Friday, July 11, 2008

D.J. and Darrin | by Pat

Per the latest University press release...

Wide receiver D.J. Hord has decided to leave the Notre Dame football team
and will transfer to a Division I-AA school.

"I'd like to thank D.J. for all he has given to this team in his three years
and wish him well in his future endeavors," Notre Dame head coach Charlie
Weis said.

Cornerback Darrin Walls will not be enrolled at Notre Dame during the fall
semester for personal reasons and will return home at the end of this summer
school term.

“We won’t have Darrin with us this season but I hope to have him return for
the spring semester. Fortunately, cornerback is a position of strength on
our team and this will provide opportunities for increased playing time for
our corners,” Irish head coach Charlie Weis said.
Sad to see Hord go. His injuries really set him back and made it hard to ever see the field.

But the big news is the loss of Walls. One of the most talented defensive players on the team, Walls was ND's best hope at a shutdown corner. Losing him for the season immediately weakens ND's defense. The silver lining is that Notre Dame actually has talented cornerback depth. While Raeshon McNeil and Gary Gray were fighting over the nickel spot, now they will be fighting over the starting corner spot opposite Terrail Lambert. McNeil in particular had a strong spring and has the size to be very effective against the run and as a blitzer, his sack against Stanford last year a prime example. How he (or Gray) will do matched up against the better receivers the Irish face will determine just how strong the Irish pass defense can be this year. Either way, losing Walls's experience and talent is a definite setback.

That Charlie mentioned the possibility of Walls returning in the spring is a positive sign. Walls played as a freshman, so conceivably he would still have two more years of eligibility to play should he return to Notre Dame for the 2009 season.