There has been speculation as to which eligible seniors would return to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for a fifth and final season. That speculation can now be put to rest.
According to an article by Eric Hansen on southbendtribune.com, six players are planning to enroll in graduate classes at Notre Dame and return for a fifth year.
Chris Salvi would make seven if the other six players return. Salvi is a reserve safety and special-teams player who has recently earned a scholarship in his last season with the team, but isn't subject to the fifth-year approval process according to the article by Hansen. The team has already announced his return.
So, which six players are planning to come back?
Braxston Cave, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Jamoris Slaughter, John Goodman, Mike Golic Jr. and Dan McCarthy will all be applying for another year says Hansen.
While five of those players are really no surprise, McCarthy has rarely seen the field as a safety, and an infusion of young talent at the position doesn't make his return nearly as essential as the others.
Sean Cwynar, who was a major contributor as a defensive tackle when healthy, has decided to try his hand in the job market after achieving an MBA, but he wasn't the only eligible player who won't be coming back.
Anthony McDonald, Deion Walker, Brandon Newman, Lane Clelland, Hafis Williams, Anthony McDonald and David Posluszny will not be playing for the Irish in 2012 either.
McDonald once looked to have secured a starting role as an inside linebacker for Notre Dame, but multiple injuries damaged his career.
Posluszny never seemed to challenge for a starting job during his time with the Irish. He played sparingly at inside linebacker, but most of his work was done on special teams.
Walker didn't gain any traction as a wideout during his time at Notre Dame. He was considered a player to watch out of high school, but his talent just didn't make the transition to the college level. He only caught one pass while playing for the Irish.
Newman and Williams remained as reserve defensive tackles, but neither got much playing time over their careers (Williams way more than Newman). It seems the Irish want to go with a younger rotation at nose tackle considering Newman expressed interest in returning (he will likely attend another school in 2012).
Clelland was a backup offensive tackle (and backup defensive end for a short stint). He tore an anterior cruciate ligament over the summer, so Clelland didn't even get a chance to see the field during his last season with the team.
It is time to say a simple farewell and thank you for the hard work the departing players put in. Even if they rarely saw the field, playing football at Notre Dame is a tremendous commitment and takes extreme devotion to one's craft.
So, to the players who are leaving as well as those that are applying for a fifth season—good luck.