Feb 14, 2011, 3:23 PM EDT
With word last week that junior quarterback Nate Montana was considering a transfer to D-IAA Montana, it appears that the quarterback depth chart that was six-deep is now down to a four-man race.
Rising sophomore quarterback Luke Massa, who along with Andrew Hendrix and Tommy Rees joined the Irish in the 2010 signing class, will shift to wide receiver for spring practice. Massa spent last season working as a scout team quarterback along with Hendrix.
Head coach Brian Kelly made it clear that changes were coming at the quarterback depth chart, as only four quarterbacks would get reps during the upcoming spring practices. With Dayne Crist on track to participate after recovering from another knee surgery, Tommy Rees putting together a strong freshman campaign, and early-entrant quarterback Everett Golson giving the Irish their best spread quarterback option, Massa was likely lumped with Montana and Hendrix as the fourth quarterback to get snaps during spring. The coaching staff and Kelly have long been intrigued by Hendrix’s potential and it looks as if they’ll give him every opportunity to win the quarterback job after spending a freshman year learning from the sidelines, something that got tougher to do as the depth chart thinned.
Massa’s a big-bodied kid, listed on the Irish roster at 6-foot-4, 215-pounds and he has the opportunity to grow even larger, as Kelly mentioned on signing day last year when he inked his letter-of-intent. Massa also starred as a high school basketball player at St. Xavier High School and could give the Irish some match-up opportunities as he learns the position and exploits his size. While the depth chart at tight end is full, it’s a place that Massa could also end up, depending on how much weight strength coach Paul Longo can put on the relatively lanky youngster.
The news of Massa’s move, something that likely will be officially acknowledged when the Irish open spring practice, helps clarify one of the storylines to follow during spring camp, where an infusion of four quarterbacks in the last two recruiting classes likely presents challenges for Kelly and his offensive staff as they balance roster needs and the ability for players to see the field. Massa’s move to wide receiver likely quells any rumors of another quarterback transfer, with Montana’s uncertain status on the team the only question mark at the position.