Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 12, 2016

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

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54 SEPT. 12, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED O n National Signing Day 2013, Notre Dame did something sel- dom achieved in college football: its 24-man haul, ranked No. 3 nation- ally by Rivals, covered nearly every one of the 11 positions on both offense and defense. Few days in a college football office are more joyous than National Signing Day, when the promise of new faces and the toil of inking them elicits col- lective celebration. Alas, much can occur over four years, and it's sobering how many in head coach Brian Kelly's best recruit- ing haul in his seven years have been on the operating table or are no longer with the team. Football is a gladiator sport where attrition is inevitable, mak- ing the "40-year decision" even more pronounced. Only 12 of the original 24-man group began their senior year with Notre Dame in 2016, showing just how hum- bling the sport can be. Quarterback: Malik Zaire He is returning from a fractured an- kle suffered in game two of last season that sidelined him the balance of the year, but battled well this August to earn at least a co-starting role. Running Backs: Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston Five-star prospect Bryant, who left the university last August when he was declared academically ineligible, tragi- cally died on May 8 in a Florida shoot- ing. Folston had only three carries in the 2015 opener before tearing his ACL. Wide Receivers: Will Fuller, Torii Hunter Jr. and Corey Robinson Fuller is in the NFL after becoming a first-round pick. Hunter shattered his leg in an all-star game practice before enrolling at Notre Dame. It wasn't until last season with 28 catches that he began rounding into form. Repeated concussions prompted Robinson, Notre Dame's 2016-17 stu- dent body president, to call it a career after nabbing 65 passes his first three seasons. Tight Ends: Mike Heuerman, Jacob Matuska and Durham Smythe Hernia surgeries hindered Heuer- man's progress, and in August 2015 he was not cleared medically to play football again. Smythe missed the final 10 regu- lar season games in 2015 because of knee and shoulder surgeries. Matuska moved from defense this spring to sup- plement the tight end depth. Offensive Line: Hunter Bivin, Steve Elmer, Mike McGlinchey, Colin McGovern and John Montelus Bivin and McGovern had been ham- pered during their careers by various health ailments, but McGovern earned his first career start as a senior, at Texas. Elmer enrolled early with Robinson in January 2013, roomed with him and joined him on the Dean's List. Despite 30 career starts, the right guard opted to graduate this May and move on to a life after football because "my heart is no longer in it." Montelus battled a shoulder problem early in his career and had an audition at nose guard last spring before return- ing to offense as a reserve tackle. Left tackle McGlinchey — who re- ceived the least fanfare among the quintet when he enrolled — is pro- jected as Notre Dame's next first-round pick in the NFL Draft. Defensive Line: Doug Randolph (moved from outside linebacker to end), Isaac Rochell and Eddie Vanderdoes (never ended up enrolling) Randolph's career ended this winter because of a spinal condition. He is a student assistant for the team this year, a role Robinson also has with the receivers. Rochell has been a stalwart up front, starting 25 of Notre Dame's 26 contests the past two years. Vanderdoes never made it to South Bend, transferring to UCLA before his freshman campaign, and even he had to sit last season for the Bruins because of a torn ACL suffered in the opener. Linebackers: James Onwualu, Michael Deeb and Jaylon Smith Onwualu had to overcome winter of 2015 wrist surgery, plus deal with a position switch from wide receiver after his freshman year. Deeb's football career ended last Au- gust because of elbow ligament recon- struction that involved the nerve. Butkus Award winner Smith is now in the NFL — but he would have been unavailable to play this year anyway because of a severe knee injury suf- fered in the Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State. Secondary: Devin Butler, Rashad Kinlaw, Cole Luke and Max Redfield The good news is Luke, who started all 26 games in 2014-15, is developing into one of the nation's top cornerbacks. The bad is: • Kinlaw was kicked off the team in the spring of his freshman season for a violation of team rules and transferred to ASA College in Brooklyn. • Butler, who likely would have been medically redshirted this year because of a fractured foot, was charged in August with two level-six felonies for resisting arrest and bat- tery of a police office. He is on indefi- nite suspension. • Redfield's off-campus arrest Aug. 19, for possession of marijuana and possession of a handgun without a license, prompted instant dismissal of the 23-game starter by Kelly. Every February the most popular question we hear is, "How did Notre Dame recruit this year?" For more than 30 years, we have had the same reply: We won't really know until about four years have passed. It remains ever thus. ✦ Joyous Februarys See Change Over Four Years THE FIFTH QUARTER LOU SOMOGYI Senior Editor Lou Somogyi has been at Blue & Gold Illustrated since July 1985. He can be reached at Wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. is one of only 12 members remaining from Notre Dame's 24-man 2013 class. PHOTO BY ANDREW IVINS

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