Dayne Crist

Crist makes it official: Transfer in motion

33 Comments

It started with a tweet last week (of course it did, this is 2011 after all), quickly deleted after it spread like wildfire through cyberspace:

walkerRcarey Walker Carey
I have a sneaking feeling that I will be a Wisconsin Badgers fan next year.
8 hours ago Favorite Retweet Reply
Retweeted by @SeanCwynar98

After weeks of speculating where Dayne Crist would play football next season, the dot-connecting from a random tweet sent by a Notre Dame student that’s friends with the quarterback, echoed by defensive lineman Sean Cwynar, and viewed hundreds of times by Irish fans all across the country officially kicked into motion with news exclusively broken by the Chicago Tribune, though already known by just about every member of Notre Dame nation.

Dayne Crist is officially leaving Notre Dame after he graduates at mid-semester and head coach Brian Kelly has granted permission for Crist to begin talking to schools looking for a quarterback.

“Dayne and I had a good conversation Friday and I have granted him permission to speak to other schools,” Kelly told the Tribune. “Dayne has been a valuable member of our team the last two years and if he feels he needs to look for a better situation then I think we owe that to him.”

That Crist is leaving is far from a surprise. After being named the team’s starting quarterback after a heated battle with Tommy Rees that lasted all through preseason camp, Crist lasted 30 minutes in the role, pulled after an ineffective and mistake riddled half of football against South Florida put the Irish in a 16-0 hole they couldn’t get out of. From there, the senior quarterback — widely (and appropriately) heralded as a team leader — was relegated to the bench, a very visible reminder that the 2011 Irish, a team with high expectations, had disarray at the one position that determines a team’s ceiling.

Crist did get one shot at redemption this season after being relegated to the bullpen. With Rees dazed after a knee injury against USC, Dayne enter the game in relief during the second half. The senior quarterback looked crisp and comfortable with the offense, driving the Irish down the field and completing a clutch fourth down throw to Tyler Eifert to keep a potential game-tying drive alive. But what happened to the hard-luck Crist would crystallize his career under the Golden Dome. Under center and ready to pull the Irish even, Crist fumbled the snap, failing to fall on the ball as it squirted behind him. The fumble was picked up by a Trojan and run in for a back-breaking touchdown. It was the last meaningful snap Crist took under center for the Irish.

The Tribune report targets Wisconsin, Utah and San Diego State as potential landing spots for Crist, who is eligible to play immediately under NCAA transfer rules. Of course, the Badgers just took advantage of the same rule with Russell Wilson, and the fifth-year quarterback led the Badgers back to the Rose Bowl and had one of the most efficient seasons in college football history.

Wherever Crist will go, he’ll need to find his way onto the field and play in a system that accentuates a skillset that had the Southern California natives one of the most highly-rated players in the country coming out of high school. Whether head coach Bret Bielema is willing to take another one-year player, and one far less of a sure bet than Wilson, one of the ACC’s best players, isn’t certain. It’s likely Crist will go some place where the spotlight isn’t quite as bright, a situation that might benefit both team and player equally.

After four winding season and two major knee injuries, Dayne Crist’s career at Notre Dame is over. While it didn’t end the way he had wanted it, he’ll have one last season to reclaim a career path that seemed certain when he first stepped foot on campus.

Five Irish players sign UFA contracts

Matthias Farley
15 Comments

Notre Dame had seven players selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, trailing only Ohio State, Clemson and UCLA on the weekend tally. But after the draft finished, the Irish had five more players get their shot at playing on Sundays.

Chris Brown signed with the Dallas Cowboys. Romeo Okwara will begin his career with the New York Giants. Matthias Farley and Amir Carlisle signed contracts with the Arizona Cardinal. Elijah Shumate agreed to a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After missing two seasons, Ishaq Williams will be at Giants rookie camp next weekend as well, working as a tryout player. Expect Jarrett Grace to receive similar opportunities.

Count me among those that thought both Brown and Okwara would hear their names called. Brown’s senior season, not to mention his intriguing measureables, had some projecting him as early as the fifth round.

