Matt Hegarty

Hegarty cleared for action after serious health scare


After missing much of last year with a mysterious illness that shut him down for the season, the future of Matt Hegarty‘s time at Notre Dame looked to be in question. The one-time blue chip recruit, who had turned down offers from USC, Texas, Oklahoma and Oregon to sign with the Irish, looked to be a future cog on the offensive line.

That future looked incredibly bleak back in November, when, Hegarty suffered stroke like symptoms and surgery revealed two holes in his heart that existed since birth. The experience was especially harrowing, according to Hegarty’s father, who spoke to the Chicago Tribune back in January.

During the team’s walk-through on Nov. 8, Hegarty “suddenly was unable to speak or write,” his father said.

“Matt said that the doctors theorized that ‘his Thursday weightlifting routine may have caused enough turbulence in his heart this time, to cause a clot to pass through the holes in his heart, unfiltered,'” Bryan Hegarty said. “‘The clot then traveled to his brain later that day at practice, causing the stroke.'”

It appears that after a scary 2012, Hegarty’s future with the team is back on track, according to a report from Blue and Gold’s Dan Murphy.

Per Murphy, Hegarty will rejoin the team and is cleared for “full football activities” starting March 15, with doctors monitoring his heart’s progress throughout.

That’s excellent news for an Irish offensive line that’s had its fair share of bad luck since Brian Kelly took over the team. With Tate Nichols likely hearing not-so-great medical news that could put him on a medical hardship scholarship, Jordan Prestwood transferred to UCF, and Brad Carrico already suffering a career-ending injury, the offensive line recruiting class of 2011 looked like it could have been down to just Conor Hanratty, making this year’s recruiting class up front so important.

If Hegarty is healthy, he looks to be one of the truly intriguing players to watch this spring. While many expected him to come in and compete at tackle, his move to the inside gives the Irish some size and an impressive athlete at the center position, where the Irish have started Braxston Cave for three straight seasons.

Irish add commitment from CB Donte Vaughn

Donte Vaughn

Notre Dame’s recruiting class grew on Monday. And in adding 6-foot-3 Memphis cornerback Donte Vaughn, it grew considerably.

The Irish added another jumbo-sized skill player in Vaughn, beating out a slew of SEC offers for the intriguing cover man. Vaughn picked Notre Dame over offers from Auburn, LSU, Miami, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M among others.

He made the announcement on Monday, his 18th birthday:

It remains to be seen if Vaughn can run like a true cornerback. But his length certainly gives him a skill-set that doesn’t currently exist on the Notre Dame roster.

Interestingly enough, Vaughn’s commitment comes a cycle after Brian VanGorder made news by going after out-of-profile coverman Shaun Crawford, immediately offering the 5-foot-9 cornerback after taking over for Bob Diaco, who passed because of Crawford’s size. An ACL injury cut short Crawford’s freshman season before it got started, but not before Crawford already proved he’ll be a valuable piece of the Irish secondary for years to come.

Vaughn is another freaky athlete in a class that already features British Columbia’s Chase Claypool. With a safety depth chart that’s likely turning over quite a bit in the next two seasons, Vaughn can clearly shift over if that’s needed, though Notre Dame adding length like Vaughn clearly points to some of the shifting trends after Richard Sherman went from an average wide receiver to one of the best cornerbacks in football, and Vaughn will be asked to play on the outside.

Vaughn is the 15th member of Notre Dame’s 2016 signing class. He is the fifth defensive back, joining safeties D.J. Morgan, Jalen Elliott and Spencer Perry along with cornerback Julian Love. The Irish project to take one more.

With Notre Dame expecting another huge recruiting weekend with USC coming to town, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Irish staff close out this recruiting class.




Days before facing Notre Dame, USC coach Steve Sarkisian to take leave of absence


When Notre Dame takes on rival USC on Saturday, they’ll be facing a Trojans team without a head coach. USC athletic director Pat Haden announced today that effective immediately, head coach Steve Sarkisian will be taking an indefinite leave of absence. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will be interim head coach.

While the details are still coming into focus, multiple reports point to another incident with alcohol. Haden himself said that he made the decision after speaking with Sarkisian.

“I called Steve and talked to him. It was very clear to me that he is not healthy. I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence,” Haden said, according to multiple Los Angeles media reports.

Sarkisian’s decision-making and alcohol use came into the spotlight this August when the head coach made inappropriate statements at a large booster event. Sarkisian addressed the media after the incident, acknowledged mixing medication with alcohol, and vowed to seek help and not to make the same mistake again.

Today’s incident appears to be a relapse, and one that requires immediate attention. Helton ran the team’s practice today and steps back into an interim head coaching role, a job he handled after the Trojans fired Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron left after not being awarded the permanent job.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, I have been in this situation before,” Helton said. “Once again, I’m very fortunate to have a group of first-class kids that are extremely talented and want to do something special here.”

This is the second major sports persona to leave his season to seek treatment in recent weeks. New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia left the team to seek treatment for alcohol issues. The Trojans are coming off an upset loss to Washington on Thursday night, losing 17-12 as a 17-point favorite.