Lynch USF

Lynch applying for hardship waiver at USF

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As you’d expect, Notre Dame transfer Aaron Lynch is hoping to receive immediate eligibility at South Florida. The former freshman All-American provided the biggest news of the offseason when he walked away from the Irish in the middle of spring practice, quitting the team. He finished out the semester before enrolling at South Florida over the summer.

Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times has more from USF head coach Skip Holtz:

“They’re compiling everything and putting it together. Once it’s submitted, it will be ruled on rather quickly,” Holtz told the Times. “Just trying to get all the letters in place and everything else. You have to remember he started here four weeks ago. I would imagine that would be done probably here within the next week.”

Lynch’s departure from Notre Dame, and the ensuing soap opera, has been well chronicled, which might actually be to the detriment of Lynch’s eligibility case.

Defining the hardship waiver is the first piece of the puzzle. John Infante, author of the NCAA’s Bylaw Blog, defines the hardship waiver as something for “student-athletes who are compelled to transfer because of financial hardship or an injury or illness to the student-athlete or a member of their family.”

Obviously, that doesn’t seem to be the case with Lynch. Then again, it didn’t seem to be the case with running back Amir Carlisle, who was granted immediate eligibility after his family uprooted to Indiana after his father took over as the head of Purdue’s strength department.

Eamonn Brennan of ESPN has a breakdown of undergraduate transfer waivers and how often they are granted in college football, and the numbers show that it’s pretty much a 50/50 proposition:

Football

Graduate student transfer waivers:
81 approved
3 denied

Undergraduate transfer waivers:
85 approved
86 denied

The graduate student transfer waiver is allowing Dayne Crist, Mike Ragone, Anthony McDonald, Brandon Newman, Deion Walker, and Hafis Williams to continue their careers, playing out their eligibility after graduating from Notre Dame. Lynch’s case is an entirely different story.

Lynch returning home to South Florida seems to be a data-point that would seemingly support his chances of gaining immediate eligibility. Yet the fact that his mother adamantly disagreed with the decision makes that a tougher angle to pursue.

Pushed for clarification on the rule, the NCAA’s Cameron Schuh didn’t have any clear-cut answer for how the NCAA reaches its decisions.

“There are a number of factors that are considered with the criteria, some of which include the relationship of the individual to the student-athlete and proximity from transferring institution to where the individual lives/is being treated, to name a couple,” Schuh said in an email to ESPN. “Each case is reviewed and determined based on its own merits, so it would not be accurate for me to say if any one factor is weighted more than another nor if cases that look similar on the surface have different outcomes.”

From a football perspective, having Lynch available this fall for duty would be a huge lift to the USF program. It’d also represent a somewhat dangerous precedent, with the morphing of a hardship to include a student-athlete seemingly going against their parent’s wishes to play closer to his girlfriend and friends back home.

Lynch most certainly has the right to play football wherever he wants. Unfortunately for Lynch, the Bulls and Skip Holtz, it might not be until 2013.

Sheldon Day drafted in 4th round by Jaguars

North Carolina v Notre Dame
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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)
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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.

 

 

Jaylon Smith goes to Dallas with 34th pick

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 07:  Jaylon Smith #9 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates by wearing the hat of team mascot, Lucky The Leprechaun, following their 42-30 win against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field on November 7, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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Jaylon Smith’s nightmare is over.

After watching his football life thrown into chaos with a career-altering knee injury, Smith came off the board after just two picks in the second round, selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the 34th pick. His selection ended the most challenging months of Smith’s young life, and come after cashing in a significant tax-free, loss-of-value insurance policy that’ll end up being just shy of a million dollars.

No, it’s not top-five money like Smith could’ve expected if he didn’t get hurt. But Smith isn’t expected to play in 2016.

And while there was a pre-draft fascination that focused on the doom and gloom more than the time-consuming recovery, it’s worth pointing out that Dallas’ medical evaluation comes from the source—literally. After all, it was the Cowboys team doctor, Dr. Dan Cooper, who performed the surgery to repair Smith’s knee.

Smith joins Ezekiel Elliott with the Cowboys, arguably the two best position players in the draft. While he might not be available in 2016, Smith will be under the supervision of the Cowboys’ medical staff, paid a seven-figure salary to get healthy with the hopes that he’ll be back to his All-American self sooner than later, especially as the nerve in his knee returns to full functionality.

Will Fuller brings his game-changing skills to the Texans offense

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 07: Will Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish catches a pass before running into the endzone for a touchdown in the second quarter in front of Avonte Maddox #14 of the Pittsburgh Panthers during the game at Heinz Field on November 7, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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In all the weeks and months leading up to the NFL Draft, one key tidbit linking Will Fuller to the Houston Texans never seemed to come up. The relationship between Brian Kelly and Bill O’Brien.

The two coaches share a high school alma mater, a friendship that made the due diligence on Notre Dame’s prolific playmaker easy. And it was clear that after all their research, Houston was aggressive in their pursuit of Fuller, trading up to make Notre Dame’s All-American the second receiver off the board, triggered a run at the position.

“He was a guy that we felt strongly about,” Texans general manager Rick Smith told the team’s official website. “We didn’t want to take a chance on not getting him. We were aggressive. We went and made the move.”

That move made Fuller’s decision to leave Notre Dame after three seasons a good one. While it’ll require the Irish to rebuild at a position where Fuller served as one of college football’s best home run hitters, it gives Houston a vertical threat that can extend the top of a defense for a Texans offense that was serious about finding some solutions for a team already in the playoff mix.

Yes, Fuller has work to do. Completing the easy catch is one big area. But for all the pre-draft talk about his limitations, Brian Kelly took on some of the criticism head-on when talking with the Texans’ media reporter.

“Some people have compared him to Teddy Ginn, that’s not fair. He can catch the ball vertically like nobody I’ve coached in 25 years,” Kelly said (a sentiment some hack also laid out). Teddy Ginn is a very good player, but this is a different kind of player. If you throw the ball deep, he’s going to catch the football.”

Fuller is never going to be the biggest receiver on the field. But while most of the banter on his game focused on the negative or his deep ball skills, expect Fuller to find a role not just running deep but unleashed in the screen game as well. After the Texans spent huge on quarterback Brock Osweiler and have invested in fellow Philadelphia native and 2015 third-round pick Jaelen Strong, Fuller wasn’t selected for the future but rather expected to be a day-one piece of the puzzle.

“This will change the speed on offense immediately,” Kelly said. “It was not ‘Hey, let’s wait a couple of years’. It was ‘Let’s go get this right now’ and I think Will will do that for them.”