This week we are taking a look at each of Notre Dame's fourth-year scholarship players with eligibility remaining and examining whether he will likely return to the Irish next season. Here, we take a look at arguably the most talented of these players, quarterback Dayne Crist.
Before Notre Dame: From Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif., Crist entered Notre Dame as ESPNU's 22nd overall prospect and No. 2 quarterback.
At Notre Dame: Where do we begin? Crist appeared in four games in 2009 before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in an Oct. 31 game against Washington State. He bounced back to earn the starting job in 2010, only to rupture the patella tendon in his left knee almost one year later, in an Oct. 30 game against Tulsa, before getting an infection and watching Tommy Rees emerge and go 4-0 as a starter to close the season.
Crist beat Rees out for the job this past offseason but was yanked after the Irish fell behind South Florida 16-0 by halftime of their opener. Crist went 7-for-15 for 95 yards and threw an interception in the end zone in that half, and Rees started every game since. Trailing 17-10 in an Oct. 22 game against USC, Crist relieved an injured Rees on a third-quarter drive and brought Notre Dame to the 1. There, he fumbled the snap and watched the Trojans return it for a touchdown.
For his career, Crist has completed just more than 58 percent of his passes for 2,327 yards, with 16 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He is 4-6 as a starter.
What's next?: Good question. The starting spot for the Irish's bowl game would appear to be between Rees and Andrew Hendrix after the latter relieved the former in the regular-season finale at Stanford. A management-consulting major, Crist is scheduled to graduate in December. Throw in freshman Everett Golson, who redshirted this season, and Crist's future as a starting quarterback in South Bend, Ind., looks bleak.
The verdict: Going. For his sake, many hope he takes advantage of the NCAA's one-time exception for graduate students and transfers to another school, where he can play immediately. Russell Wilson did that this season, starring at Wisconsin after leaving North Carolina State. Crist's options would likely be limited, as only so many schools are welcoming of fifth-year players they can use for one season, but the talent is certainly there. On top of that, his resolve is unquestioned after the way he's handled two potentially devastating injuries and several bad breaks on and off the field. Since he graduates early, he could join Notre Dame for its bowl game before enrolling at another school, in order to be with that squad for spring practices. Crist, who has not been made available to reporters during the season, has by all accounts handled the entire situation with grace. He deserves a chance to showcase his talents at a place that could suit them, and here's hoping he gets that next season.