Notre Dame Football: Irish-staying-going-2011

Staying or going? Hafis Williams

December, 2, 2011
12/02/11
5:00
PM ET
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 look at the final player of this series, (alphabetically) last but not least, nose guard Hafis Williams.

Before Notre Dame: From Elizabeth (N.J.) High School, Williams entered Notre Dame as ESPNU's No. 19 defensive tackle.

At Notre Dame: The 6-foot-1, 295-pound Williams has played 24 games for the Irish, recording 19 tackles and two tackles for loss. He saw most of his action toward the end of last season in place of the injured Ian Williams. His 244 snaps last season were the fifth-most among Irish defensive linemen.

What's next?: A sociology major, Hafis Williams has said he is undecided on his future. For now, he remains a reserve nose guard heading into the Irish's bowl game, though Louis Nix and Sean Cwynar see most of the snaps at that spot.

The verdict: Going. There are just too many bodies in front of him in the middle, especially if Cwynar returns. Plus, freshman Stephon Tuitt has shown the ability to play inside as well.

Previous players:

Braxston Cave
Lane Clelland
Dayne Crist
Sean Cwynar
Mike Golic Jr.
John Goodman
Kapron Lewis-Moore
Dan McCarthy
Anthony McDonald
Brandon Newman
David Posluszny
Jamoris Slaughter
Deion Walker

Staying or going? Deion Walker

December, 2, 2011
12/02/11
3:00
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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 look at wide receiver Deion Walker.

Before Notre Dame: From Christchurch (Va.) High School, Walker entered Notre Dame as ESPNU's No. 18 receiver and its 103rd player overall.

At Notre Dame: The 6-foot-3, 206-pound Walker has played in seven games for the Irish the past three seasons, making one catch for 15 yards in 2009.

What's next?: Walker has not ruled out a fifth year at Notre Dame, though the management-consulting major told The Observer he has a job offer from a bank in Kansas. He is scheduled to graduate in May.

The verdict: Going. Walker came in as a highly touted recruit but was never able to crack the two-deep at receiver. Despite uncertainty around the unit next season, it is unlikely he would come back and leap over the younger players already ahead of him on the depth chart.

Previous players:

Braxston Cave
Lane Clelland
Dayne Crist
Sean Cwynar
Mike Golic Jr.
John Goodman
Kapron Lewis-Moore
Dan McCarthy
Anthony McDonald
Brandon Newman
David Posluszny
Jamoris Slaughter

Staying or going? Jamoris Slaughter

December, 2, 2011
12/02/11
1:15
PM ET
This week we are taking a look at each of Notre Dame's fourth-year scholarship players with eligibility remaining and examining whether or not he will likely return to the Irish next season. Here, we look at safety Jamoris Slaughter.

Before Notre Dame: From Tucker (Ga.) High School, Slaughter entered Notre Dame as ESPNU's No. 5 safety and its 85th player overall.

At Notre Dame: The 6-foot, 198-pound Slaughter has played in 35 games the past three seasons for the Irish, starting 15. He spent some time at corner before moving back to safety. Slaughter has 85 career tackles, two tackles for loss, two interceptions and one forced fumble. He was plagued by an ankle injury through much of last season. This season, he has been valuable in nickel coverage for the Irish, replacing drop linebacker Prince Shembo in certain situations and taking on a hybrid-like role.

What's next?: The industrial design major will continue to split time with Zeke Motta at safety opposite captain Harrison Smith in the lead-up to the bowl game.

The verdict: Staying. Three-fourths of the Irish's starting secondary will not return, and Slaughter, whose versatility has been on display this season, will likely be the leader of the unit heading into 2012.

Previous players:

Braxston Cave
Lane Clelland
Dayne Crist
Sean Cwynar
Mike Golic Jr.
John Goodman
Kapron Lewis-Moore
Dan McCarthy
Anthony McDonald
Brandon Newman
David Posluszny

Staying or going? David Posluszny

December, 2, 2011
12/02/11
10:15
AM ET
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 look at linebacker David Posluszny.

Before Notre Dame: From Hopewell High School Aliquippa, Pa., Posluszny entered Notre Dame as ESPNU's No. 30 outside linebacker.

At Notre Dame: The 6-foot, 235-pound Posluszny has played in 25 games the past three seasons, seeing time on special teams and at inside linebacker. He has eight career tackles. He missed some time last season because of a hamstring injury.

What's next?: A management-entrepreneurship major, Posluszny will prepare for the Irish's bowl as a reserve inside linebacker, though he is not on the two-deep.

The verdict: Going. Three of Notre Dame's top four inside linebackers will be back — and perhaps even all four if Manti Te'o chooses one more year in college over the NFL draft — leaving little room for Posluszny next season.