Okwara, still 20 years old and fresh off leading Notre Dame in sacks in back-to-back seasons, intrigued a lot of teams with his ability to play both defensive end and outside linebacker. He’ll get a chance to make the Giants—the team didn’t draft a defensive end after selecting just one last year, and they’re in desperate need of pass rushers.

Both Shumate and Farley feel like contenders to earn a spot on rosters, both because of their versatility and special teams skills. Shumate played nickel back as a freshman and improved greatly at safety during 2015. Farley bounced around everywhere and was Notre Dame’s special teams captain.

Carlisle might fit a similar mold. He played running back, receiver and returned kicks and punts throughout his college career. With a 4.4 during Notre Dame’s Pro Day, he likely showed the Cardinals enough to take a shot, and now he’ll join an offense with Michael Floyd and Troy Niklas.

 

Robertson picks Cal over Notre Dame, UGA

Demetris Robertson
11 Comments

Demetris Robertson‘s decision wasn’t trending in Notre Dame’s direction. But those that expected the Savannah star athlete to pick the in-state Bulldogs were in for a surprise when Robertson chose Cal on Sunday afternoon.

Notre Dame’s pursuit of the five-star athlete, recruited to play outside receiver and hopefully replace Will Fuller, likely ended Sunday afternoon with Robertson making the surprise decision to take his substantial talents to Berkeley. And give credit to Robertson for doing what he said all along—picking a school that’ll give him the chance to earn an exceptional education and likely contribute from Day One.

“I am excited to take my talents to the University of California, Berkeley. The first reason is that the education was a big part of my decision. I wanted to keep that foundation,” Robertson said, per CFT. “When I went there, it felt like home. Me and the coaching staff have a great relationship. That’s where I felt were the best of all things for me.”

Adding one final twist in all of this is that Robertson has no letter-of-intent to sign. Because he’s blown three months through Signing Day, Robertson merely enrolls at a college when the time comes. That means until then, Kirby Smart and the Georgia staff will continue to sell Robertson on staying home and helping the Dawgs rebuild. Smart visited with Robertson Saturday night and had multiple assistant coaches at his track meet this weekend.

Summer school begins in June for Notre Dame. Their freshman receiving class looks complete with early enrollee Kevin Stepherson and soon-to-arrive pass-catchers Javon McKinley and Chase Claypool.

Sheldon Day drafted in 4th round by Jaguars

North Carolina v Notre Dame
Getty
6 Comments

Former Notre Dame captain Sheldon Day didn’t have to wait long on Saturday to hear his name called. The Indianapolis native, All-American, and the Irish’s two-time defensive lineman of the year was pick number 103, the fourth pick of the fourth round on Saturday afternoon.

Day was the seventh Irish player drafted, following first rounders Ronnie Stanley and Will Fuller, second round selections Jaylon Smith and Nick Martin, and third rounders KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise.

Day has a chance to contribute as he joins the 24th-ranked defense in the league. Joining a draft class heavy on defensive players—Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue already picked ahead of him—the front seven will also include last year’s No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler, who missed the entire season with a knee injury.

Scouted by the Jaguars at the Senior Bowl, Day doesn’t necessarily have the size to be a traditional defensive tackle. But under Gus Bradley’s attacking system (Bradley coordinated the Seahawks defense for four seasons), Day will find a niche and a role in a young defense that’s seen a heavy investment the past two years.

Smith, Martin, Russell and Prosise all drafted Friday night

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 13: William Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Nick Martin #72 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrate a touchdown during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
5 Comments

Jaylon Smith, Nick Martin, KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise were all selected on Friday, with four Irish teammates taken on the second night of the NFL Draft. As mentioned, Smith came off the board at pick 34, with the Cowboys gambling on the injured knee of the Butkus Award winner. Nick Martin was selected at pick 50, joining former teammate Will Fuller in Houston.

The third round saw Russell and Prosise come off the board, with Kansas City jumping on the confident cornerback and the Seahawks taking Notre Dame’s breakout running back. It capped off a huge night for the Irish with Sheldon Day, one of the more productive football players in college football, still on the board for teams to pick.

Here’s a smattering of instant reactions from the immediate aftermath.