Friday, January 18, 2008

Kuntz out; possibly Webb | by Pat

More player attrition: starting nose tackle Pat Kuntz is no longer enrolled at the University, per the AP news wire.

The 6-foot-3, 285-pound junior, speaking from his home in Indianapolis, would not elaborate further on why he was not at school. Because of privacy laws, the university could not comment on Kuntz's status other than to say he is not enrolled, said Brian Hardin, director of football media relations.
Kuntz declined to state the reason for a spring stint at Ivy Tech in Indianapolis, but according to sources it's likely academic-related. The good thing is it appears it's not a permanent separation and Kuntz definitely appears motivated to return.
No matter what I'm going to be back there. I'm going to have one more year to play and I'm going to graduate from Notre Dame," said Kuntz, who is majoring in sociology. "The time is the only thing that's not 100 percent."

Kuntz hopes to know in the next month whether he will be back in school in time to play next fall.

In an interview with the South Bend Tribune, Kuntz reiterated his desire to get back to campus as soon as possible.
"Coach Weis and I are on the same page about everything," Kuntz said. "We've been in contact. We'll stay in contact, and we still have the same ultimate goal, and that's me being a big part of the defense in 2008.

"I still feel like I'm part of my team. If I can get up in the spring to some spring practices, I am going to do that. I've got great friends there. I'm not planning on distancing myself from the team whatsoever. I'm gone, but I'm not done -- not the least little bit."
Obviously this means that he will miss spring practice, but he was going to have to sit out the spring anyway as he rehabs from the torn knee ligaments he suffered in the Air Force game. His back injury against Navy also turned out to be a chipped bone in his spine, which also will take some time to heal.

In the meantime, there is now a huge opportunity for, well, pretty much any player who wants to make an impact on the defensive line this spring. With Justin Brown and Ian Williams likely holding down two of the three starting spots, there is a wide open race for the final starting spot. The main contenders -- Kallen Wade, Paddy Mullen, Derrell Hand, Emeka Nwankwo, and early enrollee Sean Cwynar -- are all very inexperienced with only a combined 37 minutes of playing time between them last season. A silver lining of this whole situation is that they will all get more reps in practice and a better chance to showcase their development.

If Kuntz is able to make it back for the Fall, then the overall impact of his semester away shouldn't be all that great. However, if for whatever reason he is not able to return, then the Irish defensive line will be in desperate need of a player to step up the way that Kuntz himself rose to the challenge last season. Because Kuntz did play as a freshman, he will have one season of eligibility left even if he is forced to miss the 2008 season.

In other news, the rumors are getting stronger that the Irish have lost an offensive lineman to injury. There still has been no official confirmation from the school or player himself, but reports have popped up on Irish Band of Brothers, Irish Illustrated, and Irish Insights that backup tackle Bartley Webb is likely going to hang up his cleats due to a shoulder injury that will at minimum keep him out this spring. In all likelihood, this topic as well as other personnel matters and injury news will be addressed as part of the National Signing Day press conference.