pound Vaughn was "guaranteed" to play against the Wolverines, which featured a physical and rangy receiving corps. With fifth-year senior starter Shaun Crawford recovering — he was deemed ready to return for the Michigan game — from a dislocated elbow and tearing four liga- ments in it during the Virginia contest Sept. 28, the trio of Troy Pride Jr., Crawford and Bracy could handle the cornerback rotation through November unless an emer- gency situation develops (as it did versus USC). The day after the USC game Kelly stated he was not yet certain how the staff wants to go about balancing the need to win now with the desire to have Vaughn back in 2020 at a position that needs much more experience. "It's not an easy answer for us right now," Kelly admitted. "We want to be able to do what's right for the program [in 2019], and for the young man, too." A week later, Kelly did say conversations about Vaughn returning in 2020 have taken place. "They are not surface conversations about where we go from [the Michigan game], but I'm not going to get into them at this time," he said. — Lou Somogyi In the first six games this season, freshman defensive tackle Jacob Lacey accounted for six stops (three solo) and 1.5 tackles for a loss. PHOTO BY MIKE MILLER Freshman Eligibility Updates FORMER IRISH PLAYERS CHOSEN IN XFL DRAFT Five former Notre Dame players were selected during the XFL Draft Oct. 15-16. The fledgling new eight-team winter/spring league will start in the winter of 2020. • Offensive lineman Jarron Jones (2012-16), who played de- fense for the Irish — New York Guardians • Linebacker Greer Martini (2014-17) — Dallas Renegades (coached by Bob Stoops) • Linebacker Nyles Morgan (2014-17) — Seattle Dragons • Long snapper Scott Daly (2013-16) — New York Guardians • Safety Max Redfield (2013-15) — DC Defenders. Redfield fin- ished his collegiate career at Indiana (Pa.) after getting dismissed at Notre Dame prior to the 2016 season. Among former Notre Dame players in the drat pool who were not selected were running backs Tarean Folston and Jonas Gray, tight end Nic Weishar, defensive lineman Jay Hayes, linebacker Te'von Coney and punter Tyler Newsome. The 10-game regular season begins in February and will con- clude with the championship April 26 at a site to be determined. According to a report from Pro Football Talk, the players drafted and retained by teams will become full-time XFL employees Dec. 4 and will stay employed through May 31 if they remain on a roster. The Action Network's Darren Rovell reported that guaranteed pay on a standard contract will be $1,040 a week (about $54,080 per year) and that maximum weekly salaries will be $4,947, which totals $257,244. The XFL will attempt to succeed where the short-lived Alliance of American Football (AAF) failed last spring, folding before its first season was even completed. — Lou Somogyi

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