Have faith Irish fans. Touchdown Jesus is still with you.
Notre Dame appears to be in some trouble for the season with the reports that four Irish football players have been suspended after reportedly being connected to an academic fraud issue,
The players are receiver DaVaris Daniels, defensive back KeiVarae Russell, defensive lineman Ishaq Williams, and linebacker Kendall Moore. Other people are being looked into also that aren’t involved with athletics, according to sources.
All four of these players are not just starters, but they could have each been the best players at their positions, so yes, this appears to be devastating. Daniels and Russell have been crucial players for the Irish dating back to the 2012 national championship run.
But three of the four guys are seniors, and Russell is a junior. Now Brian Kelly can plug in younger guys as he continues to build toward the future of the program. That’s what matters.
Newsflash: The Fighting Irish are not good enough to make the four-team playoff this year. They are good, but there are too many issues that will keep them out. Wake up and accept that really.
Now, to the suspensions.
Starting with Daniels, all his suspension does is allow for Chris Brown and Corey Robinson to see more action. Robinson is a sophomore and has the most raw talent of the bunch anyway. With Daniels gone, those two get to see much more action and gain more experience. Both will be back next year.
Ishaq Williams was expected to be a major player on the defensive line this year, but he has yet to live up to his 5-star hype since he set foot on campus. Now Kelly can turn to sophomore Isaac Rochell, who was going to be the likely starter at the beginning of next year anyway. He gets to gain lots more experience with Williams out, and with Williams leaving after this year, his suspension will be irrelevant.
Kendall Moore was expected to be a role player at linebacker starting solely on experience this year. Who cares about him being gone? He’s not back next year either, and Kelly has three redshirt freshmen he can turn to to fill the inside linebacker position. Better to give them experience now anyway than wait until next year, when you actually could be making a national title run.
Russell is the only major loss if he’s gone for good because he is the only cornerback who would contribute this year and was expected to be back next year. But he could still be back next year, or even later this year, depending on how this investigation unfolds. Remember that Quarterback Everett Golson faced academic issues and is back. And although the other two starters at cornerback will be seniors, Kelly has recruited very well here as well. Sophomores Cole Luke and Devin Butler now get to see some more action at the position, even in backup roles.
All analytic previews of Notre Dame now have to change dramatically for this year due to the losses. But thanks to Kelly’s recruiting and with the reality that the Irish weren’t going to compete for anything this year anyway, this is a great long-term blessing.
If the Irish make a national championship run next year with significant help from the guys that Kelly will have to play this year in place of the suspended players, fans will hopefully see that Touchdown Jesus was looking out for them the whole time, and they’ll be back to shouting Hail Mary!