Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Roster Roulette | by Pat

Round and round the wheel spins. We've got a number of personnel matters to follow up on over the past few weeks. Let's jump right in looking at the guys that are on their way in or on their way out.

First, it's bad news for ND that Will Yeatman will be transferring to Maryland to play both football and lacrosse. From a purely football perspective, this move hurts the team, but it probably isn't a killer. Yeatman is the best blocker of the tight ends right now, and taking him out of the lineup will make it harder for ND to run the two- and three-tight end sets that are so instrumental to this offense. However, ND does have a number of younger tight ends with plenty of potential. If Ragone can stay healthy and Fauria can add some strength to his frame in the off-season, they will form a strong complement to the Freshman All-America Rudolph.

What's most disappointing about the Yeatman transfer is the way Notre Dame handled his circumstances and punishment. This topic probably deserves a longer rant from me, but suffice it to say that I don't blame Yeatman one bit for deciding to transfer away from a school that touts in loco parentis and a supportive, family atmosphere, and then turn around and hammers its students with draconian punishments that don't fit the transgressions. While I'm aware that it was Yeatman's second alcohol-related offense, he was suspended for an entire semester for being busted at a party with a BAC of 0.02, which amounts to one or two beers. Once again, ResLife showed an inability to exhibit common sense and instead of Will getting benched for a few games and a strongly worded "three strikes and you're out" warning, ND went with the nuclear option. What's also disappointing is the reaction to this news of Will's transfer from many ND fans, who naively and unfairly assumed that Notre Dame applied fair judgment. From the overzealous bust by the Excise cops, to the mug shots posted all over the web, to ND's cowardly response, the whole thing stinks. Good luck, Will; I don't blame you for leaving.

Yeatman won't be the only player missing from the roster for spring ball. Cornerback Gary Gray missed the Hawaii Bowl and now is not enrolled at Notre Dame for the spring semester. He is, however, expected back on campus next year.

That doesn't mean he is necessarily done with Notre Dame...the expectation is for a return to school and the team in the summer of 2009 for the 5-foot-11, 188-pound Columbia, S.C. product.
After going through a similar separation period, cornerback Darrin Walls is all set to resume his studies at Notre Dame this semester after missing the fall.
“This year I want to get back and be able to compete for a position. There are a lot of good athletes on the team that play my position, so I’m going to have to work hard to get it,” he said. “I want to get back on track and graduate on time also.

“Everyone wants to go to Notre Dame to win a National Championship. After being away, I want to spend as much time as I can with my teammates and work towards reaching that goal.”

“What happened in the past has shaped me. I’m going to use that to focus on my future,” he concluded.
Walls will have two years of eligibility left and will battle Raeshon McNeil and Robert Blanton for a starting corner spot.

Finally, incoming freshman Marlon Pollard switched his commitment (back) to UCLA. Initially committed to the Bruins, Pollard switched to ND back in July. After a recruiting trip to UCLA this weekend, the SoCal native switched back. This leaves the cornerback depth a bit more shallow, especially with incoming freshman E.J. Banks arriving with a torn ACL. Still, there are a number of talented corners with a few years of eligibility left on the roster. ND will just need to add that much more emphasis to cornerback recruiting for the next cycle.

update: Another ND player isn't enrolled at ND for this current spring semester.

Notre Dame safety Jashaad Gaines is not enrolled at Notre Dame this semester, Notre Dame football sports information director Brian Hardin said Tuesday.

Gaines, a Las Vegas native, missed most of the fall semester dealing with a personal issue back in Nevada.

No word yet if Gaines will be back in the summer or fall.