The hits keep coming for Brian Kelly‘s Notre Dame program.
First, Tyler Eifert and Cierre Wood opted to leave a year early for the NFL and now starting strong safety Jamoris Slaughter has been denied a sixth year by the NCAA.
Slaughter, who missed Notre Dame’s final 10 games this season after rupturing his Achilles in the Michigan State game, will appeal the governing body’s decision, but the chances of it being overturned are slim at best.
Slaughter thought he had a strong case. He redshirted as a freshman in 2008, but Notre Dame petitioned the NCAA ,saying he was out that year due to an injury.
Usually the NCAA is kind to student-athletes who petition for medical redshirts. Not so in this case, however, as the NCAA apparently didn’t buy Notre Dame’s story of him being injured as a rookie–otherwise he would’ve been granted an additional year of eligiblity.
This past season, the Fighting Irish secondary was supposed to be a weakness, especially when Slaughter went down, but was great as it helped Notre Dame rank 25th nationally in pass defense, allowing just under 200 yards per game.
Had Slaughter returned, the Irish would’ve had four players back in the secondary with starting experience.
Now, Kelly and his coaching staff will have to find a starting safety for the spot vacated by the graduation of Zeke Motta. Nicky Baratti is the odds-on-favorite to fill that void.
Even without Motta and Slaughter, Notre Dame’s secondary should be fairly loaded with both starting corners returning–KeiVarae Russell and Bennett Jackson–along with safety Matthias Farley back too.
For Slaughter, though, the NCAA’s ruling is a tough one to swallow when you consider his type of injury usually takes six months to rehab. As a result, he doesn’t think he’ll be healthy enough to perform for NFL scouts at the Combine come February or at Notre Dame’s Pro Day in the spring.
But all is not lost for Slaughter. He already has a degree from Notre Dame.