Feb 27, 2013, 11:48 AM EDT
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.