Wednesday, June 04, 2008

In-N-Out | by Pat

While we focus on the departure and replacement of Kevin White, there is another cycle of departures and arrivals (or, more accurately, returns) that warrant discussion. First, last week it came out that sophomore linebacker Aaron Nagel is transferring out of Notre Dame.

"You don't know how hard this was," said Aaron's father, Ron, after the freshman linebacker met with Irish head coach Charlie Weis Wednesday afternoon and ultimately decided to transfer.

"Our family has always been Notre Dame fans and always will be Notre Dame fans. We've got nothing but good things to say about coach Weis. It came down to the fact that Aaron wanted a chance to get on the field. It didn't happen in the spring and it didn't look like it was ever going to happen."
Nagel, the first member of his class to transfer from Notre Dame, does not have a new destination yet. However, Northwestern is a heavy favorite given his Chicago area roots and the fact that his younger brother will be a freshman tight end for the Wildcats this fall.

Nagel started and ended the spring with the 3rd string behind Mo Crum and Steve Quinn and with the strong freshman class coming in, playing time would have been hard to come by. Also a fantastic student, it's a shame to see Nagel go, but the desire to see more playing time is understandable. The best of luck to him.

Here's a simplified look at ND's linebacking situation going forward. For the sake of simplicity, I'm sticking with outside linebackers (OLB) and inside linebackers (ILB) rather than break down all four positions. The staff was doing a bit of mixing and matching during spring practice and it's possible we haven't seen the end of it. A few assumptions on this list include former inside linebacker Steve Paskorz sticking at the fullback position, sophomore Harrison Smith actually staying at safety, and incoming frosh Steven Filer starting out inside even though Weis said he could ultimately play either outside or inside. Presumptive starters are in bold.
Brian Smith 6-3 239 So.
Kerry Neal 6-2 240 So.
Scott Smith 6-4 235 Sr.
Kallen Wade 6-5 244 Jr.
Darius Fleming 6-2 230 Fr.
Maurice Crum, Jr. 6-0 235 Sr..
Toryan Smith 6-1 244 Jr.
Steve Quinn 6-2 225 Sr
Kevin Washington 6-1 244 Sr.
Steven Filer 6-4 220 Fr.
Anthony McDonald 6-3 220 Fr.
David Posluszny 6-2 214 Fr.

While Nagel's leaving was being announced, Will Yeatman's return to the team was made official. It will be interesting to see the Irish work Yeatman back into the team given the strong spring by Mike Ragone. Yeatman is likely still the starter, but for the first under Charlie the TE situation is more of a #1A and #1B than clear cut #1 and clear cut #2. Yeatman is the bigger and better blocker at this point -- no lacrosse means he presumably didn't lose the 15 pounds he did last year --while Ragone is the faster player. Given ND's OL question marks, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Yeatman and Ragone on the field at the same time a fair amount early in the season.

Another return that hasn't been made official but is expected is the return of Pat Kuntz. He's listed in the student directory once again and online chatter is all pointing to him being a full member of the team when they start summer school on June 19th. His return is a much needed boost to the thin and young defensive line. Teams are going to line up and try to run on ND until the Irish prove they can stop it. Getting Kuntz back gives ND one more experienced player to try and slow down the opposition's run game.