Previous players:

Braxston Cave
Lane Clelland
Dayne Crist
Sean Cwynar
Mike Golic Jr.
John Goodman
Kapron Lewis-Moore
Dan McCarthy
Anthony McDonald
Brandon Newman

Staying or going? Brandon Newman

December, 1, 2011
12/01/11
6:00
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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 look at nose guard Brandon Newman.

Before Notre Dame: From Pleasure Ridge Park High School in Louisville, Ky., Newman entered Notre Dame as ESPNU's No. 17 defensive tackle. He was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.

At Notre Dame: The 6-foot, 303-pound Newman has played in just two games in his career, including this year's contest against Navy.

What's next?: A film, television and theatre major, Newman will prepare for the Irish's bowl game as a reserve noseguard, though he is not on the two-deep. He told The Observer last month that he plans to apply for a fifth year and will look to play somewhere else next season if it doesn't work out at Notre Dame.

The verdict: Going. Louis Nix has been great in the middle. Sean Cwynar, when healthy, has been a solid force as well and may return. Freshman Stephon Tuitt has also seen time there, leaving little to no room for Newman moving forward.

Previous players:

Braxston Cave
Lane Clelland
Dayne Crist
Sean Cwynar
Mike Golic Jr.
John Goodman
Kapron Lewis-Moore
Dan McCarthy
Anthony McDonald

Staying or going? Anthony McDonald

December, 1, 2011
12/01/11
2:45
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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 look at linebacker Anthony McDonald.

Before Notre Dame: From Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif., McDonald entered Notre Dame as ESPNU's No. 27 outside linebacker. He was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.

At Notre Dame: The 6-foot-2, 238-pound McDonald has played in 27 games the past three seasons, recording 24 tackles. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament his freshman year, a concussion his sophomore year, another knee injury his junior year and a torn pectoral muscle this past spring. He saw extended action in last season's Sun Bowl in place of the injured Manti Te'o.

What's next?: A sociology major, McDonald will prepare for the Irish's bowl game as a reserve inside linebacker, though he is not on the two-deep at either spot.

The verdict: Going. If it sounds like we have said this before, it's because we have. But McDonald is another case of a talented high school player who ran into a rash of injuries at the next level, hindering him from making a lot of progress.

Previous players:

Braxston Cave
Lane Clelland
Dayne Crist
Sean Cwynar
Mike Golic Jr.
John Goodman
Kapron Lewis-Moore
Dan McCarthy

Staying or going? Dan McCarthy

December, 1, 2011
12/01/11
10:30
AM ET
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 look at safety Dan McCarthy.

Before Notre Dame: From Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown, Ohio, McCarthy entered Notre Dame as ESPNU's No. 24 safety and was named Gatorade Player of the Year for Ohio. He joined older brother Kyle, who was a 2009 captain for the Irish and currently plays for the Denver Broncos.

At Notre Dame: The 6-foot-2, 205-pound McCarthy has appeared in 23 games the past three seasons, playing at safety and on special teams. He has totaled 15 tackles and one forced fumble for his career, which has been hampered by injuries.

What's next?: For now, McCarthy will back up captain Harrison Smith as the Irish prepare for their bowl game.

The verdict: Going. Much like Clelland, McCarthy never caught much of a break on the field, suffering a neck injury in a high school game his senior year and dealing with a hamstring injury early last season before later undergoing shoulder surgery.

Previous players:

Braxston Cave
Lane Clelland
Dayne Crist
Sean Cwynar
Mike Golic Jr.
John Goodman
Kapron Lewis-Moore

Staying or going? Kapron Lewis-Moore

December, 1, 2011
12/01/11
9:00
AM ET
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 look at defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore.

Before Notre Dame: From Weatherford (Texas) High School, Lewis-Moore entered Notre Dame as ESPNU's No. 19 defensive end.

At Notre Dame: The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Lewis-Moore appeared in 32 games and started 29 before detaching the medial collateral ligament in his right knee Oct. 22 against USC, costing him the rest of this season. For his career, Lewis-Moore has 140 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

What's next?: Lewis-Moore underwent surgery Oct. 27, and Brian Kelly has said he expects the recovery time to be about 4-6 months. His status for the spring is unclear, though the Irish likely won't rush his return, given that they already know what he can do at full-strength.

The verdict: Staying. Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt have had strong freshman seasons, but they certainly could benefit from a veteran presence like Lewis-Moore. The depth of the line was severely tested this season given injuries and illnesses to Lewis-Moore, Tuitt, end Ethan Johnson and nose guard Sean Cwynar. All but Johnson could be back next season, and the defensive line could be the strength of the defense.

Previous players:

Braxston Cave
Lane Clelland
Dayne Crist
Sean Cwynar
Mike Golic Jr.
John Goodman

Staying or going? John Goodman

November, 30, 2011
11/30/11
5:00
PM ET
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 look at wide receiver John Goodman.

Before Notre Dame: From Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne, Ind., Goodman entered Notre Dame as ESPNU's No. 43 overall receiver. He played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.

At Notre Dame: The 6-foot-3, 207-pound Goodman has 28 catches for 315 yards, including seven for 65 this season. He has also been Notre Dame's primary punt returner, averaging a team-high 0.6 yards per return this season (that's not a typo). Last season, Goodman, who played quarterback his senior year of high school, tossed a 32-yard touchdown pass to Michael Floyd against Western Michigan.

What's next?: A management-consulting major, Goodman is scheduled to graduate in May.

The verdict: Staying. Goodman is probably the toughest call to make among those in this group. But with Floyd graduating and Theo Riddick possibly moving back to running back, there are spots for the taking at receiver. The Irish know what they're getting out of Goodman and he could provide some much needed stability for a unit that faces several questions moving forward.

Previous players:

Braxston Cave
Lane Clelland
Dayne Crist
Sean Cwynar
Mike Golic Jr.

Staying or going? Mike Golic Jr.

November, 30, 2011
11/30/11
2:30
PM ET
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 look at center Mike Golic Jr.

Before Notre Dame: From Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford, Conn., Golic entered Notre Dame as ESPNU's No. 4 overall center.

At Notre Dame: Golic saw action in 23 games before taking over starting center duties Nov. 5 after Braxston Cave went down with a season-ending left foot injury. Golic has done a nice job filling in, starting the last three games. In Golic's first two games as a starter, the line paved the way for 186.5 rushing yards per game. (That number dropped to 143.3 rushing yards per game following the Irish's 57-yard struggle Saturday at Stanford.)

What's next?: The film, television and theatre major will start in the Irish's bowl game and, if he comes back, would likely see most of the time at center in the spring as the limited Cave continues to recover from surgery.

The verdict: Staying. Golic is a valuable piece to the line. Even if Cave makes a full recovery in time for the start of next season, Golic could very well start next to him at right guard, which will be up for grabs next season with Trevor Robinson gone. Golic has seen time at guard before.

Previous players:
Braxston Cave
Lane Clelland
Dayne Crist
Sean Cwynar

Staying or going? Sean Cwynar

November, 30, 2011
11/30/11
10:30
AM ET
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 look at nose guard Sean Cwynar.

Before Notre Dame: From Marian Central Catholic High School in Woodstock, Ill., Cwynar entered Notre Dame as ESPNU's No. 16 defensive tackle.

At Notre Dame: Cwynar has played in 35 games the past three seasons and was the Irish's season-opening starter at nose guard this year. He missed one game this season and was limited in four others after breaking his right hand, which forced him to play with a club on it. Splitting time in the middle with sophomore Louis Nix, Cwynar has 21 tackles this season and 57 for his career, including three tackles for loss. He has also forced one fumble.

What's next?: Having already graduated with a degree in management consulting, Cwynar is currently in Notre Dame's accelerated MBA program. This season, he was named to the Capital One Academic All-District V team. Clearly, the future is bright for him beyond football.

The verdict: Staying. Nix, impressive so far, is still only in his first year on the field. Defensive end Ethan Johnson is gone after this year. Cwynar provides plenty of stability in the middle, and Nix has clearly benefited from having him back in there at full strength. Cwynar has been a veteran presence in the middle of a defensive line that has been forced to rely heavily on its youth because of injury, and he should be a valuable piece moving forward.

Previous players:
Braxston Cave
Lane Clelland
Dayne Crist

Staying or going? Dayne Crist

November, 30, 2011
11/30/11
9:00
AM ET
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.

[+] EnlargeCrist
AP Photo/Michael ConroyDayne Crist has a year of eligibility left but doesn't appear to be in contention for Notre Dame's starting quarterback job.
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.

Previous players:

Braxston Cave
Lane Clelland

Staying or going? Braxston Cave

November, 29, 2011
11/29/11
5:30
PM ET
This week we will take a look at each of Notre Dame's fourth-year scholarship players with eligibility remaining and examine whether he will likely return to the Irish next season. We don't play favorites here, so we will be going in alphabetical order. Today, we start with Braxston Cave.

Before Notre Dame: From nearby Penn High School in Mishawaka, Ind., Cave entered Notre Dame as ESPNU's No. 126 overall prospect, and its No. 1 overall center.

At Notre Dame: The 6-foot-3, 303-pound Cave played in 34 straight games and started 22 in a row before suffering a season-ending left foot injury Nov. 5 at Wake Forest. Mike Golic Jr. has started in his place since.

What's next?: Cave underwent surgery Nov. 10 and will probably be held out of contact in the spring. Brian Kelly said he had two centers suffer similar injuries before -- in which a ligament pulls off the bone mid-foot -- and both came back strong. He estimated the recovery time is similar to that of a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

The verdict: Staying. Cave has been an anchor on the line the past two years. He grew up on Notre Dame. And he will provide more stability to a unit that loses its entire right side next season, in guard Trevor Robinson and tackle Taylor Dever.

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